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Prime Minister says if ASR/BSI pushes government to pay for damages over cane farmers strike, government will have to respond

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Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2022. 12:30 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: The Government of Belize (GOB) has pledged that if Belize Sugar Industries (ASR/BSI) is awarded legal damages from the courts against cane farmers over blockading the sugar mill last year, that it will assume liability; however, Prime Minister John Briceño says he doubts it will come to that.

Briceño, speaking on the issue yesterday, said that the government decided to make the pledge in the national interest, as cane farmers would not have ended the blockade and allowed the factory to reopen without some assurances.

He stressed, however, that he believes cooler heads will prevail at ASR/BSI and they will not call on the government to make any such payments. If it comes to that, Briceño says the government will have to respond.

“BSI is an important partner in this country. I don’t think that it is in their interest to pick a fight with the government, there are a number of things they will be asking of us. So if they are going to be fighting with us then obviously we will have to take a second look at whatever it is they are asking,” Briceño said.

When asked about BSI’s intent to secure protections so that farmers cannot resort to blockading factories, Briceño said that such protections are unrealistic.

“That will never happen. It will not happen in Belize. They have factories all over the world, they have them in Mexico and when they have problems the cane farmers blockade the factory,” Briceño said.

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