Thomas Clarkson was the father of the abolitionism movement in XIX century England and pioneered effective lobby campaigns (rallying MPs and trade union organizations) and grassroots mobilization (promoting the first sugar boycott). All of this contributed to the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which ended all British trade of slaves. He devoted the last years of his life to campaigning for a universal ban on slavery.
Fray Antonio de Montesinos was a Dominican friar in la Hispaniola (currently the Dominican Republic and Haiti) who, after witnessing the injustices and abuses the indigenous people were suffering at the hands of the big landowners, preached a sermon denouncing and criticizing human rights abuses. In the sermon, he declared that the indigenous islanders were inhabitants of the “antechamber of hell” given the “the cruelty and tyranny” they were subjected to. The sermon outraged the establishment and Fray Antonio was expelled and sent back to Spain.
A very similar situation, sermon, and aftermath took place centuries later when the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, visited the Bateyes and Father Christopher Hartley publicly criticized the terrible plights of the sugar cane workers!
Click here to read Father Christopher Hartley’s speech.
Taking our inspiration from these two men, the Clarkson-Montesinos Institute is currently carrying out a comprehensive campaign amongst consumers, Governmental agencies, multilateral organizations, and key stakeholders in the sugar trade to raise awareness, denounce abuses, and to promote and foster a sustainable and fair sugar cane industry.