U.S. Congressmen Call for Investigation of Dominican Republic’s Sugar Sector
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.