Stop Sugar Purchases from the Dominican Republic, Sugar Barons are making billions from child labor and slavery conditions!

Watch "The Price of Sugar" an amazing documentary about the Dominican sugar industry!!

 

MADRID, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- A groundbreaking report by the US Department of Labor lists countries and products worldwide where the worst forms of labor abuses have been documented. Sugarcane production in the Dominican Republic was specifically mentioned for child labor and forced labor practices, among other abuses, corroborating the repeated denunciations made by Fr. Christopher Hartley of human rights and labor violations on Dominican sugar plantations. 

http://www.dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/PDF/2009TVPRA.pdf

Fr. Hartley has written to company executives at major European sugar refiners, Tate & Lyle, St. Louis Sucre and Tereos, urging them to examine their stance on human rights in light of recent purchases of Dominican sugar under the new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) nations. Fr. Hartley also contacted the European Commission regarding the ramifications of an agreement allowing procurement of a product grown and harvested by human beings who lack basic rights. "This is the first time ever that sugar harvested in the Dominican Republic is available in the EU marketplace," says Fr. Hartley. "And for the first time ever, that same Dominican sugar - knowingly produced in violation of international human rights principles, Fairtrade standards, and the mandate and spirit of the EPA - will be stirred into the morning coffee of millions of European consumers." Fr. Hartley raises hard-hitting questions as to oversight of Dominican producers and EU purchasers, noting that Fairtrade certified companies are now able to introduce "un-Fairtrade" sugar into their product line without sanction. Questions also loom for the EC regarding scrutiny of EPA purchasers as to adherence to self-advertised claims of social responsibility, the human rights practices of their new suppliers, and individual corporate accountability, as well as the accountability of the EU/EC, especially in determining "eligibility" of EPA suppliers, and conformity to the intent and spirit of the EPA itself. "... Haitian children plant and cut sugarcane. Many Haitian adults and children live in sugarcane worker villages referred to as 'bateyes,' which lack adequate housing conditions, access to medical services, and other basic needs, and are rife with exploitive child labor. Dominican-born children from parents of Haitian descent are regularly denied citizenship or legal identity documents which preclude access to education beyond the fourth grade, formal sectors jobs, and other basic rights." - US DOL: "Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor," p. 64,

http://www.dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/PDF/2008OCFTreport.pdf

Citing it as a human rights imperative, as well as good business, Fr. Hartley urged the companies and their boards to make future purchases of Dominican sugar contingent upon rectification of human rights abuses and slave-like labor conditions on the principal plantations in the Dominican Republic: the state-owned CEA, and those privately owned and operated by the Fanjul, Campollo and Vicini families. To date, none of the three companies has agreed to accept Fr. Hartley's challenge that they "take the lead" and boycott Dominican sugar for as long as human rights and labor violations remain in effect. In a 9/15/09 response on behalf of the EC, a Commission official acknowledged the seriousness of the situation but added that the EPA "does not deal specifically with migration issues or the verification of fair trade labelling." To download a copy of Fr. Hartley's report "New Forms of Human Rights Abuses on Vicini Company Sugar Cane Plantations, Current Harvest (2008-2009) Dominican Republic," August 31, 2009, go to

http://www.ereleases.com/pr/2009-Hartley.pdf

. Press Contact: Fr. Christopher Hartley Fundacion Mision de la Misericordia Phone: 1 (917) 887-6908 Email: Press.MisionMisericordia@gmail.com

 

 CNN.com

   TIME CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics with Congressional Quarterly

Sweet deal why are these men smiling ? The reason is in your sugar bowl

By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele

TIME magazine

Occupying a breathtaking spot on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, Casa de Campo is one of the Caribbean's most storied resorts. It bills itself as "a hedonist's and sportsman's dream," and that's truth in advertising. The place has 14 swimming pools, a world-class shooting ground, PGA-quality golf courses and $1,000-a-night villas.

A thousand miles to the northwest, in the Florida Everglades, the vista is much different. Chemical runoff from the corporate cultivation of sugar cane imperils vegetation and wildlife. Polluted water spills out of the glades into Florida Bay, forming a slimy, greenish brown stain where fishing once thrived.

Both sites are the by-product of corporate welfare.

In this case the beneficiaries are the Fanjul family of Palm Beach, Fla. The name means nothing to most Americans, but the Fanjuls might be considered the First Family of Corporate Welfare. They own Flo-Sun Inc., one of the nation's largest producers of raw sugar. As such, they benefit from federal policies that compel American consumers to pay artificially high prices for sugar.

Since the Fanjuls control about one-third of Florida's sugar-cane production, that means they collect at least $60 million a year in subsidies, according to an analysis of General Accounting Office calculations. It's the sweetest of deals, and it's made the family, the proprietors of Casa de Campo, one of America's richest.

The subsidy has had one other consequence: it has helped create an environmental catastrophe in the Everglades. Depending on whom you talk to, it will cost anywhere from $3 billion to $8 billion to repair the Everglades by building new dikes, rerouting canals and digging new lakes.

Growers are committed to pay up to $240 million over 20 years for the cleanup. Which means the industry that created much of the problem will have to pay only a fraction of the cost to correct it. Government will pay the rest. As for the Fanjuls, a spokesman says they are committed to pay about $4.5 million a year.

How did this disaster happen? With your tax dollars. How will it be fixed? With your tax dollars.

It is not news that sugar is richly subsidized, or that the Fanjuls have profited so handsomely. Even as recently as 1995, when Congress passed legislation to phase out price supports for a cornucopia of agricultural products, raw sugar was spared. Through a combination of loan guarantees and tariffs on imported sugar, domestic farmers like the Fanjuls are shielded from real-world prices. So in the U.S., raw sugar sells for about $22 a pound, more than double the price most of the world pays. The cost to Americans: at least $1.4 billion in the form of higher prices for candy, soda and other sweet things of life. A GAO study, moreover, has estimated that nearly half the subsidy goes to large sugar producers like the Fanjuls.

A spokesman for Flo-Sun, Jorge Dominicis, said the company disagrees with the GAO's estimate on the profits the Fanjuls and other growers derive from the program.

"That is supposed to imply somehow that our companies receive $60 million in guaranteed profits," he said, "and that is flat-out not true. Our companies don't make anywhere near that kind of profit."

Dominicis, like other proponents of the sugar program, contends that it doesn't cost taxpayers a penny and is not unlike government protection of other American industries. "If our [sugar policy] is corporate welfare, which I don't believe it is, then all trade policy is corporate welfare," he says.

Flo-Sun is run by four Fanjul brothers, Alfonso ("Alfie"), Jose ("Pepe"), Andres and Alexander. Their family dominated Cuba's sugar industry for decades, and they came to this country with their parents in 1959, after Fidel Castro seized power. The Fanjuls arrived just as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to control the flow of water in the Florida Everglades made large-scale development possible. The total acreage planted in sugar cane there soared--from 50,000 acres in 1960 to more than 420,000 today.

Within that swampy paradise lies yet another subsidy. Each year, according to a 1997 estimate, the Army Corps of Engineers spends $63 million to control water flow in central and south Florida. This enables growers to obtain water when they need it or restrain the flow during heavy rains. Of the $63 million, the Corps estimates $52 million is spent on agriculture, mainly sugar-cane farmers, in the Everglades.

Even with the additional production from the Glades, propped up by price supports, the U.S. can't produce all the sugar it needs. The Federal Government rations access to the lucrative U.S. market by assigning quotas to 40 sugar-producing nations, most of them developing countries. And, remarkably, the Fanjuls have found riches here too. Every year, the country that receives the largest sugar quota is the Dominican Republic. With a per-capita income of $1,600 a year and an unemployment rate hovering around 20%, that Caribbean nation needs all the economic help it can get. And who is the largest private exporter of Dominican sugar? The Fanjuls, thanks in part to their long-standing relationship with the Dominican Republic's politicians. Through a subsidiary, Central Romana Ltd., the brothers grow sugar cane and operate the world's largest sugar mill there. The profit margin is substantial, partly because cane cutters on the island earn about $100 a month, making production costs much lower than in Florida. From their Dominican plantation the Fanjuls export roughly 100,000 tons of raw, duty-free sugar each year to the U.S.

Whether they sell sugar from their holdings in the Everglades or from their mill in the Caribbean, the Fanjuls are guaranteed a U.S. price that is more than double anywhere else in the world. As might be expected, having it both ways has propelled the Fanjuls into the ranks of the richest Americans. Their wealth is counted in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

And although they appear frequently in the society pages, the Fanjuls won't be caught dead in the financial section. As Emilia Fanjul, the wife of Pepe, once confided to a society reporter, "We like to be private about the business."

Depending on the season, the Fanjuls can be found shooting game in Scotland, skiing in Switzerland or relaxing at their spectacular Casa de Campo. These 7,000 acres overlooking the sea have long been a favorite playground of the wealthy. But Palm Beach is still their real home, and Florida is still the heart of their financial empire. They now farm an estimated 180,000 acres of cane-producing land in the Everglades--43% of the total--making them one of the two-largest sugar growers in the state.

For decades, this region has been home to one of the worst jobs in America--hacking cane with a machete. Until the work was mechanized in the 1990s, the growers had to bring in thousands of cane cutters from the Caribbean every season. Yet in preserving the subsidy that has made millionaires of the Fanjuls, Congress has cited the fact that it saves American jobs.

Migrant-labor organizations and legal-aid groups in Florida have long waged an ongoing battle with the Fanjuls and other growers over the abysmal conditions. Greg Schell, an attorney with the Migrant Farmworkers Justice Project in Belle Glade, Fla., contends that of all the growers, the Fanjuls have treated their workers the worst. "They are in a class by themselves," he said. A lawsuit seeking back wages and benefits is expected to go to trial next spring.

Every few years, critics of the sugar program attempt to roll back the subsidy that has enriched the Fanjuls and kept sugar prices high. And every time they fail, largely because of the power of the sugar lobby, which includes not just large growers like the Fanjuls but thousands of small sugar-beet farmers in other parts of the nation.

Though by no means the largest special interest in Washington, the sugar lobby is one of the most well-heeled. And among growers, the Fanjuls are big givers. Family members and corporate executives have contributed nearly $1 million so far in this decade, dividing the money fairly evenly between political parties.

This knack for covering all political bases carries all the way to the top of the Fanjul empire. Alfonso Fanjul served as co-chairman of Bill Clinton's Florida campaign in 1992. His brother Pepe was national vice chairman of finance for Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996 and was host to a $1,000-a-head fund raiser for Dole at his Palm Beach mansion. After Clinton's 1992 victory, Alfie was a member of the select group invited by the Clinton camp to attend the President-elect's "economic summit" in Little Rock, Ark.

Careful readers of Kenneth Starr's impeachment report to Congress will note that on Feb. 19, 1996, Alfie called President Clinton while the President was closeted with Monica Lewinsky in an emotional meeting in the Oval Office. After breaking the news that "their intimate relationship" would have to end--temporarily, as it turned out--the President returned Fanjul's call; Lewinsky left. The two spoke for 22 minutes. The topic: a proposed tax on sugar farmers to pay for the Everglades cleanup. Fanjul reportedly told the President he and other growers opposed such a step, since it would cost them millions. Such a tax has never been passed.

 

Follow this link!!! "Big Sugar" Sweet, White And Deadly!

 

Slaves in Paradise


Céline Anaya Gautier

With the support of Pour que l’esprit vive, Amnesty International, Mairie de Paris, VSD, Picto, Collectif 2004 Images. It is estimated that around 500 000 women, men and children are prisoners on sugar cane plantations in the Dominican Republic. Attracted by seasonal work which they believed to be well paid, they find themselves enslaved to the few “grand” families of the local sugar cane industry. Stripped of their papers, they are unable to escape. Some have been there for generations. With the help of Fathers Christopher Hartley and Pedro Ruquoy, Céline Anaya Gautier was able to enter the bateys to bring us these rare, powerful photos. These photographs were part of an event, Slaves in Paradise, their purpose is to denounce the living conditions in the bateys, for both the cutters and their families. This event brought together a photographic exhibition and a symposium held by international specialists on slavery and the sugar cane industry. In the Dominican Republic the case of Uncle Tom has never faded. Not far from the luxury tourist beaches, hidden behind an impenetrable curtain of sugar cane, unsanitary wooden barracks are assembled to form “bateys”. These ghettos, without water or electricity, are home to the “braceros”, seasonal slaves of sugar cane plantations and their families, from Haiti. Once past the entry gates of the bateys, there is no escape from this hell: the men work to exhaustion in the plantations, the women try to ensure the survival of their families, the children born to Haitian parents, unrecognised by both countries and condemned to become slaves in turn… Every year, more than 20 000 Haitians cross the border of the Dominican Republic to work during the zafra season, harvesting sugar cane. These crossings occur outside of any legal framework and are the result of an organised process, known to the authorities, perpetrated under the watchful eyes of immigration officials and the Dominican police. In exchange for this work force, the Dominican Sugar Cane Companies pay the sum of 30 euros per worker to the Haitian government. Recruited by the « buscones » (beaters), the braceros find their papers replaced by a worker’s notebook delivered by the State Council of sugar. In the absence of a legal framework, the only law prevailing in the sugar cane fields is that dictated by the “capataces”, the superintendents of the sugar companies. Although all suffer inhumane working conditions and poor treatment, the braceros rarely try to run away. Terrorised by their wardens, deprived of their papers and of any means of communication, they are quickly reduced to silence and resignation. Those who do try to escape are quickly recaptured by the guards and beaten with machete knives. Many mysteriously disappear following such attempts. The others have forgotten what it was like to be free.

 

 

Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102396

Campollo Plantation, Barahona. On the plantations, the cutters discover the laws of the zafra. Their guards, the capataz, are accused of causing the disappearance of uncooperative workers' bodies in the cane bonfires...

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102453

Vicini Plantation, Puerta del Tubo, Sabana Tosa. Every year more than 20 000 Haitiens cross the Dominican border to harvest sugar cane, convinced by the "beaters" that they'll be well paid. They arrive in the plantations after a week-long voyage, without knowing what awaits them.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102691

CEA (Consorcio Azucarero Estatal), La Mula batey. On the plantations, the cutters discover the laws of the zafra. Their guards, the capataz, are accused of causing the disappearance of uncooperative workers' bodies in the cane bonfires... For others, cut-off hands serve as reminders of previous attempts to escape the plantation.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102671

Vicini Plantation, Amelia batey. Some families have been living in the bateys for several generations. Without papers, they survive on odd jobs and external aid.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102653

A Haitian, Lide, shows what remains of his seasonal card. The words "picador de cana", cane cutter, are visible. Before the start of the second season, a capataz destroyed his card, making him a clandestine prisonner of the bateys. Whether they entered legally or otherwise into the Dominican Republic, the cutters thus become illegal aliens. Campollo Plantation, Barahona, batey 9 - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102651

Children unrecognised by the Dominican and Haitian governments don't have access to citizens' rights or to hospital care. Most bateys don't have medical centres, so the workers go untreated if wounded or sick. Campollo Plantation, Barahona, batey 9 - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102170

Forced break for the cutters. Several days of rain has threatened their survival. Since they are unable to work in the fields, they cannot buy their daily bread. And if they put down their machete for too long the owner will look for new workers. CEA, La Mula batey – 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102349

The seasonal workers are grouped together in the isolated barracks of the bateys, without water or electricity. Ten people crammed into 10 square metres, they have to share beds. This proximity creates a lot of tension. Campollo Plantation, Barahona, batey 7 – 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102659

A cane cutter with his Zinedine Zidane t-shirt, a humanitarian donation. Campollo Plantation, Batey 9 - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102668

Campollo Plantation, Barahona, Batey 7 - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102692

When an old man's labour is too weak, the capataz fire him and replace him with someone younger. The old people then depend on charitable solidarity from the bateys and the aid brought by people such as Fathers Christopher Hartley and Pedro Ruquoy. CEA, La Mula batey – 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102429

In exchange for a few pesos the children of the bateys pick up jute-cloth sacks and sell them in the carbon market. Campollo Plantation, Barahona, batey 5 - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102650

Due to a 120 euro debt in Haiti, Saintilien left his family to work in the plantations of the Dominican Republic. A week after his arrival, he fell ill. Campollo Plantation, Barahona, batey 5 - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102654

Father Pedro Ruquoy learns that Saintilien is seropositive and close to death. Without telling him the truth, he welcomes him into the presbytery where the 25 other occupants care for him. Campollo Plantation, Barahona, Batey 5 - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102485

During the celebration of prayer for the sick, Saintilien is encircled by the Father and the residents of Batey 5. Campollo Plantation, Barahona, Batey 5 -2005.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102672

Campollo Plantation, Barahona, batey 5. Far from his family native country, Saintilien leaves for the "hatless land".

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102176

4 am wake-up call. In some bateys, the men must walk for several hours to get to the fields. In other bateys, the men are dropped off by bus to the various areas. San Jose de los Llanos, Vicini Plantation – 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102186

In some bateys, noone brings food to the men during the day. They only take with them a flask of stagnant water and are obliged to subsist on sugar cane. Vicini Plantation, San Jose de los Llanos - 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102191

Vicini Plantation, San Jose de los Llanos - 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102338

At 5 am the men start work in the fields of the Vicini family. From sunrise to sunset they work without respite. Vicini Plantation, San Jose de los Llanos - 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102173

Fifteen hours per day, the braceros suffer the hot sun combined with the heat of the burning sugar cane. Campollo Plantation, Barahona - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102652

The burned cane, easier to cut, is less well paid. Sometimes, the exhausted braceros get caught by the flames... Campollo Plantation, Barahona – 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102246

Even the more robust workers are only able to cut a tonne and a half of cane per day. The pay rate is 40 - 80 pesos per tonne, less than $1, paid in the form of survival tickets. Campollo Plantation, Barahona – 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102231

Vicini Plantation, Victorina Bateys - 2006.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102172

Vicini Plantation, Cayacoa batey. During the combustion of the sugar cane, the particles present in the air burn the eyes and infect skin lesions.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102424

The Haitians are often victims of racism on the part of the Dominicans. Only the children, Dominican and Haitian, are able to mix without distinctions being drawn. CEA, Victorina batey – 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102648

Vicini Plantation, San Jose de los Llanos.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102243

Three men cut up each section. As soon as they've finished, they're sent to another section. It's impossible to check how much cane they've cut in a day. They are paid, however, according to this uncalculated amount. Campollo Plantation, Barahona - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102657

Each bracero's amount is inscribed on a stick, theoretically allowing the number of sugar sections cut during the day to be counted. But the machines often take away these markers during the harvest. Campollo Plantation, Barahona – 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102259

Once the cane has been cut it is loaded onto wagons and sent to be weighed. The cutters, paid on a prorata basis on the weight of the cut cane, are not usually present for this phase. It is thus impossible for them to monitor what the owner owes to them. CEA, La Mula batey - 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102206

CEA, Victorina batey. A survival ticket which passes for a pay slip. Given to the cutters on a fortnightly basis, it allows them access to the colmados, the local shops run by the owner's salesmen. They can exchange their ticket for food. However, since they can't pay in pesos a 10 - 15 % commission is taken.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102649

Fathers Christopher Hartley and Pedro Ruquoy fought against child labour. However, many of them still work, for lower salaries than their parents. Bullied by the capataz, they dare not admit that they're under 18. Without identity papers, their age can't be established. CEA, Victorina batey – 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102356

Children play in a river polluted by the pesticides used in the sugar cane fields. Adults wash there too. Plantation Famille Campollo, Barahona, Batey 9 - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102219

Campollo Plantation, Barahona. "Comida", one ticket per meal, distributed as the capataz see fit. An unjust practice, but one which constitutes a privilege since other plantations normally don't even provide this daily meal.

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102171

Campollo Plantation, Barahona - 2005

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102655

Vicini Plantation, San Jose de los Llanos – 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102690

The mechanisation of the harvest has its inconveniences: lack of selectivity of the cane, wagons which tip over when loading... CEA, La Mula batey - 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102515

Some old people who still have the strength to continue working are responsible for minor tasks in the fields, such as watching the cattle. The rest become beggars. CEA, La Mula batey - 2004

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Céline Anaya Gautier / Picturetank GAC0102687

Fresh arrivals, young Haitian sugar cane workers, are inexperienced and are unable to harvest the tonne and a half of cane necessary for their survival. They must content themselves with restricted food rations until they can improve their efficiency. La Mula batey - 2004

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Mission Newtork News is on December 13, 2010 begging the world for help!

Dominican Republic (MNN) ― Batey communities in the Dominican Republic are company towns or neighborhoods where sugar cane workers and their families live.

Sugar production is physically demanding and low-paying work. An estimated 250,000 residents live in approximately 500 bateys throughout the Dominican Republic.

Most residents do not have access to drinking water, proper sanitation facilities, medical care, or schools.  A majority of the adults are illiterate. Many have dreams for their children that will never be fulfilled without an education, but 22% of the kids in the Dominican Republic don't go to school because their parents' wages won't cover the fees.

Worldwide Christian Schools, in partnership with the Christian Reformed World Missions and COCREF (Christian Reformed Schools of the Dominican Republic), began responding with small schools in the shantytowns.   

In 1988, Jerico Christian School began classes in the tiny Christian Reformed Church in Batey Fao. 15 years later, Worldwide Christian Schools built a four-classroom building not far from the church. In 2004, bathrooms were added and a security wall was finished. Currently, Jerico serves students from preschool through 5th grade and is growing.

Steve Geurink with WWCS says, "There is just a large number of students who are not able to attend either public or Christian schools. Our program is focusing on these individual students and trying to get all the children from a family to be able to go to school at the same time."

"Hope Rising" is a joint program of Worldwide Christian Schools - US, Christian Reformed World Missions, and COCREF that connects one sponsor with one student in the Dominican Republic. 

But there's a twist to the program. Geurink explains, "If we pick one child in a family to sponsor, we make a commitment to make sure that all the other children are sponsored as well." 

In other words, "Our goal is to make sure that a school is completely sponsored--or close to that--before we move on to the next one, rather than have, for example, three or four [sponsored students] at one school and maybe five or six sponsored [students] at another. We want to impact one community at a time."

Hope Rising focuses on providing access to Christ-centered education, which means that "we'll produce a future for children that are literate, and have a better understanding of their world, plus being exposed to Christ,"says Geurink.

Most importantly, the discipleship is done through the indigenous believers connected with the program. "The teachers themselves are the disciplers. When they're doing the teaching, they're the ones that are concerned about the individual children. They are concerned about the development of these children and the Christian faith within the curriculum setting."

The price tag for a future? Not much more than a cup of coffee at a fast food restaurant. "It's about a dollar a day to put a kid in school. The children are given an education, many times a lunch, and their materials they need for school." Click here if you can help

 

Dominican Watchdog note:

First the Americans are forced to pay double for their sugar from the Fanjul Brothers. Then soon after they are asked to donate money for clean water, food and education of the poor cane workers kids in the Dominican Republic, while at the same time the owners like Vicini and Fanjul are making billions of dollars on their sugar businesses. Is the average consumer really that stupid? It's about time they say STOP!..... The Sugar Barons are laughing their ass off all the way to the bank everyday and at the same time the family members of these sugar workers and their kids are denied citizenship and education in the DR!!

 

USA TODAY article December 17, 2010

Dominican citizenships put into doubt

ATEY ESPERANZA, Dominican Republic — Altagracia Jean Joseph walks through the dirt streets of the neighborhood called Hope, pointing out the people of Haitian descent who may no longer be citizens of a country where they've spent their entire lives.

There is 20-year-old Yuly Paredes, who lost his contract to play with a baseball camp frequented by scouts from the United States because he could not get official copies of his identity documents. Down the way is Louis Michel, 76, who came from Haiti in 1976 to cut sugar cane. Nearly 35 years later his four grandchildren cannot obtain birth certificates.

Across a rusting fence is a school where many children could be denied access to the free health care offered to citizens of the Dominican Republic, or enrollment in state universities.

"We have so many cases here of people losing their citizenship," said Joseph, 21, who graduated second in her high school class cannot get into a university because the government now says she is Haitian even though she has never lived in Haiti.

The people of Hope are among hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent affected by a change to the Dominican Republic's Constitution.

Many are people who were born to parents who arrived here — some legally, some illegally — while others are three generations removed from their Haitian forebears.

Forcing them to Haiti would threaten to tear families apart and worsen an already terrible situation in Haiti, where a Jan. 12 quake left as many as 1 million Haitians living in camps waiting for their homes to be rebuilt.

"In Haiti, life would be so difficult," says Viola Remi, who has lived in the Dominican Republic for 21 years and her four children were born here.

Philip Jean, who was born here of Haitian parents, says he and others like him would not be welcome in Haiti.

"We are like a horse tied between two poles," he said.

'Limited resources'

The constitutional change came two weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, which makes up the western portion of the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic is on the eastern portion. The change denies citizenship to children born to undocumented residents.

The National Assembly said the change would ensure that a rush of impoverished Haitians fleeing the quake would not claim permanent residence in the Dominican Republic. It was also a response to a ruling by the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights, a regional body that acts on human rights issues for nations that belong to the Organization of American States, which concluded that the Dominican Constitution granted citizenship to Haitians born here.

The ruling was seen by many here as an affront to national sovereignty and an attempt by foreigners to force the Dominican Republic to shoulder responsibility for a poverty-stricken country made worse by inept government and years of failed international oversight.

"We are a country of limited resources," says Prim Pujals Nolasco, chairman of the Senate foreign affairs and international cooperation committee.

The residents of Batey Esperanza — adults and children, professionals and laborers, most with Haitian heritage — say the ruling has made them "stateless." There are around 1 million Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in this country of 9 million, says the Dominican Republic, which has long been a more stable and prosperous nation than Haiti.

Sonia Pierre, a Dominican human rights activist, says hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom are descendents of Haitian sugar cane workers and other laborers, will be forced into the margins of society, where they can be denied health care, schooling and jobs.

"The Dominican of Haitian descent has been put in a situation of total exclusion," Pierre says.

Along with the law, the government here recently tightened the rules on who is eligible to receive the identity papers that are necessary for all facets of life, from voting to getting married.

Those trying to get official identification must now show not only evidence of their own citizenship but also proof that their parents and grandparents were in the country legally.

The new rules are an effort to combat what the government says is overwhelming illegal migration. Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants cross the porous border from Haiti each year, a number that has jumped even higher after the quake.

"We have come to their aid," said Pujals, alluding to assistance to Haiti after the quake. "But based on our calculations, after the earthquake another 57,000 Haitians have come, and so what are we going to do?"

Human rights groups, such as Refugees International, say the changes are not targeting illegal immigrants. They say the laws are mostly hurting people such as Joseph and her neighbors, descendents of Haitian workers who came here often at the request or approval of the Dominican government to work in the sugar industry. Now they are being told they belong to a country most have never been to, and whose people speak a language — Creole — different from their native Spanish.

Joseph discovered that she was affected by the new policies when she went to the civil registry after high school to get a copy of her birth certificate needed to enter a university. Joseph was born in the Dominican Republic— the daughter of migrant Haitian cane cutters — and decided she was going to be either a psychiatrist or a lawyer.

But when she went to collect her paperwork she was told that she was not a citizen. "They said, 'We cannot give you documents because your last name is weird,' " she recalls. "It was hard at first. ... I cried a lot."

Dozens of residents told similar stories. Although the law says that they simply need to prove parents' legality, it is often impossible to find 40- or 50-year-old documents that would give this evidence, they said.

Need naturalization

"To be a stateless person, it's like you're standing still and the world moves on around you," says Maureen Lynch of Refugees International.

The Dominican government rejects the characterization. It says Haitian law grants citizenship to children of Haitians no matter where they are born and the Dominican has a right to decide who its citizens are.

"This term 'stateless' does not apply in the Dominican Republic," Pujals says. "These people ... can register their names in the foreign registry, in their consulates."

But that is difficult, say people caught in the situation.

The Open Society Institute, a foundation that promotes social change, says that according to the Haitian Constitution the only way many Dominicans of Haitian descent can get Haitian nationality would be to live in Haiti for five years and then go through a naturalization process. Joseph and a group of friends from high school, for instance, went to the Haitian Consulate and were told that they were Dominican, not Haitian. Joseph agreed.

"I am Dominican," she says. "This is my country."

Contributing: Steve Sapienza. Hanes and Sapienza report for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, an independent, non-profit group in Washington. USA TODAY editors worked with them in preparing this story and video:

 

 

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