Christopher Hartley

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For the British officer, see Christopher Hartley (RAF officer).

Christopher Hartley (born 1959) is a British-Spanish Catholic missionary priest who labored from 1997 to 2006 among the Haitian sugar cane workers of the bateyes in Los Llanos in the municipality of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic to bring more humane conditions to their lives and work. His work in the Dominican Republic was portrayed in the film The Price of Sugar (2008), produced and directed by Bill Haney.

Life among the poor[edit]

Father Hartley, having grown up in a wealthy family in England, chose to become a priest at the age of 15. He worked for many years with Mother Teresa in Calcutta and with Latino immigrants in the Bronx.

His activism to improve living and working conditions of Haitian immigrants brought him into confrontation with the Vicini family that owns the sugar plantations in Los Llanos, and one of the wealthiest and most influential families of the Dominican Republic.

In September 2006 he accompanied a delegation of US congressmen to assess the living conditions of the Haitian migrants.[1]

Departure from the Dominican Republic[edit]

Father Hartley left in October 2006. His work in the Dominican Republic was subject of a campaign of denunciation, alleging that he "sought to pitch the Haitian emigrants against the Dominicans in the sugarcane communities where they lived together".[citation needed] Members of the House of Representatives of the Dominican Republic passed "a resolution denouncing Hartley and [Father Pedro] Ruquoy".[2] in 2007, and in 2009, maintained that the film The Price of Sugar was part of "a smear campaign" toward the Dominican Republic.[3]"

According to the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste the law firm Patton Boggs of Washington, D.C., which works for the Vicini family, tried to interfere with the projection of the movie in France. According to the same source the Vicini family hired the public relations firm Newlink Communications of Miami, owned by Sergio Roitberg who specializes in the reputation management, to protect the Vicini business interest in the United States where most Dominican sugar is sold.[4][5]

According to a sworn declaration filed in federal court in connection with the defamation lawsuit over The Price of Sugar by Monsiñor Francisco Ozoria Acosta, Bishop of the diocese in San Pedro de Macorís, after an "incident" resulting in Father Hartley's suspension of duties in late 2006 "and other serious violations, and after consulting with brother bishops, [Bishop Ozoria] decided to dispense with Father Christopher Hartley."[6] Further, Bishop Ozoria stated: "Father Hartley’s departure from the Dominican Republic had nothing to do with the health of his father, who had been ill for some time. Neither was it the result of any pressure whatsoever from the Government of the Dominican Republic, Cardinal López Rodríguez, or the Vicini family for me to make the decision to relieve Father Hartley of his pastoral duties and ask him to leave the San Pedro de Macorís Diocese."[6]

Bishop Ozoria's declaration includes documentary support relating to Father Hartley's departure from the Dominican Republic. Bishop Ozoria never describes the specifics of the "incident," but he does state in a letter to Father Hartley dated September 21, 2006 that Father Hartley's "deplorable" actions (1) affect "'the good of the souls' entrusted to [Bishop Ozoria's] pastoral care," (2) create a "harmful" ministry to the parish and diocese, (3) produce "serious detriment or disturbance to the ecclesiastical community," and (4) harm the level of trust necessary between a bishop and a priest.[6]

Father Hartley submitted a Declaration to a Federal Court in Washington D.C. in which he denied under oath receiving a deposition subpoena.[7] Joe Johns of CNN signed a sworn Declaration contradicting Father Hartley’s Declaration and affirming the testimony of the process server, saying he was with Father Hartley at the time he was served with the subpoena.[8][9] On July 21, 2008, the Court issued an Order establishing that Father Hartley lied under oath and his Declaration did not overcome the word of a process server and Mr. Johns.[10]

Campaigning from exile and alleged conflict of interest[edit]

From Europe, Hartley has continued to campaign for Haitian worker rights in the Dominican Republic; meanwhile he remains vilified in that country, with critics claiming he preaches "a gospel of hate".[11] He also helped draft the Better Sugarcane Initiative which encourages fair trade for sugar. In a letter to the directors of Tate & Lyle dated July 10, 2009, he asserted that human rights violations continue in the Dominican Republic, which include "daily and systematic disregard for fundamental human dignity in the forms of “statelessness” (and its inherent lack of civil liberties), human trafficking, extreme poverty, child labor, racial discrimination, lack of education and healthcare, and general squalor. The laundry list goes on and is further compounded during this harvest season (2008-2009) by new variations, which include: 1) failure to withhold social security (IDSS) contributions, leaving workers without basic benefits; 2) preservation of sub-standard, poverty-level wages; 3) new forms of fraud in the weighing of, and remuneration for, cut cane; 4) resurgence in trafficking of human persons (after a hiatus of approximately three years); 5) deprivation of entitled healthcare benefits; 6) arbitrary terminations and denial of earned benefits; and, 7) refusal to issue written contracts guaranteed under Dominican law." [12]

The Minister of Industry and Commerce of the Dominican Republic suggested in April 2012 that father Hartley’s advocacy against the sugar industry in the Dominican Republic is based on his relation with sugar interests in Europe. Two executives of the London-based, employee-owned food trading company ED&F Man España SA, which trades in sugar among other commodities, are said to be related to Hartley.[13] Rafael Fernando Muguiro Sartorius, the CEO of the company is said to be the cousin of father Hartley, and William Alexander Hartley Sartorius, a member of the board of the same company, is said to be his brother.[14]

See also[edit]

Films:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Haitiwebs.com accessed on January 17, 2010
  2. ^ DR1, "France distances itself from anti-DR campaign" 18 May 2007
  3. ^ Union Nacional de Azucareros, "Dominican Republic Senators Call on Catholic Church to Rein in Father Hartley’s Discredit Campaign", September 30, 2009
  4. ^ "Haiti-Dominican Republic: Film on Plantations Spurs Backlash by Michael Deibert". IPS. 2007-06-04. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  5. ^ "Esclavos en el Paraíso". Le Nouvelliste. 2007-06-13. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  6. ^ a b c "Declaration by Bishop Francisco Ozoria Acosta". US District Court, District of Massachusetts. 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  7. ^ "Declaration by Father Christopher Hartley". US District Court, District for the District of Columbia. 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  8. ^ "Declaration by Joe Johns". US District Court, District for the District of Columbia. 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  9. ^ "Affidavit by Scott Kucik, process server". US District Court, District for the District of Columbia. 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  10. ^ "Judge Leon Order". US District Court, District for the District of Columbia. 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  11. ^ Reuters, "Different Sectors Have Reacted With Outrage to the International Discredit Campaign of Father Hartley", Sept 11 2009)
  12. ^ Christopher Hartley, Letter to Tate & Lyle, July 10, 2009
  13. ^ García defiende las condiciones de los ingenios
  14. ^ -E D F Man España SA

External links[edit]