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The Price of Sugar (2007)

Unrated | | Documentary | 11 March 2007 (USA)
2:19 | Trailer
On the Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic, tourists flock to pristine beaches, with little knowledge that a few miles away thousands of dispossessed Haitians are under armed guard ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Christopher Hartley ...
Himself (as Father Christopher Hartley)


On the Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic, tourists flock to pristine beaches, with little knowledge that a few miles away thousands of dispossessed Haitians are under armed guard on plantations harvesting sugarcane, most of which ends up in US kitchens. Cutting cane by machete, they work 14 hour days, 7 days a week, frequently without access to decent housing, electricity, clean water, education, healthcare or adequate nutrition. The Price of Sugar follows a charismatic Spanish priest, Father Christopher Hartley, as he organizes some of this hemisphere's poorest people, challenging the powerful interests profiting from their work. This film raises key questions about where the products we consume originate, at what human cost they are produced and ultimately, where our responsibility lies. Written by Louise Rosen Ltd.

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11 March 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I timi tis zaharis  »

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Fiction not Fact
21 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I'm a Dominican immigrant who, since 10 years ago, calls the U.S. home. I'm the descendant of Jamaican immigrants who was born in a Dominican batey – a "sugar baby," if you will. I lived and worked hand-in-hand with many Haitian immigrants who, faced with extremely deplorable economic and living conditions in their homeland, cross the border to find opportunities for them and their families.

I had the opportunity to watch this movie in Atlanta, and I was appalled at the manipulation of facts and images, as well as some blatant falsehoods that appear in this film, which has been promoted as "facts-based." For starters, the Haitian immigration into the Dominican Republic is no different than that of Dominicans to the U.S. It's people who leave their own country looking for a better life. No one forces them to leave; nor are they "recruited" or loaded onto trucks and taken across the border. Believe me, there's no need to that. They want to leave Haiti as, in their own country, they can't even survive! The movie states that Haitians are discriminated against. That is just not true. The Haitians who lived in the bateyes where I grew up received the same treatment as everyone else, including children born of Dominican parents. We were all paid the same.

I can assure you that we were not treated differently that the Haitians. We're all paid in cash, not vouchers as the movie states. That's not to say that conditions in the sugar fields, and in the whole agricultural industry in the Dominican Republic, need not be improved.

Today, there are more than one million Haitians in the Dominican Republic, most of them illegal immigrants. Most of them work in construction, tourism and informal trade, and less than 1% work in the sugar cane fields; however, The Price of Sugar distorts the numbers and says that 30,000 are smuggled annually.

Finally, and as an immigrant that was given an opportunity in this great country, I equate my situation here to that of the Haitians in the DR. When I first came to the U.S., even though I had a Bachelor's degree, I worked two shifts as a dish-washer at a hotel. It wasn't easy work, but I had made that choice in hopes of having a better future. That's the same choice that Haitian immigrants make when they cross the border into the Dominican Republic, be it to work in the sugar fields, construction or whatever else. They've made that choice hoping for a better tomorrow. They're free to move in and out of the bateyes as they wish, and to go back to their country any time they want. However, they choose to stay because, even though the Dominican Republic is a very poor country, they have a better life.

Therefore, I would appreciate it if we can keep the facts straight and call The Price of Sugar a work of fiction instead of a documentary.

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