How to get a divorce with photography and music! Year in photos 2009 plus Halloween.
I found this amazing video on my son’s Facebook page. This video represents my last year in Boca and then moving here to Jensen Beach in the Treasure Coast. All these amazing faces somehow because a part of what I called “My other life.” My other life became my life. An amazing life.
The Music at the beginning is by a Band called “After the Fall.” The second and third are sung by my friend “Big Vince and the Phat Cats.” I met these guys during this time and their friendship and music became a large part of my award winning documentary “The Garbage of Jupiter Beach.”
At the time i really had no idea I would be putting together a photo essay on all the thing I practice. Manifesting. Gratefulness.
Joy. Things I love. Music. Photography.
Starts off with John Carey at the Old Back Room in Boca Raton. A trip to Colorado to see my Mom who was alive at the time. A trip to Miami with Jody and Tommy for dinner with Bill Aucoin. The stories I heard were incredible. He died shortly after that so I’m glad I got to meet him.
Meeting our friend TC Ridge with Jody who was putting together his band “South of Georgia.
My Mac and Casey. Now gone. Daniel East drumming for Iki IKo and one of my favorite “drum faces” Ren Fest in Boca. The first one I ever went to and I just loved taking photos there. My first Rock and Pop Masters. The Reel Women’s FIlm Fest with MaryAnn and her niece, being honored at WPBT 2 in Miami. At the time I was creating little video stories. (I guess I still am creating little video stories but this time I was honored for doing so.)
A trip to St Pete and getting to see Julie Black and go to a drum circle. A trip to Melbourne and meeting the War Dog People. Then a trip to Weston with Larry and Tom. The Delray Beach Film Fest was such a blast that year. Yes that’s Gianmarco.
A photo shoot at a vet’s office and that’s how I met “The Faders” who were just beginning to put “The Phat Cats” together. Carissa came to town and then a life changing trip to Guatemala. Photo shoot with my drum teacher famed Joey Zeytoonian and his fabulous wife Miriam and her dances and students. Trying to find my groove. MAMM shoot in Miami with Victor Hugo Vaca and Rodrigo Millar Feliú. Shooting my friends up in Jupiter at various local Jams that were put together by Gary Frost. Albert Castiglia. (need I say more) Creating my own award winning documentary “The Garbage of Jupiter Beach.” Meeting one of my good friends Tiki Steve. Then going to DC to shoot at NIH (My second time at the mother ship).
My first halloween in Jensen Beach with Penny at Crawdaddys. My first Pineapple festival which is the weekend of my birthday. Meeting Stephen and Michelle and Geoff. Discovering the The Nouveaux Honkies. Wow what a year.
That folks is what you do when your going through a divorce.
Here are a few fun Halloween photos from this year.
Da Dogz Blogz ( Don’t tell the cat. She’ll want her own)
by Barney (Barnacles Lenz I)
Hello. DIs is Barney and I’m going to be 18 years old on October 23. I am rescue dog. I was very sick when I came here and now I’m fine. I’m old but every day is a wonderful day with my food source and my friend MEME (well mostly unless she kicks me off the bed,)
But I’m not here to talk about myself. I’m here to talk about other rescues. Today I interviewed a old friend of my food source. Her name is Bobbi Miller. She started Chesed Rescue.
This is what she said:
“Chesed Rescue started because there were no groups at the time to help with the overflow from county shelters and humane societies only wanted healthy young dogs. A few rescues existed but I didn’t like their policies. They either skimped on vetting the pets or didn’t screen the adopters thoroughly. Most would adopt on site without too much interviewing. Chesed started to make a new standard on how vetting and adopting unwanted pets would be handled. Chesed is a Hebrew word that loosely translates to compassion, but literally means taking care of someone that can never pay you back. So your motives are pure and not expecting a return.
This year we took a heart worm positive pit bull that had mammary cancer and skin issues. She had clearly been overbred, staked outside and neglected. Her pictures tell the story from many months of boarding and medical intervention to the best home imaginable with Melissa Wu and her dog Tulip, a blind diabetic pit.”
Dis is a wonderful story of a rescue dog and a wonderful rescue and a wonderful new rescue mom!
So if you need a dog or cat you should call Bobbi!
People ask me why I fight so hard for our life here in Martin County. It’s because we are different. Yes, there has been some changes since I moved here and there are some things coming I’m not ok with but for the most part the people who live here really care about our county and our way of life.
This is one of the first places I visited when I moved here.
The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is the only remaining House of Refuge. It was built as one of ten along the east coast of Florida, it is the oldest structure in Martin County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Houses of Refuge were designated as havens for shipwrecked sailors and travelers along the sparsely populated Atlantic coastline of Florida. Run by the United States Lifesaving Service, the Houses played a critical role in a time when sailing ships dominated the world commerce.
This week we have big waves and big tides. We had the full blood moon and we have Hurricane Joaquin out there.
Yesterday was the first gorgeous day after a long, hot summer so I went down and took some photos.
The House of Refuge is located at 301 Southeast MacArthur Blvd, Stuart, FL
Before they had harvesting machines every year people 10,000 Caribbean men were selectivity chosen by American sugar corporations to harvest sugar cane for six months in Florida under temporary “H2” visas.
They came from Jamaica in the middle of the night and put in barracks in Belle Glade.
“If we didn’t have the Jamaicans it wouldn’t get harvested because the local people wouldn’t do it.” One of the sugar field managers said. They were essential jailed. Brought from the barrack to the bus to the field to bus to the barrack and not being allowed to leave.
They got paid one dollar and few cents pr hour.
This was released in 1990.
Even before the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Who used to hang out in Indiantown) sent workers from their Islands in the Bahamas.
“H-2 Worker is a controversial expose of the travesty of justice that takes place around the shores of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee—a situation which, until the film’s release, has been one of America’s best-kept secrets. There, for six months a year, over 10,000 men from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands perform the brutal task of cutting sugar cane by hand-a job so dangerous and low-paying that Americans refuse to do it.
H-2 Worker is the first documentary to tell the story of these men—named for their special temporary guestwork “H-2” visas. They live and work in conditions reminiscent of the days of slavery on sugar plantations: housed in overcrowded barracks, poorly fed, denied adequate treatment for their frequent on-the-job injuries, paid less than minimum wage, and deported if they do not do exactly as they are told.
The sugar plantations who employ the H-2 workers sustain this exploitation—and their own profits—with the help of the U.S. government, which authorizes the importation of Third World workers while it blocks the importation of cheaper Third World sugar through a system of quotas and price supports, citing “national security” as the reason for its costly subsidizing of a domestic sugar industry. The scandal of the H-2 program has existed for over 45 years. It began in 1942, when the U.S. Sugar Cane Corporation was indicted for conspiracy to enslave black American workers. In 1943 the first West Indian cane cutters were brought in. This scandal has largely been kept out of the public eye, and the sugar companies and their government supporters have escaped accountability. On the contrary, a new immigration law has paved the way for a rapid expansion of the H-2 program.
Directed by: Stephanie Black
Produced by: Stephanie Black
Running Time: 70 min
Grand Jury Prize Best Documentary – Sundance Film Festival (1990)
Best Cinematography, Sundance Film Festival (1990)
“‘H-2 Worker’ is that rare hybrid that succeeds as both film and advocacy. The documentary’s look and form is smooth and sophisticated … [and] it solidly frames issues about the economy, employment and the treatment of workers who seem just steps away from slavery.” —The New York Times
With admirable fluency, Black combines straightforward information and analysis with more evocative glimpses of the workers’ lives …. Black and her collaborators have an unsentimental conviction that these workers are fully human, that they experience not just anger and suffering but also love and pleasure – and even hope.”—The Nation”
Today when you go to Belle Glade you drive past the same buildings that were in this film.
The cane harvesters were brought in to perform the autumn harvest of sugar cane under the H-2A Visa program. The Jamaicans replaced earlier generations of Bahamian seasonal workers who in turn replaced migrant labor recruited from the Cotton Belt (region) in the first half of the 20th century. A documentary short that accompanies the DVD version of the film states that human labor was abandoned for mechanical harvesters in 1992.
I think it’s important for “us” ( and you know who I’m referring to) to watch this so we never get soft against the people who created these human rights abuses for corporate profit. Not only do they treat people like slaves they collect corporate welfare.
( Are we calling them corporate entitlements yet?)
It’s also important for those of you that think all these people are coming and taking your jobs away. The reason they have, yes I said have this program is to to the work no one else would do. Interesting enough when I worked in Boca in the hospital we got nurses from England and from the Philippines and there were plenty of nurses around to do the job. It’s been here since the 40’s. So even at your work you may have H2 workers or even the hospital you go to when your ill.
H-2A Temporary Agricultural WorkersThe H-2A program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. A U.S. employer,a U.S. agent as described in the regulations,or an association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on a prospective worker’s behalf.
Who May Qualify for H-2A Classification?
To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must:
Offer a job that is of a temporary or seasonal nature.
Demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
Show that the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
Generally, submit with the H-2A petition, a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. (A limited exception to this requirement exists in certain “emergent circumstances.” See e.g., 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(x) for specific details.)
H-2A Program Process
Step 1: Petitioner submits temporary labor certification application to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Prior to requesting H-2A classification from USCIS, the petitioner must apply for and receive a temporary labor certification for H-2A workers with DOL. For further information regarding the temporary labor certification requirements and process, see the Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor page.
Step 2: Petitioner submits Form I-129 to USCIS. After receiving a temporary labor certification for H-2A employment from DOL, the employer should file Form I-129 with USCIS. With limited exceptions, the original temporary labor certification must be submitted as initial evidence with Form I-129. (See the instructions to Form I-129 for additional filing requirements.)
Step 3: Prospective workers outside the United States apply for visa and/or admission. After USCIS approves Form I-129, prospective H-2A workers who are outside the United States must:
Apply for an H-2A visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, then seek admission to the United States with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry; or
Directly seek admission to the United States in H-2A classification with CBP at a U.S. port of entry, if a worker does not require a visa.
“H-2 Worker is the first documentary to tell the story of these men – named for their special temporary guestwork “H-2” visas. They live and work in conditions reminiscent of the days of slavery on sugar plantations: housed in overcrowded barracks, poorly fed, denied adequate treatment for their frequent on-the-job injuries, paid less than minimum wage, and deported if they do not do exactly as they are told.
The sugar plantations who employ the H-2 workers sustain this exploitation – and their own profits – with the help of the U.S. government, which authorizes the importation of Third World workers while it blocks the importation of cheaper Third World sugar through a system of quotas and price supports, citing “national security” as the reason for its costly subsidizing of a domestic sugar industry.
The scandal of the H-2 program has existed for over 45 years. It began in 1942, when the U.S. Sugar Cane Corporation was indicted for conspiracy to enslave black American workers. In 1943 the first West Indian cane cutters were brought in. This scandal has largely been kept out of the public eye, and the sugar companies and their government supporters have escaped accountability. On the contrary, a new immigration law has paved the way for a rapid expansion of the H-2 program to other agricultural industries.
H-2 Worker was shot clandestinely in the cane fields and workers’ barracks around Belle Glade, Florida. It contains footage shot in places where no media has been successful in filming before, and where the filmmakers were denied permission to enter by the sugar corporations and the local police.
H-2 Worker focuses on the lives of the workers themselves – travelling with them to the fields, where they endure long hours of monotonous labor; to their isolated barracks; to the town where they shop for American goods to bring home to their families. Following them through one six-month season, it tell their stories: Like migrant workers worldwide, these men are driven by soaring unemployment in their home countries and promises of high wages abroad. Dreaming of American opportunities to build better lives for their families, they arrive in the U.S. with high hopes – only to confront the harsh realities of the Florida cane fields.
Providing an in-depth analysis, H-2 Worker includes voices from all sides of the issue: representatives of the sugar companies and the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as U.S.l congressmen and Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley. An historical analysis combine archival footage with the testimony of 80-year-old Samuel Manston, who escaped the cane fields at the time of the peonage indictments in 1942.
But the voices of the workers themselves are foremost: They are heard through extensive interviews, and through their recordings of actual letters to and from their families in Jamaica. These voices tell an eloquent story which rings with painful truth, and will not easily be forgotten. H-2 Worker is both a compelling expose of institutionalized injustice, and a moving record of human endurance.
H-2 Worker, a 70-minute, 16 mm, color documentary made over the course of 3 1/2 years, combines the talents of director/producer Stephanie Black, award-winning editor John Mullen and cinematographer Maryse Alberti. It is a film with powerful impact and resonance, certain to be both compelling and controversial.
“‘H-2 Worker’ is that rare hybrid that succeeds as both film and advocacy. The documentary’s look and form is smooth and sophisticated … [and] it solidly frames issues about the economy, employment, and the treatment of workers who seem just steps away from slavery.” -The New York Times
“‘H-2 Worker’ is a revealing look at these men and the treatment they receive on our shores … [Stephanie Black] manages to capture the scope as well as the intensity of the problem. -New York Newsday
“With admirable fluency, Black combines straightforward information and analysis with more evocative glimpses of the workers’ lives …. Black and her collaborators have an unsentimental conviction that these workers are fully human, that they experience not just anger and suffering but also love and pleasure – and even hope.” -The Nation”
According to the update 1992, a class action suit found five sugar cane companies guilty of cheating more than 10,000 cane cutters of their contractually guaranteed minimum wage during the two seasons documented in the film.
51,000.000 in back pay was awarded.
Then the decision was revered by the Florida Appellate court finding that the H-2 contract was “ambiguous.”
Sugar cane is being harvested mechanically however the number of H-2 workers has substantially increased.
North Carolina: 10,000 workers
Colorado 2,000 workers
Maryland 9,622 (crab houses, fire work, hotel work)
Most of the workers come from Mexico.
In March 2008, over 100 guest workers from India, walked off their H-2B jobs at Signal, an oil rig construction company in Louisiana, protesting the company’s unacceptable living and working conditions.
These are not illegals. These are people that come here legally.
In the country where the people are coming from there are labor brokers that sell assess to the people from all these countries. In India that access was sold for 20,000 dollars.
People come here and they are not paid what they are told plus they had to pay the recruiters.
Over 2,100 H-2 shepherds from Peru, Chile, Mexico and Nepal work for American Ranchers. They are expected to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a minim monthly wage of less that 1,000.
“That visa is also not valid for nurses and is grounds to get one deported from the US. We see it being advertised in the Philippines but it makes one subject to immigration fraud. It is for untrained workers for a very specific length of time, and nurses do not meet those requirements from the start. We see this being used for the LPN, and there are no legal visas for them to enter the US and work here.
Please forward a copy of any of the garbage that you see offering this, and that is exactly what it is, to the US Embassy there in Manila. You would be sold as a slave to the highest bidder
They would also have you giving false information to the US Embassy officials and this is grounds for deportation for up to ten years after a stay in immigration detention before you are deported. You would be placed in a nursing home to work and they are undergoing frequent raids exactly for this.
Save yourself from having nightmares about being picked up by ICE.”
Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress — a negative stress reaction. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.
How does stress affect the immune system?
Stress can make up ill as it affects out immune system.
“For stress of any significant duration – from a few days to a few months or years, as happens in real life – all aspects of immunity went downhill. Thus long-term or chronic stress, through too much wear and tear, can ravage the immune system.
The meta-analysis also revealed that people who are older or already sick are more prone to stress-related immune changes. For example, a 2002 study by Lyanne McGuire, PhD, of John Hopkins School of Medicine with Kiecolt-Glaser and Glaser reported that even chronic, sub-clinical mild depression may suppress an older person’s immune system. Participants in the study were in their early 70s and caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Those with chronic mild depression had weaker lymphocyte-T cell responses to two mitogens, which model how the body responds to viruses and bacteria. The immune response was down even 18 months later, and immunity declined with age. In line with the 2004 meta-analysis, it appeared that the key immune factor was duration, not severity, of depression. And in the case of the older caregivers, their depression and age meant a double-whammy for immunity.
Emerging evidence is tracing the pathways of the mind-body interaction. For example, as seen with the college students, chronic feelings of loneliness can help to predict health status — perhaps because lonely people have more psychological stress or experience it more intensely and that stress in turn tamps down immunity. It’s also no surprise that depression hurts immunity; it’s also linked to other physical problems such as heart disease. At the same time, depression may both reflect a lack of social support and/or cause someone to withdraw from social ties. Both can be stressful and hurt the body’s ability to fight infection.
Managing stress, especially chronic or long-term stress (even if it’s not intense), may help people to fight germs. When burdened with long-term stressors, such as caring for an elderly parent or spouse with dementia, health can benefit from conscientious stress management.
Finally, the newest findings on social stress underscore the value of good friends; even just a few close friends can help someone feel connected and stay strong. Social ties may indirectly strengthen immunity because friends – at least health-minded friends — can encourage good health behaviors such as eating, sleeping and exercising well. Good friends also help to buffer the stress of negative events.”
Preventing and dealing with caregiver stress.
I first want to clarify what I mean when I say “caregiver.” I’m talking about the main person who is doing the hands on care. The wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son or other people who is the number one person caring for someone.
Lot’s of people interface with caregivers. We do as nurses. You do as friends, family and neighbors. We get to go to the house, spend an hour, do our assessment, say what we think and then leave the person behind to deal with this on their own.
My general attitude is everyone is different, every one has different coping skills and styles. It’s our job as nurses, friends, families and neighbors to be accepting and to be helpful. Everyone copes with this differently but the needs still remains the same.
The one point I always try to make is this: This will end and at the end of the day when you have to make peace with yourself and move on in your life will you being to look back and say “I did everything I could and I am at peace.” I think the best way to get to that place is not getting burnt out.
The most important thing that a caregiver can do for themselves is to make sure they leave time for themselves and do something, even if its the littlest thing, every day. Being a martyr is a sure road to burnout and feeling like your stuck in a situation.
I know it hard. Sometimes there is no one around to relieve you and you feel like this is on your shoulders. Some places have great resources and some places have next to none.
In this day and age unless you can afford it there’s not a lot of help out there and if there is the older person living by themselves they get addressed first before the person with a caregiver. (Unless the person is under Hospice)
I thought instead of just googling I’d ask my friends first what they thought. So here goes. Some of these folks are in the medical field and some are or have been the main caregivers for a family member.
This is what they had to say:
Carol said “Get help!”
I know that’s a tall order sometimes. Many people can’t afford help. The first thing you should do is call your Elder Hotline. Our number around here is 866-684-5884. There is a process and it takes a while to this so don’t wait until you need something. Do it now so by the time you need it the information is there.
Call the local chapter of the appropriate disease and see if someone can come out and talk to you about the disease and what is available to you. Often they have respite set up and know everyone who is available.
Call your church or temple and ask if there is anyone available to help. Many times they will mention this at services and people will volunteer.
Lisa Ray said
“#1 Take care of yourself first and foremost … it may sound selfish but it is not. If you are not emotionally and physically healthy then you can’t help the other person. #2 Ask or pay for help. Don’t turn away help … accept the gift. You are not the only one that can care for your loved one. Let other family members become involved in the care. Or pay someone to help. #3 Don’t take the mean things they say and do personally. They are sick and realize they have lost much of their independence, this is an expression of that frustration #4 Join a support group… you will learn things from others & help others with your experiences. #5 This also goes along with #2 Get out of the house and have fun, stay in contact with your friends, don’t become isolated.”
“For sure don’t become isolated. I broke free finally in June and took a long weekend to myself and went to Missouri and met up with some other ladies. It didn’t go over well but he survived it. Never had been away without him. I never let him play that card. He tries often but when there is something he wants to do he finds a way. Take time for yourself and do whatever it is you love to do. Meet up with friends, take that trip and take care of yourself. And try not to stress (easier said than done) about that next scan or blood test. It is what it will be and I can’t change that.”
“Take time for yourself. While helping with my father’s cancer and death I would get their local paper (very small town) and circle garage and estate sales. Then I would steal away for a few hours every Friday to treasure hunt. Try to keep some of your own little routines and hobbies going during this time. It was fun to share my finds and create memories with my parents while giving me something else to focus on.”
“You must have someone to come in to give the caretaker a break from the emotional roller coaster”
Eileen said: Have a network of friends or support group to support you the caregiver.
“Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.”
Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring
Emotional and physical exhaustion
What Causes Caregiver Burnout?
Caregivers often are so busy caring for others that they tend to neglect their own emotional, physical, and spiritual health. The demands on a caregiver’s body, mind, and emotions can easily seem overwhelming, leading to fatigue and hopelessness — and, ultimately, burnout. Other factors that can lead to caregiver burnout include:
Role confusion: Many people are confused when thrust into the role of caregiver. It can be difficult for a person to separate her role as caregiver from her role as spouse, lover, child, friend, etc.
Unrealistic expectations: Many caregivers expect their involvement to have a positive effect on the health and happiness of their loved one. This may not always be realistic.
Lack of control: Many caregivers become frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively plan, manage, and organize their loved one’s care.
Unreasonable demands: Some caregivers place unreasonable burdens upon themselves, in part because they see providing care as their exclusive responsibility.
Other factors: Many caregivers cannot recognize when they are suffering burnout and eventually get to the point where they cannot function effectively. They may even become sick themselves.
I’ve heard many people say to me “She was the mother and I was the child now i’m the mother and she is the child.’ It may feel that way but it not. Your still the child taking care of your mother.
More Ways to Prevent Burnout.
Find someone to talk to. There is always someone to talk to and sometimes just saying things out loud can make you feel better. If you have a computer there are many Facebook groups that you can join and speaks to others. In this day and age if you join a local support group online you can also benefit from the other member’s knowledge of resources.
What if instead of draining away about 2 billion gallons of water a day, there were better ways to put that water to use?
“nearly 200 billion gallons of Lake Okeechobee water was drained to the east and west coasts to ease the strain on the erosion-prone dike that protects South Florida from flooding.”
“*SEVEN MONTHS OF DRINKING WATER: The amount of Lake Okeechobee water drained east and west and out to sea was enough to supply about seven months of drinking water for the nearly seven million people in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. Water plants in southeast Florida churn out about 840 million gallons of drinking water a day.
*NEARLY 40 PERCENT OF EVERGLADES’ WATER NEEDS: Everglades advocates have called for moving almost 500 billion gallons of Lake Okeechobee water south each year to help replenish Florida’s struggling River of Grass. The volume of lake water drained east and west for flood control between January and June equated to almost 40 percent of that Everglades restoration goal.”
What can I say. I have posted hundreds of hours of video of people pleading to save our water.
This is recent letter to the Miami Herald from Maggy Hurchella.
On the website on SFWMD they have loads of information about water conservation and have been on the news multiple time even having the nerve to tell us to conserve ( I don’t have an issue conserving but I do have an issue with them not conserving. Not just not conserving. Just totally wasting millions and millions of gallons of water send out to tide and destroying our estuary.
Then this happened and i knew the world was just turned upside down.
“But Rodney Barreto thinks Scott has been a tree-hugging warrior for Mother Gaia. The Miami developer, who also chairs the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, announced via email this week that at the BlueGreen gala this fall, he’ll honor Scott for his conservation work.
“Governor Scott has been instrumental in helping develop a strong connection between fish and wildlife conservation and traditional outdoors activities like hunting and especially fishing,” Barreto says in a release.
Local environmentalists are aghast at the news. “It’s laughable,” Alan Farago, president of Friends of the Everglades, tells New Times. “In terms of the environment, I think he’s the worst governor in modern Florida history.”
Aghast doesn’t even cover it.”
Fishing. Yes I dare you Rick Scott to come swimming in the Indian River Lagoon.
What to do with a governor hunkered down in his coastal multi-million dollar estate from which he doesn’t emerge, except to his private jet clutching talking points? Give him an environmental award! Cheer up his mysterious spirits, unknowable except to special interests and cronies.”
Accursio, 52, whose family owns and farms 2,000 acres in South Miami-Dade County, has been among farmers bitterly complaining about Everglades restoration efforts flooding fields and causing crop losses in the region.
“Deforestation in upper river basins has caused environmental problems, including soil erosion and declining water quality. An innovative project to try and remedy this situation involves landholders in upstream areas being paid by downstream water users to conserve forests. The landholders receive $20 to conserve the trees, avoid polluting livestock practices, and enhance the biodiversity and forest carbon on their land. They receive $30, which purchases a beehive, to compensate for conservation for two hectares of water-sustaining forest for five years. Honey revenue per hectare of forest is $5 per year, so within five years, the landholder has sold $50 of honey. The project is being conducted by Fundación Natura Bolivia and Rare Conservation, with support from the Climate & Development Knowledge Network.”
“The law defines Mother Earth as “…the dynamic living system formed by the indivisible community of all life systems and living beings whom are interrelated, interdependent, and complementary, which share a common destiny; adding that “Mother Earth is considered sacred in the worldview of Indigenous peoples and nations.
In this approach human beings and their communities are considered a part of mother earth, by being integrated in “Life systems” defined as “…complex and dynamic communities of plants, animals, micro-organisms and other beings in their environment, in which human communities and the rest of nature interact as a functional unit, under the influence of climatic, physiographic and geologic factors, as well as the productive practices and cultural diversity of Bolivians of both genders, and the world views of Indigenous nations and peoples, intercultural communities and the Afro-Bolivians. This definition can be seen as a more inclusive definition of ecosystems because it explicitly includes the social, cultural and economic dimensions of human communities.
The law also establishes the juridical character of Mother Earth as “collective subject of public interest“, to ensure the exercise and protection of her rights. By giving Mother Earth a legal personality, it can, through its representatives (humans), bring an action to defend its rights. Additionally, to say that Mother Earth is of public interest represents a major shift from an anthropocentric perspective to a more Earth community based perspective.”
I love this! We will see below that corporations think they are people. But in Bolivia Mother Nature has rights!
“2000, California based Bechtel Corporation took over control of all water systems in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third largest city. At first, many thought the move would be one that was beneficial to Bolivia. To bring that type of business into such financially crippled country was considered to be a savvy win-win move. Bolivia water privatization was welcomed.”
On April 17, Bechtel received one of the first and largest of the rebuilding contracts in Iraq. Worth $680 million over 18 months, the contract includes the rebuilding, repair and/or assessment of virtually every significant element of Iraq’s infrastructure, from power generation facilities to electrical grids to the municipal water and sewage systems. The contract was granted in backroom deals without open and transparent bidding processes and the content remains hidden behind a veil of secrecy. The contract has not been publicly disclosed to American taxpayers, who will be paying the majority of the bill. While there is no doubt that Bechtel has experience in these areas, it is an experience from which the people of Iraq should be spared.
War profiteering and political cronyism is just part of this story.”
Bechtel’s “Mini” Masquerade“Though Bechtel is the world’s largest telecommunications, engineering and construction firm (with $32.9 billion in revenue and 52,700 employees), in terms of corporate structure it is one of America’s largest “small businesses.” That’s because the giant corporation takes advantage of a 1958 law intended to extend limited liability protection to owners of small, family-owned businesses. Companies that qualify for this law’s “S Corporation” status do not have to pay federal corporate income taxes. Instead the company’s profits are reported as personal income by individual owners. While the Bechtel empire was hardly the intended beneficiary, their firm technically qualifies for the S Corporation status because it is family run and has less than 100 shareholders.
At the time the law was enacted, the wide differential between top corporate tax rates (52 percent) and top individual rates (91 percent) was a disincentive for gaming the system to dodge taxes. Fast forward half a century and top tax rates have collapsed to only 35 percent for corporations and individuals, erasing the previous disincentive for big corporations to change their business status. By incorporating as an S Corporation, enormous businesses like Bechtel pay just individual taxes, rather than having their corporation pay taxes on corporate profits and shareholders pay taxes on their dividends.
S Corporations, and other businesses where income is taxed only at the individual level, have become the new tax haven, where large businesses have fled to avoid US corporate income taxes. In 2008, more than 14,000 S Corporation tax returns were filed by firms with more than $50 million in revenue, according to the IRS. These 14,000 firms, with an average profit of $6.4 million each, collectively reported 29 percent of the total profit on nearly 4 million S Corporation tax returns. Preserving S Corporation status for real small businesses can help level the playing field, but closing the loophole that allows giant multinational corporations to avoid the corporate taxes that their peers have to pay is key to bringing more fairness to the tax code and more funds into public coffers.
As the 99% Spring unfolds, restoring fairness to our tax code must be at the center of the debate. As it stands, our tax system rewards those at the top, robbing the rest of us of the public money we need to transform the economy from one that works for the 1 percent to one that works for the 100 percent.A note on the chart. Corporate tax rates were calculated using current federal corporate income taxes paid in 2011 divided by 2011 US pretax income, as reported in company 10-K annual reported filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Deferred taxes, which might be paid some day in the future, were excluded, as were income taxes paid to state or local governments. Individual tax rates were taken from a recent Citizens for Tax Justice report.”
Remind you of anyone you know?
Many Cochabambans objected to the rates that Bechtel imposed on its customer. Their water bills tripled and quadrupled. Half their monthly income went to water. To fuel the fire, Bechtel was granted control to seize homes of delinquent customer when ownership arrangements were defined. Large groups of enraged Cochabamban residents took to the streets and began the protest against Bechtel.
Agricultural runoff is one of the main contributors to water pollution in Bolivia, together with domestic municipal wastewater and dumping by industries and mines. The greatest percentage of the pollution load is due to diffuse dumping from agricultural and fishing activities and runoffs of urban areas. There are no regulations or controls over major dumping from non-specific sources, despite its volume and toxicity.
“Unable to survive under these conditions, the citizens
demanded that the water contract be terminated. After
suffering civil rights abuses, injuries and even death at the
hands of the police and military, the protesters were heard
In 2001, Bechtel filed suit against the Bolivian government, citing damages of more for $25 million. Bechtel argues that its contract was only to administer the water system, which suffered from terrible internal corruption and poor service, and that the local government raised water prices. The continuing legal battle attracted attention from anti-globalization and anti-capitalist groups. This topic is explored in the 2003 documentary film The Corporation and on Bechtel’s website. In January 2006, Bechtel and the other international partners settled the lawsuit against the Bolivian government for a reported $0.30 (thirty cents) after intense protests and a ruling on jurisdiction favorable to Bechtel by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.
“Despite political strides after the “Water Wars,” much of Bolivia still suffers from limited access to water and from poor sanitation. Currently, access to water in rural areas is only 71 percent, while sanitation coverage is often as low as 10 percent.  This continuing water scarcity is a humanitarian and a human rights issue that must be addressed from a public policy perspective. Nongovernmental organizations such as Water for People have developed local initiatives with area governments to increase access to clean water in rural parts of the country, but the impetus for change must come from the central government in order to create sustainable policies. To be effective, these policies must incorporate the citizen participation that drastically altered Bolivian politics after its transformative “Water Wars.”
Past social demonstrations in Cochabamba still demand domestic and international attention and should inspire natural resource policy internationally. As stated by David Solnit of Upside Down World, “Bolivian social movements catalyzed by [the “Water Wars”] are, perhaps, the most radical and visionary in the world with their mass participatory, democratic and horizontal way of organizing and mobilizing, drawing on the communitarian roots of the majority indigenous country.”  While the movement’s previous successes are certainly praiseworthy, the issues it addressed are not fully resolved. The strong collective spirit that mobilized these protest victories is deeply established in much of the country, and it must be respected as a force for national change. The intersection of civilian activism and governmental policy can finally produce the reforms necessary to confirm water as a human right.”
“Researchers from the University of Oklahoma have discovered a technique to remove pollutants from water that requires minimal labor costs and is powered by nature itself. After 15 years of testing, research has shown this passive water treatment method to be successful in as diverse geography as the flatlands of Oklahoma and the mountains of Bolivia.
The passive water treatment system is created by engineering an ecosystem consisting of a series of filtering ponds. As the water moves through each specifically designed pond, a natural chemical or biological process removes certain contaminants as it slowly moves from one cell into the other before being re-released into natural waterways.
“When the water reaches the last pond, it has gone from looking like orange, sediment-laden sludge to clear water,” said Robert Nairn, associate director for OU’s Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center and director of the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds.
Here is the trailer to the corporation:
Here is the full movie The Corporation. Please watch and make a donation to these incredible filmmakers.
In economics, an externality is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.
For example, manufacturing activities that cause air pollution impose health and clean-up costs on the whole society, whereas the neighbors of an individual who chooses to fire-proof his home may benefit from a reduced risk of a fire spreading to their own houses. If external costs exist, such as pollution, the producer may choose to produce more of the product than would be produced if the producer were required to pay all associated environmental costs. Because responsibility or consequence for self-directed action lies partly outside the self, an element of externalization is involved. If there are external benefits, such as in public safety, less of the good may be produced than would be the case if the producer were to receive payment for the external benefits to others. For the purpose of these statements, overall cost and benefit to society is defined as the sum of the imputed monetary value of benefits and costs to all parties involved. Thus, unregulated markets in goods or services with significant externalities generate prices that do not reflect the full social cost or benefit of their transactions; such markets are therefore inefficient.
So all kinds of fun stuff today. Mother Earth has rights, we have a cool doc to watch and we learned all about Bolivia!
To my Bolivian Readers: I loved learning about Bolivia today and I hope there is more you can share with me!
I think one thing is important. We need to stop reacting. We need to be proactive. In order to do this we need to be educated. In order to understand the future we need to understand the past. The week I want to talk about the privatization of water. I want you guys to help me. ALL OF YOU GUYS! You! Bolivia guy speak up! If people do not want to speak up here please feel free to send me an email at email@example.com. I’m psych nurse. I’m a secret keeper. So your info is safe with me.
Also I’d like to put a list together of all the water documentaries and even narratives about water.
Here is an example:
Here is a list of all kinds of documentaries about water from around the world. It’s time to end the cranial rectal inversion.
Broadly speaking, there are two forms of private sector participation in water supply and sanitation. In a full privatization, assets are permanently sold to a private investor. In a public-private partnership, ownership of assets remains public and only certain functions are delegated to a private company for a specific period. Full privatization of water supply and sanitation is an exception today, being limited to England, Chile and some cities in the United States. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are the most common form of private sector participation in water supply and sanitation today.
The three most common forms of PPPs, in the order of increasing responsibilities for the private partner, are:
a management contract, under which the private operator is only responsible for running the system, in exchange for a fee that is to some extent performance-related. Investment is financed and carried out by the public sector. The duration is typically 4–7 years.
a lease contract, under which assets are leased to the private operator who receives a share of revenues. He thus typically bears a higher commercial risk than under a management contract. Investment is fully or mostly financed and carried out by the public sector. The duration is typically 10–15 years.
a mixed-ownership company in which a private investor takes a minority share in a water company with full management responsibility vested in the private partner.
a concession, under which the private operator is responsible for running the entire system. Investment is mostly or fully financed and carried out by the private operator. The duration is typically 20–30 years.
Concessions are the most common form of PPPs in water supply and sanitation. They are followed by leases, also called affermages, that are most commonly used in France and in Francophone West Africa. Management contracts are used in Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Armenia, among others. Mixed-ownership companies are most common in Spain, Colombia and Mexico.
A concession for the construction of a new plant is called a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contract. Under a BOT contract the private operator signs an agreement with a utility that purchases treated water or wastewater treatment services.
Being monopolies, all water utilities – public or private – need to be regulated concerning tariff approvals, service quality, environmental compliance and other aspects. The awareness for the need to regulate typically increases substantially when profit-oriented private operators become involved: Monitoring the performance of both the private and the public partner, applying sanctions in case of non-compliance and dispute resolution become particularly important. The regulatory tasks depend on the form of private sector participation: Under a management contract the monitoring of the achievement of performance standards, on which the remuneration of the private company depends, is typically carried out by an independent consulting firm. Under a concession contract or in the case of an asset sale, tariff regulation through a regulatory agency or the government is a key regulatory function. Water concessions are frequently renegotiated, often resulting in better terms for the private company. For example, negotiations of concessions in Buenos Aires and Manila resulted in investment requirements being reduced, tariffs being increased and tariffs being indexed to the exchange rate to the US dollar. The quality and strength of regulation is an important factor that influences whether water privatization fails or succeeds. The tasks, form and capacity of the public entities charged with regulation vary greatly between countries.
Impact on tariffs
In almost all cases, water tariffs increased in the long run under privatization. In some cases, such as in Buenos Aires and in Manila, tariffs first declined, but then increased above their initial level. In other cases, such as in Cochabamba or in Guyana, tariffs were increased at the time of privatization. In some cases in Sub-Saharan Africa, where much of the investments are funded through development aid, tariffs did not increase over a long period. For example, in real terms tariffs remained stable in Senegal, while in Gabon they declined by 50% in five years (2001–2006) and by 30% in ten years in Côte d’Ivoire (1990 to 2000). These exceptions notwithstanding, tariff increases are the rule over the long term. However, initial tariffs have been well below cost recovery levels in almost all cases, sometimes covering only a fraction of the cost of service provision. Tariff increases would thus have been necessary under public management as well, if the government wanted to reduce subsidies. The magnitude of tariff increases is influenced by the profit margin of private operators, but also to a large extent by the efficiency of utilities in terms of water losses and labor productivity.
Thanks for listening and lets do this. It’s so hard when we are living our own nightmare but if we can see other peoples issues around the world it will help us to be proactive not reactive. You folks from other places. You write me blogs about your water woes and I’ll put them here. Send photos! We are all in this together for clean water!
Very interesting eye-opener. Very well made film that makes the viewer understand that the name Big Sugar is as fitting for describing the business as Big Tobacco is to tobacco. Very similar businesses indeed. It was quite shocking to learn that the industry today probably is worse than tobacco industry, as I am aware of there are no slaves in the present tobacco industry… And shocking to learn that the industry is so heavily subsidized in the USA. It’s funny that what may eventually make people use less sugar is not the corruption, lies and misuse of power that the industry represents, but instead the effect it has on their own health. Who cares about other people, specially the poor?
Story in TIME magazine and CNN explaining the Fanjul Casa de Campo sugar business:
FOR TRAVEL— CASA DE CAMPO, LA ROMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, AERIAL
Sweet deal why are these men smiling? The reason is in your sugar bowl
By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
Occupying a breathtaking spot on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, Casa de Campo is one of the Caribbean’s most storied resorts. It bills itself as “a hedonist’s and sportsman’s dream,” and that’s truth in advertising. The place has 14 swimming pools, a world-class shooting ground, PGA-quality golf courses and $1,000-a-night villas.
A thousand miles to the northwest, in the Florida Everglades, the vista is much different. Chemical runoff from the corporate cultivation of sugar cane imperils vegetation and wildlife. Polluted water spills out of the glades into Florida Bay, forming a slimy, greenish brown stain where fishing once thrived.
Both sites are the by-product of corporate welfare.
In this case the beneficiaries are the Fanjul family of Palm Beach, Fla. The name means nothing to most Americans, but the Fanjuls might be considered the First Family of Corporate Welfare. They own Flo-Sun Inc., one of the nation’s largest producers of raw sugar. As such, they benefit from federal policies that compel American consumers to pay artificially high prices for sugar.
Since the Fanjuls control about one-third of Florida’s sugar-cane production, that means they collect at least $60 million a year in subsidies, according to an analysis of General Accounting Office calculations. It’s the sweetest of deals, and it’s made the family, the proprietors of Casa de Campo, one of America’s richest.
The subsidy has had one other consequence: it has helped create an environmental catastrophe in the Everglades. Depending on whom you talk to, it will cost anywhere from $3 billion to $8 billion to repair the Everglades by building new dikes, rerouting canals and digging new lakes.
Growers are committed to pay up to $240 million over 20 years for the cleanup. Which means the industry that created much of the problem will have to pay only a fraction of the cost to correct it. Government will pay the rest. As for the Fanjuls, a spokesman says they are committed to pay about $4.5 million a year.
How did this disaster happen? With your tax dollars. How will it be fixed? With your tax dollars.
It is not news that sugar is richly subsidized, or that the Fanjuls have profited so handsomely. Even as recently as 1995, when Congress passed legislation to phase out price supports for a cornucopia of agricultural products, raw sugar was spared. Through a combination of loan guarantees and tariffs on imported sugar, domestic farmers like the Fanjuls are shielded from real-world prices. So in the U.S., raw sugar sells for about $22 a pound, more than double the price most of the world pays. The cost to Americans: at least $1.4 billion in the form of higher prices for candy, soda and other sweet things of life. A GAO study, moreover, has estimated that nearly half the subsidy goes to large sugar producers like the Fanjuls.
A spokesman for Flo-Sun, Jorge Dominicis, said the company disagrees with the GAO’s estimate on the profits the Fanjuls and other growers derive from the program.
“That is supposed to imply somehow that our companies receive $60 million in guaranteed profits,” he said, “and that is flat-out not true. Our companies don’t make anywhere near that kind of profit.”
Dominicis, like other proponents of the sugar program, contends that it doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny and is not unlike government protection of other American industries. “If our [sugar policy] is corporate welfare, which I don’t believe it is, then all trade policy is corporate welfare,” he says.
Flo-Sun is run by four Fanjul brothers, Alfonso (“Alfie”), Jose (“Pepe”), Andres and Alexander. Their family dominated Cuba’s sugar industry for decades, and they came to this country with their parents in 1959, after Fidel Castro seized power. The Fanjuls arrived just as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to control the flow of water in the Florida Everglades made large-scale development possible. The total acreage planted in sugar cane there soared–from 50,000 acres in 1960 to more than 420,000 today.
Within that swampy paradise lies yet another subsidy. Each year, according to a 1997 estimate, the Army Corps of Engineers spends $63 million to control water flow in central and south Florida. This enables growers to obtain water when they need it or restrain the flow during heavy rains. Of the $63 million, the Corps estimates $52 million is spent on agriculture, mainly sugar-cane farmers, in the Everglades.
Even with the additional production from the Glades, propped up by price supports, the U.S. can’t produce all the sugar it needs. The Federal Government rations access to the lucrative U.S. market by assigning quotas to 40 sugar-producing nations, most of them developing countries. And, remarkably, the Fanjuls have found riches here too. Every year, the country that receives the largest sugar quota is the Dominican Republic. With a per-capita income of $1,600 a year and an unemployment rate hovering around 20%, that Caribbean nation needs all the economic help it can get. And who is the largest private exporter of Dominican sugar? The Fanjuls, thanks in part to their long-standing relationship with the Dominican Republic’s politicians. Through a subsidiary, Central Romana Ltd., the brothers grow sugar cane and operate the world’s largest sugar mill there. The profit margin is substantial, partly because cane cutters on the island earn about $100 a month, making production costs much lower than in Florida. From their Dominican plantation the Fanjuls export roughly 100,000 tons of raw, duty-free sugar each year to the U.S.
Whether they sell sugar from their holdings in the Everglades or from their mill in the Caribbean, the Fanjuls are guaranteed a U.S. price that is more than double anywhere else in the world. As might be expected, having it both ways has propelled the Fanjuls into the ranks of the richest Americans. Their wealth is counted in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
And although they appear frequently in the society pages, the Fanjuls won’t be caught dead in the financial section. As Emilia Fanjul, the wife of Pepe, once confided to a society reporter, “We like to be private about the business.”
Depending on the season, the Fanjuls can be found shooting game in Scotland, skiing in Switzerland or relaxing at their spectacular Casa de Campo. These 7,000 acres overlooking the sea have long been a favorite playground of the wealthy. But Palm Beach is still their real home, and Florida is still the heart of their financial empire. They now farm an estimated 180,000 acres of cane-producing land in the Everglades–43% of the total–making them one of the two-largest sugar growers in the state.
For decades, this region has been home to one of the worst jobs in America–hacking cane with a machete. Until the work was mechanized in the 1990s, the growers had to bring in thousands of cane cutters from the Caribbean every season. Yet in preserving the subsidy that has made millionaires of the Fanjuls, Congress has cited the fact that it saves American jobs.
Migrant-labor organizations and legal-aid groups in Florida have long waged an ongoing battle with the Fanjuls and other growers over the abysmal conditions. Greg Schell, an attorney with the Migrant Farmworkers Justice Project in Belle Glade, Fla., contends that of all the growers, the Fanjuls have treated their workers the worst. “They are in a class by themselves,” he said. A lawsuit seeking back wages and benefits is expected to go to trial next spring.
Every few years, critics of the sugar program attempt to roll back the subsidy that has enriched the Fanjuls and kept sugar prices high. And every time they fail, largely because of the power of the sugar lobby, which includes not just large growers like the Fanjuls but thousands of small sugar-beet farmers in other parts of the nation.
Though by no means the largest special interest in Washington, the sugar lobby is one of the most well-heeled. And among growers, the Fanjuls are big givers. Family members and corporate executives have contributed nearly $1 million so far in this decade, dividing the money fairly evenly between political parties.
This knack for covering all political bases carries all the way to the top of the Fanjul empire. Alfonso Fanjul served as co-chairman of Bill Clinton’s Florida campaign in 1992. His brother Pepe was national vice chairman of finance for Bob Dole’s presidential campaign in 1996 and was host to a $1,000-a-head fund raiser for Dole at his Palm Beach mansion. After Clinton’s 1992 victory, Alfie was a member of the select group invited by the Clinton camp to attend the President-elect’s “economic summit” in Little Rock, Ark.
The film officially premiered at the Montreal International Haitian Film Festival, but preview screenings in Paris and Miami led to heated controversy.
The Miami screening of the film, which included many members of the hispanic media of South Florida and from the Dominican Republic, was the subject of a cease and desist order one hour before the time of screening, as well as a bribery scandal when several radio producers came forward to state that Dominican diplomats had offered them bribes to disrupt the screening and give the film a bad review. The Paris screening of the film was also the subject of a sabotage attempt.
The creator accuses Florida’s powerful sugar industry of blackballing Sugar Babies.
Published March 9, 2008
MIAMI – From their perch atop Florida’s sugar industry, the Fanjul family wields political and cultural power from the sunny sands of Palm Beach to the corridors of Washington.
Now filmmaker Amy Serrano believes the family has used that power to block the showing of her documentary critical of the family’s umbrella company, Flo-Sun Inc., at the Miami International Film Festival. And she says her project about the Fanjuls is not the only one to run into trouble in recent months. She points to the fight the CBS-TV series Cane faced before it was aired.
“I feel like my film has been blackballed,” said Serrano of her documentary, The Sugar Babies. It’s about the mistreatment of Haitian sugar workers in the Dominican Republic, where the Fanjul family and other companies harvest cane.
Gaston Cantens, a spokesman for the Fanjuls’ West Palm Beach Florida Crystals Corp., called any accusation that the Fanjuls exerted undue pressure ridiculous.
Serrano’s film was rejected from the festival, which ends today, days before the final lineup was announced. The rejection came despite initial support from the festival’s organizers and acclaim at more than a dozen other festivals worldwide.
Serrano said she has no proof the Fanjuls were behind the decision but maintains explanations for her film’s rejection and the subsequent response from another Miami festival were suspicious.
Films about other sugar families are running into direct opposition from their subjects.
The Dominican Republic’s Vicini sugar family recently hired a Washington, D.C., law firm to sue the makers of another documentary, The Price of Sugar, for defamation.
Cantens said the sugar industry is tired of one-sided portrayals of “big sugar.”
“For years we kind of took it on the chin,” he said of stories alleging worker mistreatment and environmental pollution. “We’re tired of taking it on the chin, and we’re fighting back.”
The Fanjuls’ political influence is no small thing. It was the Cuban-American patriarch Alfie Fanjul’s telephone call that interrupted President Bill Clinton during an indiscreet moment with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. The family and its network have already given more than $300,000 so far in the 2008 election cycle to political committees and candidates from both major parties.
Serrano, a Cuban-American and Miami native, said festival officials initially gushed over her film in November. Back then, she told organizers she had already exhibited it elsewhere, including for students at Florida International University in Miami. It was a private showing but made local headlines when media showed up with the Dominican consul, who denounced the portrayal of his country.
Film festival officials originally said the FIU showing was fine, according to e-mail exchanges with Serrano. But, on Jan. 25, Serrano got another letter telling her the showing was a problem because of the media coverage, which disqualified it.
Festival director Patrick de Bokay denied the Fanjuls pressured him, saying “you have to make hard decisions, and you cannot take all the films.”
Bokay said he offered to hold a special screening for The Sugar Babies at a later date.
That would mean much less publicity – and less controversy, Serrano said.
Days after the film festival’s rejection, the Women’s International Film Festival in Miami, which opens March 26, also began to backpedal on its invitation to show the film, Serrano said. Eventually the organizers offered a small theater with a forum to bring in different views.
Serrano, who has lined up a number of other festivals, plans to decline.
The Fanjuls dropped their lawsuit against Cane, a Cuban-flavored mix of Dynasty and Dallas set among South Florida’s sugar fields, only after producers changed details.