[Translations of three articles, one by the Spanish news agency EFE as published in El Nuevo Diario of Santo Domingo on April 24, two from Listín Diario of Santo Domingo for April 24 and 25. See originals here, here and here. Christopher Hartley is featured in the film “The Price of Sugar;” for more information, go here.]
US investigates priest’s claims of slave labor
Santo Domingo – The United States Department of Labor has opened an investigation in the Dominican Republic into charges by the priest Christopher Hartley, who claims sugar producers are subjecting workers in the industry to conditions of slavery, the US embassy reports. Hartley is currently outside the Dominican Republic but from 1997 to 2006 he worked in the bateyes, workers’ villages set up on sugar plantations, in the San José de los Llanos parish, in the eastern province of San Pedro de Macorís.
The Anglo-Spanish priest has for years made denunciations on the treatment of workers who cut sugar cane, most of whom are Haitian, by large companies.
He has accused them of human trafficking, child labor, racial discrimination and failure to provide health care, as well as of exploitation, fraud and labor abuse.
The United States embassy today confirmed in a communiqué the arrival in the Caribbean country of a delegation from the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) of the US Labor Department.
The visit by the delegation is called for by provisions of the Free Trade Agreement between Central America, the Dominican Republic and the Untied States (CAFTA) and is in response to the receipt in December, 2011, of a request by Hartley, who denounced “violations with respect to the employment of the work force on the sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic.”
The priest said today, before the arrival of the inspectors, that the workers “are being threatened” with “the consequences of speaking to the United States team about the conditions of their lives and work.”
The investigation will seek to determine “if activity by the Dominican Republic is incompatible with the obligations established in the chapter on labor of the Free Trade Agreement,” according to a note form the embassy.
This evaluation, which OTLA will carry out during a period of 180 days in conjunction with the office of the trade representative of the United States and in collaboration with the Dominican government, does not assume “a determination” on the priest’s denunciation, the source said.
Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso said of Hartley’s denunciations that his objective is to denigrate and belittle the Dominican Republic, adding that “advances in improving the working conditions in the sugar industry are in plain view, except to the Spanish priest,” the newspaper Listín Diario reported today.
by Ramón Pérez Reyes
The Dominican Republic yesterday began the process of defending itself against the campaign to discredit it being carried out by Spanish priest Christopher Hartley with the objective of “denigrating and belittling the country.”
The defense was presented to a commission from the Labor Department of the United States, the United States ambassador in the country, Raúl HumbertoYzaguirre, and other authorities, who met yesterday with the Dominican chancellor, Carlos Morales Troncoso.
The minister was accompanied by vice ministers for foreign affairs José Manuel Trullols, Rosario Graciano and Miguel Pichardo, as well as by officials of the Dominican ministry of labor.
Before the meeting in the chancellery, Ambassador Yzaguirre told journalists that he does not believe the denunciations will have consequences for the country. He explained that the meeting is the first step in conversations on the question that the United States and Dominican governments will hold.
“It is true that there is a process, and we are at the first level, but it is not of great importance. We are clarifying the situation and we expect something fruitful and beneficial for the workers and for the relations of the two countries,” the diplomat said in a brief press conference.
The official insisted that there is no reason to expect anything negative. Meanwhile, minister Morales Troncoso declared that he could not imagine any country giving in to the campaign of disrepute that the priest Hartley is carrying out.
The priest presented to the Labor Department of the United States a charge of alleged failure by the Dominican government to comply with implementation of the labor laws on sugar plantations, as stipulated in Chapter 16 of the DR-CAFTA Free Trade Agreement.
“Advances in the improvement of working conditions in the sugar industry are in plain sight, except to the Spanish priest,” declared chancellor Morales Troncoso, after stating that “Father Hartley’s animosity toward the Dominican Republic is known to everyone, especially after the circumstances that forced him to leave his ministry and after the differences with the ecclesiastical hierarchy.”
Last night, the United States labor department released a note stating that review of the public request by Father Hartley calls for a determination of the validity or accuracy of the allegations it contains. “In accord with the provision of the procedure, OTLA will take 180 days to review and to report publicly on the questions posed in the communication from Father Hartley.”
The process of review to determine whether the country’s activities are incompatible with the obligations established in the labor chapter of the Free Trade Agreement will be taken up in consultation with the office of the United State Trade Representative and the US State Department. The delegation is working in collaboration with the Dominican government.
by Katheryn Luna
Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez has declared that the attitude of Spanish priest Christopher Hartley in discrediting the country in international forums is unworthy of the church.
“We do not believe that it is proper for a Catholic priest to be discrediting a country in all the international forums,” he stated.
López Rodríguez told Listín Diario that the priest’s campaign is “very painful,” considering the well known conditions that affect him.
The cardinal endorsed a denunciation by Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso about the campaign led by Hartley, alleging that his activities in several countries are continuing, although he hopes the priest will calm down a little.
“Here, for example, we have problems with the massive presence of Haitians. These people came here initially to work in sugar cane, but now we have the presence of at least a million Haitians and they are working at all the jobs; sugar may be the least of them by now; they are in agricultural work, hotels, businesses, construction, they are being welcomed,” he declared. He stressed that it is thanks to the Dominican Republic that Haiti is not in worse condition after the earthquake of January 12, 2010.
“We must say this quite frankly. Since the beginnig of the earthquake, the president of the republic has been there. In a massive and sustained way there was also aid in food, clothing and all kinds of needs that existed in Haiti and that still exist,” he added.
“I can say modestly that one of the countries that helped Haiti the most after the earthquake is the Dominican Republic; nevertheless, there is no end to these attacks against us,” he pointed out.
Cardinal López Rodríguez spoke with Listín Diario during a meeting with representatives of the Consorcio Latinoamericano de Libertad Religiosa, in the archbishopric in the Zona Colonial.
The presence of Haitian religious groups
López Rodríguez said that there is a large number of religious groups in the country, particularly protestants, of whom evangelicals and pentecostals are the most visible…
Tags: Carlos Morales Troncoso, Christopher Hartley, Dominican Republic, DR-CAFTA, Free Trade Agreement, Haiti, Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, Office of Trade and Labor Affairs, Raúl HumbertoYzaguirre, slave labor, sugar cane, US embassy, US Labor Department