To sign or not to sign; cañeros to decide.

To sign or not to sign? That is the question regarding the commercial agreement between BSCFA and ASR/BSI. It was hopeful that the decision would have been made on Tuesday, but it has been pushed back until Sunday.

On Tuesday, there was a meeting of the 18 branch leaders and other directors of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association at its headquarters in Orange Walk . It was decided that the matter will now rest on a special general meeting of cañeros to be held on Sunday January 4th, 2015.

It was a lengthy meeting, and in the end, BSCFA Chairman Ezequiel Cansino  told the media that while everyone wants to start a crop, the Association must adhere to its by-laws, and had to bend to the request for the special general meeting on Sunday that 5 branch leaders reignited on Tuesday, based on recent developments.

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vlcsnap-2014-12-31-05h18m16s240Ezequiel Cansino – Chairman of BSCFA Committee of Management

“On the request of the five directors for this special general meeting, they’re pointing that we give the membership the entire agreement  that will be signed, and for them to give us their blessing on that.” 

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Ezequiel Cansino says he and his branch are all for the signing of the agreement now, however, the voices of those calling for a return to the general membership of the cañeros is apparently growing louder.

Former BSCFA chair Alfredo Ortega says he is not satisfied with the manner in which the negotiations have unfolded, and is calling for the cañeros to be the ones to make the ultimate decision.

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vlcsnap-2014-12-31-05h22m21s201Alfredo Ortega – Member of the BSCFA Negotiating Team

“Yes, there was an increase of Branch Chairmen. They didn’t say they were supporting us , but what they said during the meeting is that they have received many calls of their farmers of the different branches they represent, on which a request has been done to them to call a general meeting, so that farmers can understand clearly, or better understand, what the contents are within the  agreement.

So based on that, the support went on bigger, and also using the act, the act says that three district branches can call the attention of the Committee of Management to call a general meeting.  Based on that legally, that is where we’re stood up.

Only about two of them opposed to go to the general meeting.”

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It is a technical 19-page agreement and it was presented on Tuesday to the cañeros, for the first time in English. This will give the Caneros time to review the document for the meeting on Sunday.

As we told you on Monday, there was an application for an injunction by  Corozal cañero Lucilo Teck to get the crop started.

Ezequiel Cansino and Alfredo Ortega speak on the matter.

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Ezequiel Cansino

“We are expecting that this application for this injunctionbe retracted, because we will be having the special general meeting, because it is specifically clear that if we go to this special general meeting they will remove this application.”

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Alfredo  Ortega
“We’ll see what will transpire during the course of today and Sunday. What we were looking forward is to them not to sign before presenting to the farmers. So, once they present to the farmers, I think that would be dropped.”

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Chairman Cansino says he hopes that the cañeros will accept the proposed draft agreement on Sunday, so that  it can be signed on Monday. Mr Ortega, on the other hand,  is hopeful that they will return to a previous decision when they asked for an interim agreement that would allow the continuation of negotiations while the crop is ongoing.  If the cañeros at the meeting decide not to accept the proposed agreement, there are already reports that other branches would individually sign the agreement with BSI to start delivering cane. Ezequiel Cansino speaks on this possibility.

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Ezequiel Cansino

” The eighteen directors are aware and we are concerned about this, and we know that it is not the best thing to do, to go individually to sign with BSI, but I don’t know what will happen exactly after this general meeting.  One or two directors have commented on that, that if something goes wrong, they might take that option to go by branch and sign this agreement.”

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In case you are wondering, on Monday Ezequiel Cansino and Alfredo Ortega confirmed that the SICB has the legal mandate to set a crop start date:

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Ezequiel Cansino

“We in turn said that, yes it’s true that they have a right to put a date.”
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