Letters — 16 January 2015
Open letter to SICB and GoB

Dear Editor,

I must write on the fact that it is clear that at no time the Sugar Industry Board (SICB) has intended to act in good faith and do what the law requires it to do, that is, fix the grinding season. Sadly, when we talk about SICB, they have become synonymous with the government, although the Act says they are to be an autonomous body.

This is because of the pronouncements made by the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow, that ASR/BSI will not open its gates until there are agreements signed. Now, effective Thursday, January 15, 2015, there are agreements signed with Producers and United Cane Farmers Association of Corozal and still, neither has SICB declared the grinding season open nor has ASR/BSI even opened its gates.

This is rather interesting because after the strong talk by the Prime Minister that breakaway groups will sign agreements with ASR/BSI, in the very offensive terms of the draft agreement of December 29, 2014, so that there will be a grinding season, there has been none.

I say there can be none because, despite the PM’s very declaration concerning the Sugar Act, the Sugar Act is still very much a valid Act and the BSCFA is still a very constitutional entity, without whom the grinding season cannot start.

I say publicly to the BSCFA and its cowardly directors who have betrayed their membership and cowered them into signing the petition being circulated that this is proof that ASR/BSI and the industry need you more than they want to admit.

BSCFA is the key and has the power to negotiate, but only if its directors and especially its Committee of Management and specifically its Chairman, Ezequiel Cansino, are prepared to put aside personal gain and political philosophy and finally stand for the interest of the farmers. I realize the problem is not the farmers, but rather the lack of testicular fortitude of the leadership.

Without leadership, there is no direction, and without direction there is no unity, and without unity a people will be defeated. It is no coincidence that they two architects of the division within the BSCFA pushing for farmers to concede their ownership of their sugar cane are Arturo Hernandez, the nephew of the King Pin of the North, Gaspar Vega, and his cousin, Ezequiel Cansino.

The one thing the farmers should NEVER concede is ownership and that the grinding season can start without them conceding ownership, but the mere fact that ASR/BSI is so focused on the issue of ownership speaks volumes about the worth of that proprietary right over the sugar cane.

At the January 19, 2015 sitting of the House of Representatives, the nation should come out in droves and demonstrate their support for the cane farmers and denouncing the heavy-handed tactics against them by ASR/BSI, teamed up with the SICB and Government.

It’s time to wake up Belizeans! Power to the people! God bless Belize!

Yours truly,

Audrey Matura-Shepherd
Daughter of the soil!

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