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Court grants cane farmers permission to seek mandamus order

By Alexis R. Milan

Cane farmer, Lucilo Teck and executives from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) were granted permission by the Supreme Court for leave to file an application for a writ of mandamus against the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB).

Justice Shona Griffith made the decision after a hearing on Friday in which, attorneys from all sides made presentations.

Teck was represented by attorneys Audrey-Matura Shepherd and Anthony Sylvester. Attorney Michael Young represented BSI/ASR, SICB was represented by Rodwell Williams. Eamon Courtenay represented the BSCFA and the government was represented by Deputy Solicitor General, Nigel Hawke.

Griffith set the next hearing date for February 23rd but this has caused concern for the farmers who are desperate for the season to begin.

The mandamus is an instrument which, would order the SICB to perform their duty which in this case is to open the cane season.

Ezequiel Cansino, BSCFA Chairman said he was fearful that the Association wlll eventually break apart due to tensions within the BSCFA where some farmers are eager for the season to start and are considering signing individual agreements with BSI/ASR.

Alfredo Ortego, BSCFA Director for Orange Walk said the BSCFA may have already sealed their fate after 14 of the 18 directors voted to disburse $4 million of Fair Trade funds, which when shared among the over 5,000 farmers will amount to about $700 per farmer. Ortego said he voted against the move but the cheques are being prepared and they are trying to get the farmers to reconsider their decision.

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