A Personal Story, The truth about child workers in Dominican sugar plantations

Robert Falcetti Photography Most of the sugar we eat is harvested by people who are essentially slaves. They get very little pay during the growing season, and none in the off season.

After the last 'Happy New Year' is chanted, many folks turn to their resolutions for self-improvement.

For one Plantsville resident, self-reflection came a bit earlier in the year. Robert Falcetti, a documentary photographer, discovered a reason for paying it forward when a June 2011 marketing assignment took him to the Dominican Republic.

Falcetti’s expertise lies in his ability to cover a variety of subjects for advertising, editorial, and education marketing purposes. Assignments can take him to war-torn places such as Honduras, Croatia, El Salvador and Bosnia and back again to stateside to capture celebrity portraits, soldier funerals, and every last mud splatter from dirt bike riding.

But when Falcetti encountered Dominican sugar cane workers, many of them children, it triggered an instinct to help. “I saw in those children my own kids, and it struck me how different their lives were but how similar their needs are,” said Falcetti.

The trip to the plantations wasn’t a planned event on his part. “I wasn’t working in a news or humanitarian capacity. I was there with students who were visiting the area. We came face-to-face with conditions that shouldn’t exist,” Falcetti remembered.

Large contingents of workers live in bateyes, company owned towns, made up of barracks and other substandard housing set up for Haitian immigrants during sugar cane planting harvest seasons. Haitians are brought there with the promise of work, only to have their citizen papers confiscated, leaving them illegal in a foreign land. They cannot leave the grounds and are forced to work. Compensation for hard labor is less than $3 for a 12-hour day and those who don’t work from either being sick or old simply go without a meal of rice and beans. Many one-room structures board up to five people and lack basic amenities such as plumbing.

Dominican-born children from parents of Haitian descent are denied citizenship, which then excludes them from access to education beyond a fourth grade level. The abject poverty contributes to illness and without resources, workers become trapped.

When Falcetti returned home he gave his kids Noah, 12, Sarah, 9, and Kate, 13, colorful bracelets made by the Dominican children. The girls suggested selling some at South End School’s movie night event to raise food money for the people who lived in the bateyes. They raised $267. Noah sold $40 worth during Kennedy Middle School's Entrepreneur Club night and all three children, with the assistance from friend Daria Gagnon, took in another $137 selling bracelets at Kennedy Middle School Holiday Bizarre.

Falcetti photographed Dominican sugar cane workers and was inspired to create The Bracelet Project. Falcetti purchased bracelets, (some made by Dominican Republic children) and will send back proceeds from sales to feed the villagers during off-season. About 100 people can eat for $75.

“I'm not an activist. The pictures are a means to educate people about the sugar industry in Dominican Republic and perhaps they will peak interest into our own consumption of sugar and at what cost to sugar cane workers.

Falcetti ruminates about how much Americans spend daily on everyday items. “The money spent for daily cups of coffee could feed a family there. If we don’t help others, what good are we?” The photographer is planning to return to Dominican Republic in June 2012, and is eager to spread the word about The Bracelet Project. Falcetti welcomes fundraising and speaking opportunities at area churches or schools. He can be reached by robertfalcetti.com

For more information on the sugar consumption in the U.S. see this form


Dominican Watchdog Note: Nice to see that somebody is doing something good. Sadly enough the Sugar Barons don't care! Dominican Watchdog as planning a U.S. online awareness campaign about the Dominican sugar industry and their over priced suger sold to American consumers.


Watch this video about the sugar slaves, read also:

What you need to know about Fanjuls

Fanjuls cash in while U.S. taxpayers foot $1.8 billion bill for destruction of the Everglades

Vicini Group lost legal attack on Dominican Watchdog, Felipe Vicini lies about the Price of Sugar

Stop Sugar Purchases from the Dominican Republic, Sugar Barons are making billions from child labor and slavery conditions!


Join Roberts campaign on Facebook!

LET IT SNOW FOR BATEY 50! OK, everyone, let's do some good on this snowy day. Please consider a donation for the people of Batey 50, a sugar cane village in the Dominican Republic. Please pass this link along.
Go back | Date: 10 Jan 2012
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