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US Bans Sugar Imports From Top Dominican Producer Over Forced Labor Allegations

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In an investigation by Reveal and Mother Jones, workers for the Central Romana Corp. spoke of inadequate protective gear, poor medical care, withheld pensions, and debt.

This is a developing story and may be updated.

The United States will block shipments of raw sugar from a top Dominican producer with close ties to two wealthy Florida businessmen after finding indications of forced labor at its sprawling Caribbean plantation. Sugar from the Central Romana Corp.’s cane fields feeds into the supply chains of major U.S. brands, including Domino and the Hershey Co. 

The ban on all imports from Central Romana went into effect today.

“Manufacturers like Central Romana, who fail to abide by our laws, will face consequences as we root out these inhumane practices from U.S. supply chains,” said AnnMarie R. Highsmith, executive assistant commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Trade in a press release

The company is owned in part by the Florida-based Fanjul Corp., a global sugar and real estate conglomerate. 

The federal investigation found five indications of labor abuse among cane cutters employed and housed by Central Romana: abuse of vulnerability, isolation, withholding of wages, abusive working and living conditions, and excessive overtime. Central Romana’s plantation shipped more than 295 million pounds of raw sugar from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. last year.  

This action follows a two-year investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and Mother Jones that sparked criticism of the Dominican sugar industry from Democratic lawmakers in Washington.  

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