Fotógrafo del National Geographic

Bitter Sugar Harvest. The Zafra (2001)

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Between December and June, Haitian laborers, seduced by the pipe dream of a better life end up picking sugarcane in the fields of the Dominican Republic. This is what the Zafra is, picking sugarcane under an unmerciful sun, in what amounts to modern day slavery with conditions that violate all international labor laws known to man.


The “braceros” are kept in virtual isolation in miserable conditions until enough of them are rounded up and then sent to the “bayetes,” the place where the sugarcane is harvested. Their meager belongings are confiscated, their human rights are suspended and then forced to work from sunrise to sunset under armed vigilance. Most of the four-hundred bayetes have no running water, no electricity, no cooking facilities, no toilets and schools, if they exist at all, are squalid ruinous affairs. Families are packed tightly into miniscule mud huts with bare earthen floors.

Their miserable wages do not amount to two dollars for each ton of sugarcane they harvest. Worse still, if that were possible, the laborers are paid in company vouchers, instead of cash, redeemable only in the company stores where they can buy only foodstuffs at 20 to 30 cents on the dollar.

Tino Soriano About

Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Tino Soriano divides his work between photojournalism and travel photography. He has been honored with numerous national and international awards from groups such as World Press Photo, UNESCO, and FotoPres, among others...


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Fotógrafo del National Geographic, Tino Soriano
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