Economy April 29, 2023 | 10:27 am

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U.S. officials to come to verify sugarcane growers’ situation in the Dominican Republic

The United States government prohibited the entry of sugar from Central Romana to its territory. ARCHIVE / LD

La Romana.- Next May, a commission of the United States Department of Labor will come to the country to verify the reality of the sugar cane workers and the denunciations made to Central Romana.

The information was offered by the Minister of Labor, Luis Miguel De Camps, during his participation in the Listín Diario Breakfast, where he specified that the visit of the US officials was due to a request of the country. De Camps said three joint meetings with three departments (State, Commerce, and Labor) and three ministries were held weeks ago.

The Minister said that for more than a decade, the sugar cane production sector had had a kind of warning “or Sword of Damocles,” which has shown that these allegations have been unfounded.

It is recalled that during specific periods, reports of alleged mistreatment in the Dominican sugar mills, particularly child labor, were made public by various media and the Department of Labor.

This type of report, however, has recognized essential improvements in the living conditions in the Dominican mills.

In March 2022, a delegation from the Department of Labor came to the country, and a Technical Working Group was created to follow up on these cases.

“One of the things to highlight from the report made by the US Department of Labor last year is the recognition that there is an absence of child labor in the sugar sector in the Dominican Republic,” the official indicated.

In the last report, he explained that the rebuke was about forced labor. Therefore, the US customs authorities acted against Central Romana, which has the largest production quota, although the penalty is for the entire sector.

He said that given this fact, they have been working on improvement plans and “in the individualization of the facts.” He also recalled that a US congressman came last year to the country, and who represents the beet sugar-producing sector denounced slavery in the country a few weeks ago. So, naturally, the answer to the US congressional representative was to say where, how, when, with whom, n which company, and what he saw because impressions of that type affect the company, the country, and the working class.

“Next month, in May, a commission from the Department of Labor with whom we regularly talk with is coming just for that, at our request and in constant coordination to be able to show the areas of improvement and also show the events that make them reach those conclusions,” he said.

Likewise, the Minister emphasized that progress has been made. Still, ten or twelve years claiming that has to be dismantled with arguments and samples of the realities, especially in strengthening inspection and identification capacities, “because at the end of the day, the right to work is a human right.”

In this context, he said, workers’ rights have to be safeguarded, including the right to freedom of association. The official said there is a process of improvement in the inspections, verifying the realities, and compliance with the norms.

Minister De Camps was accompanied by Elsa Sabrina De La Cruz Vargas, vice minister of union and business relations, Gustavo Piantini, general director of employment, and Johanna Hilario from the Department of Communications of the Ministry of Labor.

Manuel Corripio, president of Editora; Miguel Franjul, director of Listín Diario; and journalist Cándida Acosta, editor of Economía & Negocios, participated in the meeting.

In July 2022, the Department of Agriculture of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) granted the highest tariff quota for raw sugar exports from 35 countries in the world to the Dominican Republic, surpassing that of Brazil and the Philippines.

2023 QUOTA
The tariff quota allocated to the DR for 2023 is 189,343 metric tons of cane sugar.

The Dominican sugar mills that export cane sugar are Central Romana Corporation, Consorcio Azucarero de Empresas Industriales (CAEI), and Consorcio Azucarero Central (CAC).

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Paul Tierney
April 29, 2023 1:58 pm

This visit is a step in the right direction. One can expect Central Romana will be dressing up for the occasion. Just hope the commission will be unbiased in its observations. It could be suspect the claims of mistreatment of the CR workers came from third parties not having first-hand experience observing the existing working conditions but sympathectic to stories of alleged abuses. Other mistreatment claims may have come from interests directly or indirectly bound to advance US sugar cane production and against foreign imports, interests have powerful friends in government.

April 29, 2023 8:15 pm

Best visit Haiti… To see real

April 30, 2023 9:38 am

They should visit haitians in haiti to see how they are treated in their failed state