My friend Regine, who works with me on our non-profit to give voice to voiceless Haitian people, is about to head off to Batey 8, which is in Barahona, Dominican Republic. I will ask her a few questions before she heads off.
Richard: Hi Regine. Have you been to the DR cane fields before and tell me a bit about what you do?
Regine. Yes I've been 4 times to Batey 8 and I do community work.
Richard. How would you describe the conditions for the Haitian cane workers?
Regine. Haitian immigrants that come there (Batey 8) live in barracks and they call them (the workers) "Kongo." These Haitians live separate from the rest of the community. They usually do the hard work in terms of sugar cane cutting which is the weed work, the off season work... Yup, cutting weeds... The pay there is by how much sugar cane you bring in so you can imagine they don't bring in much money. It's the grunt work.
Richard. Let me get a better understanding... Cutters get paid for how much cane they bring in but the Haitians are asked to do the weed work? That almost seems like slavery.
Regine. Yup... And they don't like it there. Its kind of sad.
Richard. Why don't they leave?
Regine. Because of false hopes and not having enough money or papers to go home.
Richard. Is there racism over at the Bateys?
Regine. Dominicans live in one area.
Dominicans of Haitian descent live in another area and, the Haitians live in the Baracks. An example: Last summer a rock was thrown in the window of one of the houses there, and my friend Peter walked out and the person who threw the rock said "Oh sorry, I thought it was a Haitian."
Richard. Thanks Regine, I know you're off on your trip to the Batey so good luck to you and the Haitians needing JUSTICE over there.
As an added note, Regine tells me that anyone who wants more insight to Haitians working in the DR cane fields can go to YOUTUBE and look up