News / Americas

Mexico Authorities Free 275 Trapped In Forced Labor

Mexico Authorities Free 275 Trapped In Forced Labori
X
June 13, 2013 10:36 AM
Mexico abolished slavery in the early 19th century, but many poor Mexicans live and work in slave-like conditions either at home or abroad. Mexican authorities this week rescued 275 people who said they were forced to work at a tomato plant in the western State of Jalisco for inadequate pay and housing. Zlatica Hoke has this report.
TEXT SIZE - +
Zlatica Hoke
Mexico abolished slavery in the early 19th century, but many poor Mexicans live and work in slave-like conditions either at home or abroad.  Mexican authorities this week rescued 275 people who said they were forced to work at a tomato plant in the western State of Jalisco for inadequate pay and housing. 

Bioparques de Occidente is a tomato sorting and packing company in the municipality of Toliman in the western state of Jalisco.  The management finds workers to get the tomatoes ready for export in nearby rural areas.

Promise of work, wages, food

Regional prosecutor Salvador Gonzales said people are lured to the plant by offers of reasonable wages, accommodation and schools for their children.  "They [workers] were offered jobs in Ciudad Guzman where they were offered 100 pesos [$7.85] per day, schools, accommodation. The offer was attractive. But when they [workers] arrived here they realized it was a different reality. They [Bioparques de Occidente] made them work more than eight hours and didn't pay them 100 pesos,'' he said.

Officials said the victims were mainly paid in vouchers redeemable at the company store, where items were sold at overinflated prices.  The living conditions were crowded and dirty.  But the workers were not permitted to leave. 

Alejandro Acosta said they were treated cruelly. "We are badly treated here. It's not fair. They should pay us what they owe us in any case. Scoldings in the morning when one has a sick baby. They go to your room, kick the door open and tell you: 'Go to work, now!' If one does not go to work in the field you are not given any food, no food and apart from that you have to work here, sweep the floor, clean toilets, collect rubbish," Acosta explained. "It's not fair.''

But one man managed to escape and alert authorities in the state capital, Guadalajara.

Violators arrested

Five foremen were arrested on charges of "grave violations and crimes, including the illegal privation of liberty and human trafficking.  

In 2007, Mauritania became the last country to ban slavery officially, but rights groups said that global slave trade in various forms continues, generating an estimated $32 billion a year.

A recent study, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, estimated that 880,000 people are trapped in forced labor in nine European countries alone: France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Jailed American Aims to Leave Cuba 'Dead or Alive'

In Havana after visiting Alan Gross, attorney Scott Gilbert say his client has lost some vision in his right eye, walks with a limp due to hip problems, has lost a tooth and is 50 kilograms lighter than at the time of his arrest
More

Oldest Living Pro Ballplayer Dead at 102

Conrado Marrero's grandson confirmed the death, which came just two days before the centenarian's 103rd birthday
More

Summit to Protect Oceans Opens

Oceans called fundamental to life
More

Actress Lupita Nyong'o is People's 'Most Beautiful' Woman

Oscar winner, 31, lauded for role in '12 Years A Slave' says she 'never dreamed' she would be praised for her looks and land on cover of weekly magazine
More

Violent Protests Erupt Near Rio's Tourist Attractions

The rioting was sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a dancer on Brazil's Globo television network, had been discovered
More

Russia Expels Canadian Diplomat

Reports say first secretary's expulsion in Moscow is in retaliation for deportation of Russian military attache from Russian Embassy in Ottawa
More