Below is a commentary by Dr Leslie Ramsammy on the sugar industry:
Here are facts: Wales Sugar Estate is closed and hundreds of sugar workers are unemployed. Skeldon, Sugar Estate has had its first crop operations suspended, no planting has occurred and no harvesting has taken place. Skeldon is essentially closed. Enmore Sugar Packaging Plant has suspended its operation. LBI cane cultivation has ended and no planting has taken place at Enmore. Enmore/LBI has closed. The ethanol plant at Albion has not been used since 2015. The Providence cane fields have been abandoned.
GUYSUCO, no matter how much it denies the truth, is totally carrying out instructions from APNU+AFC to first significantly downsize and then close sugar. No amount of spin and PR to change the narrative will hide the truth. It is high time APNU+AFC/GUYSUCO stop lying to the sugar workers and to the people of Guyana. President Granger this past week unwittingly conceded the truth when he announced in Regions 5 that Wales has been closed and Enmore/LBI, Rose Hall and Skeldon will cease operation this year. The BIG MAN has spoken- closure of the sugar industry is near.
Sugar has already contracted (downsized). Surely the Senior Communications Officer from GUYSUCO who wrote a response to one of my statements cannot accuse President Granger of misrepresentation. GUYSUCO might prefer to use the spin word – re-engineering – but whatever cute or misleading words they use, the fact does not change. Sugar has been downsized, is being further contracted, thousands of sugar workers have lost their jobs and thousands of families have been impoverished. A spade is a spade. Fancy words will not improve the lives of those families who are suffering because GUYSUCO is downsizing as part of APNU+AFC’s mission of ending sugar in Guyana.
In America, President Trump’s people have invented a new spin for false statements and outright lies, ALTERNATIVE FACTS. Cute, but lies are still lies. Let us stop the lie, stop insulting and demeaning the workers and the Guyanese people, Wales Sugar Estate is closed. There has been no cultivation of sugar cane on GUYSUCO’s sugar cane fields at Wales since the second crop of 2015. There is no harvesting going on right now. The sugar factory at Wales has been largely dismantled. Sugar workers have been laid off, some of whom have been paid severance and some of whom have been told they have no choice but to accept employment at Uitvlugt Sugar Estate. These workers are now fighting for their severance too.
Ms. Thomas, GUYSUCO and APNU+AFC can scream REENGINEERING until they turn blue, but it does not change anything in the above paragraph. Sugar workers and the people in West Demerara have no illusion – Wales Sugar Estate is closed. It has been almost eighteen months since the Wales decision was made by APNU+AFC and since GUYSUCO has been implementing the decision. Yet there is still no concrete plans for Wales and the people there. APNU+AFC has sporadically announced things like sharing land to small farmers, rearing tilapia, dairy farming and cultivating rice seed paddy. The Minister of Agriculture lied that there were 450 ha of rice ready to be harvested in December. More recently we were told that 200ha were cultivated, but I stood in those fields two weeks ago and the only evidence is that about 200 acres are now being prepared for rice. Sugar is DEAD in Wales, not being re-engineered.
While GUYSUCO is trying to invent a new narrative of re-engineering to displace the reality of downsizing of sugar, President Granger valiantly tried his own spin and ALTERNATIVE FACTS last week to change the ugly narrative. He told the people of Region 5 that they should not be worried and depressed over the closure of four estates because the real story is that three states are being kept open – Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt. None of this confounded nonsense changes the reality that Wales is closed and Enmore/LBI, Rose Hall (Canje) and Skeldon are already in advanced stages of being closed.
In regards to President Granger’s remarks that three estates will be kept open, I challenge the President, APNU+AFC and GUYSUCO to definitively promise that Uitvlugt will not be closed.
As regards cultivation at Providence, West Bank, Berbice, a part of the Rose Hall sugar cane cultivation, GUYSUCO ( I am assuming Ms. Thomas is parroting the position of GUYSUCO) wants us to believe that Providence is still operational. Have any senior person from GUYSUCO and for that matter anyone from APNU+AFC been to Providence recently? I know of no one who has seen any GUYSUCO senior officer at Providence for the longest time, not just in recent months. No planting has taken place at Providence since end of 2015 and all fields with productive cane have been harvested. Those cane fields are no longer productively occupied by GUYSUCO. I know. I walked those fields on April 2, 2017.
Truth can be denied, at least for some time, and lies might become ALTERNATIVE FACTS. We can spin closure and taking away people’s jobs and call it REENGINEERING. But at the end of the day the reality is that sugar cane fields are being abandoned for grass, weeds and bushes to take over, factories are being closed and dismantled, workers are unemployed, small community markets die, small shops, businesses, seamstresses and others in the sugar belts are feeling the squeeze. These ugly truths do not become less vulgar even if we redefine downsizing and closure as re-engineering.