This video is a trailer for the film The Price Of Sugar.
By Matt Waller:
The Price of Sugar: Horrifying conditions exposed—and a legal counterattack
8 May 2008
Directed by Bill Haney, written by Haney and Peter Rhodes
The Price of Sugar, a documentary by Bill Haney portraying the near-slavery conditions facing Haitian cane-cutters on Dominican sugar plantations, has prompted a defamation lawsuit by the Dominican sugar corporation highlighted in the film, accompanied by a cease-and-desist order aimed at preventing the showing of the film.
Narrated by Paul Newman and made for just $750,000, the documentary—Haney’s fourth film—is well paced and skillfully directed. It follows the efforts of a Catholic priest, Christopher Hartley, to relieve the conditions of the immigrant Haitian workers in his parish, a 600-square-mile region consisting mostly of vast plantations owned by the Vicini family, second largest of the wealthy Dominican sugar barons. In the process Hartley incurs the wrath of the Vicinis, who launch a concerted and ugly smear campaign against him.
The heart of the film is its exposure of the systematic exploitation of Haitian workers by the sugar industry. We see how the Dominican companies use promises of a better life to lure busloads of impoverished Haitians over the border in mass illegal crossings, while the government and military turn a blind eye.
Once in the Dominican Republic, the workers find themselves confined to the bateyes (plantation shantytowns), forced to perform the backbreaking and dangerous labor of cutting cane with machetes, while living in unspeakable squalor. Crowded into tiny metal-roofed shacks without plumbing, they have no access to proper health care and often lack even clean water. Incidences of AIDS, dengue fever and malaria in the bateyes are reported to be among the highest in the world.
The workers cut cane for up to 14 hours a day, and at one point we see a typical cutter who is forced to work barefoot on the sharp stubble of the cut stalks, unable to afford shoes. The pay is less than a dollar a day, delivered not in cash but in vouchers redeemable at the company store for merchandise at highly inflated prices. According to the film most workers cannot afford adequate food, and meet their daily calorie needs only by chewing the sugarcane.