Visions of Haiti: Documentaries of the Dominican Sugar Industry

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Between the years 2006-2007 human rights advocates produced three documentaries on Haitians who work in the Dominican Republic’s sugar industry. This webpage is dedicated to studying the images of Haitians and the Dominican sugar industry as they are portrayed in these documentary films. In light of the gravity of the subject matter, critiques of the documentaries are fashioned to provide information, add to the ongoing discussion, and to further awareness of human-rights abuses taking place in the sugar-producing sector of the Dominican economy.

The three films that serve as the subjects of analysis are: “The Sugar Babies” (2007), “The Price of Sugar” (2006), and “Di Perejíl, Say Parsley” (2006). More information on these films can be found under Sources. As a method of analysis I have focused my attention on seven “themes” that arise within the documentaries. They are: Family, Citizenship, Children, Slavery, Racism, Poverty, and Haitians’ Vision of the D.R. On each of these pages, I provide clips from the documentaries with corresponding critiques. I also provide further information that I have gleaned from secondary sources.  In choosing the seven themes, I have striven to provide a categorization that adequately addresses the various sectors of Haitian life affected by the sugar industry and the problems Haitian migrants face in the Dominican Republic.  Nonetheless, I realize that any endeavor to this end is a vain attempt to simplify many interrelated forces. In this respect, Samuel Martinez’s metaphor of an onion, “a dense, layered mass of mutually supporting injustices” is an apt description of the situation Haitian migrant workers and their descendants face in the Dominican Republic (“The Onion of Oppression,” 55). This page is dedicated to an exploration of the “bitter onion” of life in the bateyes and the way Haitians migrants have appeared in documentaries on the subject.

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