Inequalities prevailing in Latin America have a direct impact on children, with a large number of them trying to contribute to their poor families’ income by doing hard, unsafe agricultural work.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Labor Organization recently issued reports on the serious problem of
child labor. At least 13 million children are currently working in rice, cocoa, soybean and other agricultural fields, many without pay, when they should be at school.
According to these international bodies, agriculture involves 48 percent of all children working in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Half of mortal accidents involving children have been registered in the agriculture sector. The figures are alarming, despite a slight reduction when compared to previous decades.
Unfortuneately agriculture is not the only sector where you can find child labor from dawn to dusk, since many trade and services in big cities also employ children.
International Labor Organization experts stress that governments must launch strategies to address the child labor problem,
by creating of jobs for their parents. Lamentably such suggestions are seldom taken into account.
The prevalence of child labor in Latin America and the Caribbean reveals the persistence of multiple problems in societies where the wealth is concentrated in a few hands.
It is commonplace in Latin America, particularly in agricultural areas, to encounter high levels of poverty, lack of opportunity for the people and poor access to education.
All this is generally disregarded by leaders of traditional political parties, who hardly ever include measures that aim at social change in their programs. You can always see right wing candidates rehearsing demagogical speeches solely for electoral processes, as happens in Paraguay and Honduras, as in the recent elections elections. There is galloping poverty in these two countries where children are directly punished by being used as cheap labor, at the cost of future generations.
The same fate is currently being shared by many Latino children in the United States, who work in fruit plantations. Living in poverty, half a million kids of Latino descent strive to find a relief in their economic situation by working in agriculture, usually under difficult labor conditions.
Mexico’s Reforma newspaper was absolutely correct in affirming that it is shameful to see that a large number of children are working in the United States under such circumstances, pointing out that this reality runs contrary to the so-called American principles.
At the end of the day poverty, both in the United States and in the poorer southern nations poses a real challenge, and child labor
increases. This reality is the pending task for all peoples and states that are prepared to commit themselves to future citizens and new generations.
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