Senators unite in defense of the DR sugar industry

Senators from different party blocs put aside their political differences and united to defend the country from the criticism made by the International Trade Subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives to the Dominican sugar industry.

The legislators of the Upper House wrote a letter to Earl Blumenauer, congressman and chairman of the subcommittee, who sent a statement to US President Joe Biden, indicating “forced labor conditions” in the Dominican sugar industry.

During a meeting in Listín Diario with the director of this medium, Miguel Franjul, the Dominican congressmen explained the negative implications that this communication could bring to the commercial and economic sectors.

The senator from Barahona, José del Castillo Saviñón, was the first to speak and put the situation in context. “The statement was signed by 15 congressmen and accuses the Dominican Republic, specifically the sugar industry, of having forced labor conditions, and affects undocumented Haitian workers, even talking about child labor,” said the legislator.

Castillo Saviñón indicated that they immediately found out about the communication, which was delivered to the US president, they immediately replied with a letter commenting on what was criticized, as they were concerned about possible adverse effects.

“That they cut the sugar quota is a concern, although these arguments generate a reaction from the commercial point of view that does not have an element of reality, because we can testify that both the Haitian and Dominican workers have the same conditions,” said the legislator .

The concern stems from the share that the Dominican Republic has with the United States market, to which it supplied some 183,000 tons of sugar this year, representing an annual profit of about US $ 130 million.

“We are concerned because the economy of almost all these sugar provinces depend on sugar, one province more than another, and it is practically the backbone of the business fabric and the main employer,” he said.

Unit
Precisely the point that united the 11 legislators from the provinces that have sugar production was the importance of these industries in creating jobs and supporting thousands of families in their respective demarcations.

Milcíades Franjul, representative of Peravia, affirmed that all, as representatives of the sugar provinces and some close to the business sector, recognize the importance of this industry and how, even, they have adapted to the new demands of corporate social responsibility.

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In this regard, he highlighted that the sugar companies of the Dominican Republic “have made important progress in improving working conditions in the sugar sector” such as the consolidation of an equal salary between Dominicans and Haitians, health insurance, housing construction, among others.

Special commission
The senator of the province of La Altagracia, Virgilio Cedano, commented that, in a particular way, he initiated an investigation process in his province of the sugar companies, as well as the “colonists” and the “bateyes” where most of the workers reside. of the sector.

According to Cedano, the purpose of the investigation, which was born as a result of these criticisms made by the United States, is to directly observe the conditions of sugar production in his province.

After the comment of the senator of the province La Altagracia to investigate more in depth the performance and working conditions offered by the sugar companies, the director of this medium, Miguel Franjul, suggested the creation of a bicameral commission to monitor employees and employers.

Franjul, after listening to the representative of La Altagracia, suggested that, despite the fact that the letter sent to the United States was signed only by senators, deputies should also be included in the commission, which would allow us to get closer to all the communities that depend on it. of sugar cane.

The suggestion was well received by the senators, who emphasized the director’s words by describing this union of senators as an “important precedent” for future events that require legislative intervention.

The meeting was attended by senators Virgilio Cedano (La Altagracia); Franklin Peña (San Pedro de Macorís); Santiago Zorrilla (El Seibo); José del Castillo Saviñon (Barahona); Milcíades Franjul (Peravia) and Melania Salvador (Bahoruco); Valentín Medrano (Independence); Lenin Valdez (Monte Plata); Cristobal Venerado Castillo (Hato Mayor) and Iván Silva (La Romana), who signed the communication.

Welcome suggestion
The suggestion was well received by the senators, who emphasized the words of the Director of Listin when describing this union of senators as an “important precedent” for future events that require legislative intervention.

The senators Virgilio Cedano (La Altagracia); Franklin Peña (San Pedro de Macorís); Santiago Zorrilla (El Seibo); José del Castillo Saviñón (Barahona); Milcíades Franjul (Peravia) and Melania Salvador (Bahoruco), and others are included.

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