Posted: Wednesday, March 8, 2023. 12:25 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Even as members of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) marched through central Belmopan, members of rival associations held a sort of “counter-protest” in front of the Sir Edney Cain Building, lending their support to the executives of Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) as they told their side of the story to Cabinet.
Former deputy government and party leader in the People’s United Party (PUP), Florencio Marin Sr., who was appointed despite some controversy to be an advisor to the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) last year, was present as a member of the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association (CSPCA), his tenure having ended last month. He told reporters that the much larger BSCFA, from which the smaller associations all split, has proven “more demanding” in terms of completing negotiations but that “it can’t go on forever. I am hoping that one of these days they will wake up and find out that the long-term interest of their membership is served, if they would only convince BSI/ASR that the way to go is [to] compromise or as you put it, give and take. But I am hopeful that before the end of this year, they will sign a commercial agreement.”
Marin said it was “fair and square” that, having given an audience to BSCFA, BSI/ASR should be invited to give their perspective. As for his own work, he maintained that he tried his best but that the Board was under no obligation to listen to him; nonetheless, he credited efforts at increasing yields per acre of cane planted which, literally, is a seed planted that will reap future benefits.
Marin and members of the CSCPA came out near Independence Hill to lend support to the government, the factory, and the process of negotiation.
Vladimir Pook, CSCPA Chairman, reiterated that to his knowledge the commercial agreements signed by each association are not materially different. While it would be “interesting” to see the records, he maintained that he relied on the experience of his leadership and membership. Pook added that while he “respects” the BSCFA, their issues are not those of the CSCPA and the Northern and Progressive associations as they have valid commercial agreements they are currently satisfied with.
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