Argentina’s Yerba Mate Plantations Accused of Using Child Labor
LADB Article ID: 80114
By: Andrés Gaudín
A recent news report on working and living conditions on yerba mate plantations in northeastern Argentina and a bill introduced before PARLASUR, the legislative body of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), have turned new attention to labor law violations in Argentina and to the persistence of child labor in almost slave-like conditions, especially in rural areas. The exposé, published July 12 by BBC Mundo, the British network’s Spanish language branch, seems to be resonating with the public in a way that past evidence of labor irregularities did not, perhaps because it centers around mate, Argentina’s national beverage. The BBC report focuses specifically on the northeastern province of Misiones, which produces 90% of the country’s yerba mate and exports to 47 countries, including places like Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. The story is accompanied by a series of photographs showing children harvesting yerba mate leaves and sleeping in small caves dug into the earth. The report also contains testimony from adults explaining how children as young as 5 are taken out of school to work the plantations.
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