And the troubles continue for the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, this time due to the questionable usage of the Fair Trade funds.

As we told you, the farmers took a resolution at the special general meeting last week Sunday that they want their association's executives to share out 4 million dollars of Fair Trade funds, which was already allocated for outreach programs to improve their lives.

That's causing problems in two areas. Firstly, if and when the money is shared out, the association will be broke, and 16 field workers working on projects will be laid off.

Since Sunday, the Association's executives have been warning their membership that if they share out the money in the fashion that the farmers want, it will more than likely get them into trouble with Fair Trade because this money is not supposed to given out in this manner. It is supposed to be invested in programs designed to improve the lives and the farms of the caneros. Meanwhile, Fairtrade has gotten word of the misuse of the premiums, and they've written to the association to express their disappointment.

Kerian Durnien, the Support Program Coordinator of Fairtrade International in Central America, wrote a very lengthy 2 page email to the BSCFA on Tuesday in Spanish.

The email notes that the resolutions from December 14th General Meeting and Sunday's General Meeting to share out 2.5 million dollars and an additional 4 million is a gross violation.

Durnien says quote, "The decisions to distribute the funds to the membership, is in clear violation of the agreements reached, and the plan of use of prize approved on November 30 at the Annual Meeting of the Association..

This represents a greater dissatisfaction in compliance with Fairtrade standards. These decisions will lead to a suspension least in the regular audit next and possibly be a repetition of the mishandling of the award could result in decertification of the association." End quote.

But, if the cane farmers association weathers the possible splintering, it may still not make it to the next FLO Cert Audit which could lead to that suspension or decertification. That's because when the association shares out the 4 million dollars as demanded by the farmers, the organization will be broke. The Chairman of the Committee of Management, Ezequiel Cansino, today detailed layoffs to the press this evening:

Ezequiel Cansino - Chairman, COM of BSCFA
"We are in a - let's say, bankrupt situation after this because just as I said we might have enough money to keep the program for the child labor. We can't keep them because there will not be any money to pay their salaries. What we are contemplating is only about 2 field officers that might stay for the program of child labor."

And while the fair trade fleecing is hurting the BSCFA on one hand, and the splintering is crippling it on the other - today the Prime Minister named those he feels are the culprits:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Leave the BSCFA broke and unable to pay its bills and maintain its office. That is what Ortega, Matura, Cervantes, Keme, Lucilo Teck and the PUP have rath."

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