And while Government is happy to support the caneros’ fight for bagasse, it comes with a price. They want to see the crop started and that means a little bargaining power in the form of fixing cane roads. Prime Minister Dean Barrow reiterated today that without evidence of a successful negotiation, the Government cannot look at the roads when there are priorities elsewhere.
Reporter: “So, how is it that the Opposition by the government saying that it’s your responsibility to fix the road notwithstanding what’s happening?”
Hon. Dean Barrow: “It’s my responsibility to fix all the roads in the country. It’s just a matter of prioritization. There are people in Toledo that cannot get out of their villages; there’s only a certain amount of money that can be disbursed immediately; there is certain amount of work that can be done immediately. So, this would be a priority, but if there is not going to be a crop, then understand why I will assign the priority to elsewhere”.
Reporter: “What’s the compromise?”
Hon. Dean Barrow: “Heh, no, there is no compromise yet! There’s simply a matter of our now needing to talk to ASR to see if there can be a compromise after such a meeting?”
Mr. Alfredo Ortega: “No sir; it’s not only the cane farmers that live in the north; it’s not only we that use the roads. We have other farmers in other areas; we have the papaya industry, the vegetable farmers, the Mennonites and the students that need the roads. So, I think it is very important, regardless of what happens to us cane farmers and BSI that the roads should be fixed”.
According to Ortega farmers have not yet experienced direct losses as a result of crop delays but they have already lost 3 million in damages to the fields. To prevent that figure from going higher, they are as eager as anyone to negotiate.
Mr. Alfredo Ortega: “That is our hoe who because now they will be feeling the weight of the government of Belize with their Prime Minister. So, I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government of Belize has a convincing argument with them”.
Reporter: “How early you are looking at meeting being arranged?”
Mr. Alfredo Ortega: “The Prime Minister said that he will be arranging to meet with ASR on this week. So, from thereafter it will be set when ASR will be meeting with us”.
Reporter: “So, there will be a meeting just between you two, and the PM won’t be involved at all?”
Mr. Alfredo Ortega: “No. Whenever negotiations start with BSI, it will be the BSCFA and the ASR that will be meeting”.