The Price of Sugar

Posted on January 23, 2012


This movie provides images to an unspoken reality plaguing the sugar cane industry in Dominican Republic.  The living conditions on what are called Bateyes is appalling, striking and makes your stomach sink to the floor…but everyone should watch.  One Haitian cane worker shares , “I’m not afraid [to die] because I believe there is no death worse than this.  Living without equality and justice is like living in a tomb, it’s Hell.”  

Overview of Film according to New York Times:

“The Price of Sugar,” Bill Haney’s muckraking documentary about Haitians lured into a form of indentured servitude on sugar plantations across the border in the Dominican Republic, focuses on the Rev. Christopher Hartley, a courageous and stubborn Spanish priest who devoted 10 years to bettering their desperate plight. The movie visits the workers’ shantytowns, known as bateyes, which, according to the film, resembled forced labor camps patrolled by armed guards before Father Hartley’s reform movement. Through his organizing and relentless pressuring of the plantation owners in the face of death threats, some bateyes in his parish now have improved living and working conditions and have been visited by American doctors. “The Price of Sugar” is narrated in calm, gravelly tones by Paul Newman. Like most documentary polemics, it simplifies the issues it confronts and selects facts that bolster its black-and-white, heroes-and-villains view of raw economic power. — Stephen Holden