Someone died today. Whatever the circumstances of his death, he didn't have to die. Today, though it would be easy to find the comedic elements in the tragedy, to find them I'd have to go past the fury that's blocking my vision. Why fury? Because someone died today, and his death was unnecessary.
For the benefit of strangers to my country and those who have logged on from their mid-jungle gopher holes, let me explain briefly that sugar cane and politics have always been a combustible mix in Belize. You see, our politicians have neither strength of will nor courage of conviction, and it takes a great deal of both to take on the cane farmers.
In some respects, today's clash has been coming for decades. In another way, it has been coming for about three years. Either way, what you have is an ailing industry producing substandard product and being propped up and indulged by successive governments. Sounds sensible, doesn't it? No, I didn't think so either.
Now, the core sampler in question is a tool for measuring quality. Higher quality logically means more sugar per ton of cane delivered. In a world where commodity prices aren’t the best, and quotas are disappearing, it should go without saying that Belize’s survival interest lies in producing the best possible product, to get the best possible prices.
Instead the cane farmers are willing to fight to the death for the right to kill their industry. And at the cost of one life today, they won one more battle for their self-destruction. Tonight the core sampler is unplugged, and “same-old, same-old” triumphs yet again.
Mr. Politician, as a taxpayer, I feel I have the right to tell you this: if these guys want to destroy the industry, don’t help them do it by indulging them for the sake of votes. Because when the sugar industry dies –is murdered– you’re going to expect me to pay for the farmers to avoid starvation. And I won’t have it!
In other words, don’t expect me to donate the fuel for the cane farmers’ kamikaze flights.