In an effort to be fair and show both sides of the situation in Central America with the sugarcane field workers, here is a letter from Carla Palazio, Office of the Presidency, Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua .
Dear Members of the USBG:
As you are likely aware, Flor de Caña is fielding inquires and follow-ups from bartenders who are concerned about working conditions at Ingenio San Antonio Sugar Mill (ISA). This comes on the heels of recent press about sugarcane workers with a kidney disease of unknown origin (i.e., Mesoamerican Nephropathy or CKDu).
We share their passion. For many years now, we have been dedicating significant resources to this complex epidemic that is yet to be fully understood by the medical and occupational health communities. However, since we consider the articles incomplete, we would like to shed additional light on our efforts.
While the press articles rightfully share concern and sympathy for workers with this unsolved kidney disease, they fail to reflect our own commitment and how deeply we care for, value, and invest in our workers. The articles have not discussed our openness to collaborating with many parties who have a vested interest in understanding, diagnosing and proposing solutions to this situation, nor referenced our research collaborations with academic medical partners such as Boston University and Baylor University. In fact, our current operational procedures reflect changes we've made based on the recommendations from these partners.
We believe our continued work to advance knowledge and prevention programming is critical because our people are our greatest assets. This desire to protect their health and safety is in keeping with our 125-year legacy of building industry infrastructure that supports the development and welfare of our workforce. To that end, we hope to continue with what we have always done, which is put the education, transparency and health of our workers and communities at the forefront, even if it puts us in the crosshairs of debate.
We look forward to continuing this dialogue with the USBG membership as ISA continues to work with the aim of eradicating CKDu. We will continue to communicate to you as things progress.
Office of the Presidency
Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua