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Haitians in Dominican Republic sugar plantations live anonymous lives

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Wuilne Novi Michell, 22, a sugar cane worker, stands in a room in a batey on March 1. Like thousands of other youths who were born to Haitian parents inside the Dominican Republic, Wuilne has no personal identification or Dominican citizenship. Without identification a person in the Dominican Republic lives a marginal life without full employment, a bank account, or a mobile phone.

A batey is the name given those communities that reside inside sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic that are comprised mainly of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Living and working conditions inside the bateys are often extremely impoverished, with limited access to health care, running water, electricity and sanitary facilities.

For decades Haitians have been fleeing the turmoil of their country to come and work as seasonal workers in the sugar cane industry in the Dominican Republic, with many staying on permanently in the country. The Dominican government refuses to grant children born to Haitian parents citizenship or give them Dominican identification.  

It is estimated that somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Haitians are currently living Dominican Republic. Due to a climate of discrimination based on ethnic origins and a fear of a Haitian influx, the Dominican government has adopted policies that make it difficult to impossible for many Haitians to live a normal life in the country.  

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Homes in a batey in San Pedro, Dominican Republic. A batey is the name given to communities that reside inside of sugar plantations that are comprised mainly of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent.

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A Haitian woman relaxes in a tree on a sugar cane batey on March 1 in San Pedro, Dominican Republic.

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A Haitian family stands near their home on a sugar cane batey on March 1 in San Pedro, Dominican Republic.

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A Haitian sugar cane worker cuts cane in a field beside a batey on March 1.

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Kesnel Nene Pie, 18, a sugar cane worker, stands with his mother Louisa Fernandez in a room in a batey in San Pedro, Dominican Republic.