Dominican sugar imports linked to forced labor rejected by the United States


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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The U.S. government announced Wednesday that it will withhold all imports of sugar and related products made in the Dominican Republic by Central Romana Corporation, Ltd. amid allegations that he used forced labor.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection investigation found the company allegedly isolated workers, withheld wages, fostered abusive working and living conditions and pushed for excessive overtime, the agency said in a statement. Press release.

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“Manufacturers like Central Romana who violate our laws will face consequences as we root these inhumane practices out of U.S. supply chains,” said AnnMarie Highsmith of the CBP Bureau of Commerce.

A company spokeswoman did not immediately return a text message seeking comment. Central Romana, which has long faced such charges, is the Dominican Republic’s largest sugar producer.

The announcement was cheered by activists who have long spoken out against the treatment of tens of thousands of workers who live and work in vast sugar cane fields, many of whom are Haitian migrants or their descendants.

« This is necessary to improve their situation, » said Roudy Joseph, a workers’ rights activist in the Dominican Republic, in a telephone interview. “We have been calling for improvements for decades.

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Last year, The Associated Press visited several sugar cane fields owned by Central Romana where workers complained of a lack of pay, being forced to live in cramped quarters that lacked water and rules restrictive, including not being allowed to cultivate a garden to feed their families since transportation to the nearest grocery store miles away was too expensive.

Joseph noted that at least 6,000 workers are also claiming pensions they never got despite paying their dues.

Sugar cane workers have also staged several protests this year to demand permanent residencies after working for decades in the Dominican Republic as the country cracks down on Haitian migrants under President Luis Abinader’s administration, sparking protests. strong international criticism.

Central Romana produced nearly 400,000 tons (363,000 metric tons) of sugar during the harvest period that ended last year after crushing more than 3.4 million tons (3 million metric tons ) of cane, according to the company.



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