Leader´s political participation will not affect Norandino
San Jose, August 18th (CSF)- "It's not the first time, nor will it be the last that members of the cooperative Norandino get involved in Peruvian politics," affirmed the commercial manager Santiago Paz when asked about his pre-candidacy for the local Government of Piura for the region for all people movement.
Santiago Paz has been with Norandino for more than 11 years in commercial management and in the promotion and defense of the fair trade system; however, his political participation as candidate for governor has called the attention of producers, buyers and the fair trade movement in general.
The farmers have decided
"We have done clean and honest work in Norandino and we have shown that you can have a positive impact in many ways," said Santiago during an interview on his candidacy for which he has the support of more than 5,000 sugar, coffee and cocoa producers of Norandino.
Concerning the possibility of the cooperative being affected by the ups and downs of politics, he said that the associate partners are not worried that involvement in politics will undermine the organization. "We've had growers who have become mayors and aldermen and we've known how to separate business from politics," he pointed out. Instead, he said that Norandino associate partners look forward to a scenario with more resources to expand and strengthen exports and sustainable development for the region.
Santiago secured the permission from the Norandino farmer for his candidacy. "The farmers have made their decisions in different instances as well as in the general assembly, and although there is some disagreement among producers, it is not a problem," said Paz, discarding conflict due to political differences in the cooperative.
The Norandino impact on the region
Santiago Paz highlighted that in more than 10 years of operation Norandino has known how to have a positive impact in the social, economic and political levels, transforming the farmers into economic stakeholders and consequently into political stakeholders.
"Norandino works with small scale producers that were cast aside and not taken into account politically. Their only participation was for a vote and that was the extent of the relationship with the political candidates. Today however, Norandino's raw cane sugar is profitable. The farmers have become interesting for the candidates and their elections whom now seek them out, making the negotiation context very different," he explained.
He added that the clean, honest work of Norandino has demonstrated to society that there are other forms of economic development with a positive impact. This is precisely what Paz wants to bring to the political scene: the OTHER way of doing things well that reflects itself in the improvement of the quality of life of the people.
Development reflected in quality of life
"The challenge that the candidates of the Regional Government of Piura face is demonstrating economic development through the quality of life of the people," said Paz after emphasizing that the difficulties in Peru are not economic, but corruption in political systems.
“We have a situation in which farmers are trying to survive as laborers in plantations while capitalists purchase large tracts of land. Development is a very broad topic, and despite the increase of investments in Piura we have failed to have a better quality of life,” said the political hopeful. “There has been progress but it is not reflected in the quality of life of the people and this is the challenge that we have here.”
We will continue promoting Fairtrade
He said that for the moment distancing himself from commercial management has not caused concern among buyers and financiers of Norandino. "They have already seen the previous processes and have seen that in terms of business, it changes absolutely nothing. They have also seen that Norandino is very well organized, modern and has a well-qualified technical team," stated Santiago Paz.
Regarding less public participation on the international stage defending fair trade and the small-scale Latin American farmer, he said that he will fight just as hard so that fair trade continues with its role for which it was created: helping farmers who are disadvantaged and need fair trade in order to enter the market and enjoy its benefits.
"I think that we all recognize the economic, social and political achievements of fair trade, which can be seen in many countries and organizations, and one of these organizations is the cooperative Norandino. This will not change. We will enhance it with more resources so that its fair trade continues to grow, strengthening and benefiting millions of small-scale producers who need it to improve their living conditions."
translated by Jesse Trace