Deadline Tension: Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Await Signed Deal as Time Runs Out

Deadline Tension: Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Await Signed Deal as Time Runs Out

Many of the cane farmers who showed up today have been out there since nine this morning.  Between then and new time today, the deadline given to BSI/ASR by the farmers moved from 12 midday to two-thirty and then to four-thirty.  In speaking with the Vice Chairman of the BSCFA, Alfredo Ortega, just before four o’clock this evening, he told Love News that there is no telling what could happen once four thirty comes, and there is no signed deal.

Alfredo Ortega, Vice Chairman, BSCFA: “Well I want to send this message to our farmers to be patient and to give that ultimate time of 4:30 on which it was asked according to the ministers that have gathered themselves in Yo Creek. So I called the farmers to really have a little bit more patience and if nothing happens between now and 4:30 then we will do what we need to do.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM: The deadlines keep moving and you know I’ve gathered from some of the members that they’re very very frustrated. Do you believe that some of them may begin going to Yo Creek ? 

Alfredo Ortega, Vice Chairman, BSCFA: “Yes I do believe believe because as you rightly said many of them are frustrated because it’s not only today that this is happening that we are moving the goal post or moving from time to time. And really I understand the farmers, even myself I feel frustrated but as a leader I cannot come out like crazy and do things that will really end up affecting our farmers. We want our farmers to maintain their healthy position that they have. We don’t want nobody to really do any damage or harm one of our farmers or that they get hurt. We want our farmers to maintain in their healthy body that they have and yes we continue our demonstration, we continue our dissatisfaction on where we are at this point.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM: I know that you and Dr.Richard Rosado spoke moments ago what kind of assurances has the association given the police in terms of not going into industrial action before 4:30 ? 

Alfredo Ortega, Vice Chairman, BSCFA: “Well as I mentioned to him we are very peaceful. We are doing a peaceful block jus to send a message out to our leaders and I told him that I’ll try to talk to the crowd but as you know it’s only my word to them. Some of them as you have seen have moved and opened the road so that we can sho to the officer that we are here to work with them and he has told me that will support us once 4:30 comes and nothing has happened then he will give us his full support. So we’re waiting on that and as I said before we don’t want any hurt to one of our members.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM: Are you able to say what will happen at 4:30 ?

Alfredo Ortega, Vice Chairman, BSCFA: “I’m unable to say what will happen at this point.”

Interestingly, the management at Orange Walk Chapel School issued a note to parents, saying that they have been instructed to dismiss all classes at two o’clock today.  This comes after there was a call yesterday for parents to not send their children to school today, in support of the call.  Meanwhile, BSI/ASR has issued a release saying, quote, “Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI) legal counsel continues to engage with the attorney for the BSCFA aimed at arriving on a mutually acceptable agreement. There are several false statements being perpetuated by BSCFA representatives which is jeopardizing reaching an agreement and BSI categorically denies that it has introduced new points. However, in the interest of trying to reach a solution, BSI will reserve its comments to ensure discussions are done in good faith.”  End of quote.  In related news, the national Trade Union Congress of Belize is hosting a press conference tonight on the sugar matter.

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