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Gilberto Lavenant on Slavery in Mexico: 'The Only Thing Missing Were the Shackles'

Gilberto Lavenant - The Fulano Forum
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March 20, 2015

Rough conditions for Comondú farmworkers (Excélsior)

The Mexican Constitution clearly establishes that "Slavery is prohibited in the United Mexican States," and warns that slaves from abroad who enter Mexican territory, just by this event, are freed and provided the full protection of the laws.

However, in practice, unscrupulous employers act as if they are unaware of the Magna Carta. They take advantage of the needs of many Mexicans, especially the indigenous peoples, farm workers, and they exploit them as if they were beasts of burden. It appears to be an exaggeration, but it is true.

Last Monday, March 16, the head of the Ministry of Work and Social Security, Alfonso Navarrete Prida, announced, almost as if it was a discovery and great feat, that his state had rescued some 200 Tarahumaras who worked in exploitative and sub-human conditions in Comondú, Baja California Sur.

Comondú is located in the center of Baja California Sur. It is obviously Mexican territory and yet it can be considered as a slavery zone.

The indigenous people were recruited in Creel, Chihuahua by a company named El Cerezo, Rural Production Society, LLC, based in Guanajuato. With false promises, they were transferred to Comondú, Baja California Sur.

They worked at harvesting potatoes, and were paid 200 pesos per week (US$13.50) as an advance, with the promise they would be paid their entire salary at the end.

Of these workers, among whom were their families, 13 of them minors, at least 167 of them were not registered with the Mexican Social Security Institute, and as such had no medical services. The lived crammed into small huts and with serious water limitations.

The only thing missing was to put shackles on them. They brought them from far away, making it difficult to return by their own choice.

Shamelessly, Navarrete Prida said that they had received the complaint one year earlier. That is to say, for 365 days they lived and labored in those conditions. To deny that this is slavery, and totally contrary to the Constitution, is a lie.

One situation, almost the same, is what is happening south of Ensenada, in the San Quintín Valley. There farm workers are also exploited, indigenous peoples brought from other Mexican states.

The agricultural businesses of San Quintín are among the most prosperous in Mexico. They freely exploit the farm workers. Nobody dares to stop them, because they are the most powerful men in the region. As a practical matter, they hire and fire government officials.

Complaints that anyone dares to file over exploitation and violation of human and labor rights, generally are not acted upon. They end up in the dead files.

This is with the knowledge of the federal, state and municipal authorities. They have always known and little to nothing has been done to stop it. This is what can be called tolerated slavery, underhanded and dodged. This is why the southern part of Baja California is burning.

See the original at The Fulano Forum

  Check out Peyote People

  Check out The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival

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