US Congresmen call for investigation into DR sugar sector

melphis

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According to a letter released Thursday, fifteen U.S. congressmen have called on President Joe Biden’s administration to investigate allegations of “forced labor” in the Dominican Republic’s sugarcane production for U.S. consumption.
The members of the Subcommittee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives asked that “the accusations of exploitation and forced labor” in the sugar industry of the Dominican Republic be reviewed, alluding to accusations contained in the Pandora Papers, a journalistic investigation carried out from the leak of data.
The letter recalls a Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America, and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR).
The text is addressed to the United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, the head of the Department of Labor, Marty Walsh, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.
In October 2021, the subcommittee already sounded the alarm about “the terrible conditions” of these workers. In December, a report warned of the demolition of hundreds of homes of these people by the largest private sugar producer in the Dominican Republic, they reported in a statement.
Recent journalistic investigations provide evidence that “working conditions in the Dominican Republic’s sugar sector remain abhorrent,” the letter states.
Written and video testimonies collected in these investigations describe, according to the letter, “miserable wages, excessive working hours, lack of security or protective equipment, appalling housing conditions with limited access to water and electricity, denial of public benefits such as pensions, social security and medical care.”
Citing the same source, the congressmen also denounce the “harassment” against workers.
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The above is a copy paste from Dominican Today. It will be interesting to see if the administration does anything or looks the other way like the rest of the world. Eventually these 15 misguided people will learn that nobody cares. So long as the sugar is cheap it's all good.

Except of course for the cane workers.
 

melphis

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I would ask that no one makes this political as several politicians are named and this thread will be shut down if we go there.

So without bashing the US side does anyone think this will get any traction or is it just more political pandering.
 
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NanSanPedro

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It's a difficult thing to evaluate. Imposing 1st world solutions on 3rd world problems.

I did not see what they wrote about when I went to the bateys. I know in the past it was worse, but my experience is not what they wrote about. It's also hard for me to see the US do anything right now considering the state of the government and all the internal problems. But, perhaps they need a diversion.
 

melphis

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Before the highway from the PC area to the capital was completed we sometimes took the short cut thru the cane fields to avoid Higuey. Poverty was rampart, safety was non existent, and it was very obvious that this was a cycle that would never end.
At this point there are no easy answers to fix this. For most of us here it won't happen in our life time and that's sad. So long as the Haitians keep showing up to tend the cane it will continue to happen regardless of how many outsiders bitch, whine and moan.
Cheap sugar makes the world happy.
 
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Big

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Trying to extort and shake down big business is a broken record.
 

zoomzx11

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The US buys a lot of Dominican sugar so what's the harm of a little investigation into what is goin on?
No one whined when China was closely looked over accusations of forced labor.
The buyers of sugar have a right to know the industry treats the sugar labor in a humane fashion.

How about proposing an association of sugar cane workers, you know like a union? Then listen to the squealing.
If it were Dominicans subject to abuse no one would bat an eye at looking into sugar labor conditions.
The abuses are well know but since its Haitians suffering it does not get the attention it deserves.
The US has a much different view of the importance of human rights and that is what this is about.
 

chico bill

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There are many countries growing sugarcane.
Brazil, Thailand, Phillipines and others.
Even the US southern states produce more than DR.
It's a commodity and buyer's will go to the cheapest quality source.
If price goes up maybe the US and others will use less, which is not a bad thing.
But the jobs will slowly be gone altogether if sugarcane prices exceed world commodity indexes
 
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I would ask that no one makes this political as several politicians are named and this thread will be shut down if we go there.
OK.
So without bashing the US side does anyone think this will get any traction or is it just more political pandering.
It appears you already have.........made it political by your question.

That having been said, this information was released in the Pandora Papers in October 2021.

And all the members of said committee are from one political party.

And eerily silent on the issue has been a certain Dominican born Congressman.

And I do hope the female members of that committee do not take offense at the headline.

There is more.........much more...........but lets not make it political....ok.

Respectfully,
Playacaribe2
 

mountainannie

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There are many countries growing sugarcane.
Brazil, Thailand, Phillipines and others.
Even the US southern states produce more than DR.
It's a commodity and buyer's will go to the cheapest quality source.
If price goes up maybe the US and others will use less, which is not a bad thing.
But the jobs will slowly be gone altogether if sugarcane prices exceed world commodity indexes
US sugar prices are tightly controlled through quotas & price supports:

..."“Today’s announcement is a bad deal for hardworking Americans and exemplifies the worst form of crony capitalism,” said the Coalition for Sugar Reform -- which represents Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft Heinz and hundreds of other food companies -- in an incendiary statement. “U.S. sugar policy should empower America’s food and beverage companies to create more jobs, not put hundreds of thousands of good-paying U.S. jobs at risk just to benefit one small interest group.”
From the food industry’s perspective, this agreement -- and the controversial U.S. sugar-support policy that it represents -- artificially inflates U.S. sugar prices to points far above the world market. According to the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, which measures price according to futures contracts, the world price for both raw and refined sugar is lower than the respective U.S. raw and refined sugar prices."...

 

chico bill

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US sugar prices are tightly controlled through quotas & price supports:

..."“Today’s announcement is a bad deal for hardworking Americans and exemplifies the worst form of crony capitalism,” said the Coalition for Sugar Reform -- which represents Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft Heinz and hundreds of other food companies -- in an incendiary statement. “U.S. sugar policy should empower America’s food and beverage companies to create more jobs, not put hundreds of thousands of good-paying U.S. jobs at risk just to benefit one small interest group.”
From the food industry’s perspective, this agreement -- and the controversial U.S. sugar-support policy that it represents -- artificially inflates U.S. sugar prices to points far above the world market. According to the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, which measures price according to futures contracts, the world price for both raw and refined sugar is lower than the respective U.S. raw and refined sugar prices."...

Definitely. The US sugar production has been ramping down for decades.
Too expensive to pay the cost.
Not sure it's a bad thing and if demand is there the jobs will move outside the US.
Puerto Rico completely lost its sugarcane industry because the Puerto Ricans would not work in the fields at a price that was competitive.
 

chico bill

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Before the highway from the PC area to the capital was completed we sometimes took the short cut thru the cane fields to avoid Higuey. Poverty was rampart, safety was non existent, and it was very obvious that this was a cycle that would never end.
At this point there are no easy answers to fix this. For most of us here it won't happen in our life time and that's sad. So long as the Haitians keep showing up to tend the cane it will continue to happen regardless of how many outsiders bitch, whine and moan.
Cheap sugar makes the world happy.
Same with the apples in Washington State, as one example.
Migrants keep coming for the harvest each year and are paid low wages. And they count on that seasonal work.
If apples were double the price they wouldn't be able to market as many.
And if the jobs, even cheap ones, go away those that count on them will be even poorer.
And mechanical planting, harvesting and robot irrigation is slowly taking over farm work due to rising labor costs
Inflations is out of control now.
Imagine if the whole world were paid that 'magical $15/hour' - So many jobs would disappear and so many poor might become poorer still.
 
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How dare those business owners not share their profits with field workers. I mean just because they own the business, took all the risks, hired engineers, accountants, lawyers, invested massive amounts of money in equipment , calculated complex foreign currency transactions ,of course they should be paying the guys in the field 22.00 an hour for swinging a machete. They should also give the best field hands a new SUV.
 

mountainannie

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How dare those business owners not share their profits with field workers. I mean just because they own the business, took all the risks, hired engineers, accountants, lawyers, invested massive amounts of money in equipment , calculated complex foreign currency transactions ,of course they should be paying the guys in the field 22.00 an hour for swinging a machete. They should also give the best field hands a new SUV.
Life working in the Sugar Industry here in Palm Beach county is much better since the cutting is mechanized

Belle Glade, FL, where 1/2 of all the US sugar is produced is the poorest city in Florida



..."It is also an area replete with nebulizers, The Palm Beach Post and ProPublica found. Residents live among swaths of cane fields, which companies burn during the winter-to-spring harvest. Cane burning is the cheapest method to prepare it for harvest, but one that releases harmful pollution into the rural atmosphere. Sugar representatives have fiercely defended the practice, denying that it causes major pollution or health problems. But many residents told the news organizations they avoid the outdoors because of asthma or other breathing problems during the harvest season."...


Life in Belle Glade is
is a lot better than life on the batayes in the DR
Which, I suspect, you have never visited?

You would speak with a great deal more authority if you knew anything about life on the Batayes

...,"The sugar industry is one of the wealthiest, most powerful industries in the Dominican Republic. They own an incredible amount of land, where bateyes are built. Men work in the field cutting sugar cane with a machete all day long – very physical, repetitive and demanding work. For this, they earn between 8,000 and 25,000 pesos a month ($160-$500). The sole employer in the area, the company governs bateyes, providing housing for all men employed and their families. Houses have minimal comfort, and life in the batey is closely controlled by the company’s police, which will interrupt any activity that doesn’t suit the company’s interests. Some bateyes offer more services than others, such as basic schooling and – for the larger ones – medical services.

.As Hodrina explains, “life in my batey was really hard. We were very isolated and didn’t even have the electricity.” With her husband and 2 kids, she moved a couple years ago to a larger batey. Her new house has electricity and medical services close by. Hodrina works as a maid and raised funds for a Kiva loan to resells clothes bought in Santo Domingo from her house. This second income allows her to provide her 2 (soon 3!) children with all they need to go to school. "...

 

NanSanPedro

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So - IMHO - it would not be TOO much to ask that the workers on the batayes be provided with decent housing... running water -- electricity

No matter how little they are paid --

Since they live on company land...

Completely agree. I am as conservative as a Ronnie Reagan clone, but am also a Christian. We are admonished to love our neighbor as ourselves as a demonstration of loving the invisible God. We view (or should view) our wealth as a gift from God. Does that mean we need to live on dirt floors and drink toilet water? Of course not. But we need to help those who can't help themselves. If we are business owners, that means treating them as we wanted to be treated. This is not rocket science or advanced theology. It's just the way things should be.