SANTO DOMINGO – Hundreds of the workers who cut cane on Dominican sugar plantations – many of them Haitian migrants – marched to the National Palace here on Thursday to dramatize their demand for better pensions and other benefits.
“We cane-cutters have no other choice but to come to the symbols of power, in struggle, in mobilizations for our rights,” Jesus Nuñez, an official with the UTC union, told reporters during the protest.
The sugar workers have spent years demonstrating for increased pensions and for the award of residence permits to the Haitians who make up a large proportion of the industry workforce.
The pensions are not only inadequate, but authorities delay payments for years on end, according to Nuñez, who said that 65 percent of the cane-cutters who applied for pensions in 1999 have since died.
The UTC is seeking an increase in the monthly pension from 5,117 pesos ($110) to 10,000 pesos ($215).
“This round of protest will not end until the state responds to our demands,” Nuñez said.