Tuesday, June 15, 2004

More on sugar and child labor

I'll have a few critical words in a few days about the recent HRW report on child labor in the sugar industry in El Salvador (see post a few days ago), as well as the government reaction, but it's clear that it's not just the government and HRW that have a hard time keeping their facts straight(now you know where I'll be headed).

The other day there was a press release from the Democratic candidate for Senate in Louisiana, Chris John, that found in the Washington Post story an amazing argument against CAFTA. In a June 10 press release, John notes:

The Post story notes that more than 17 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working sugarcane and other crops in Central America, decreasing the overhead production costs of crops that are then sold cheaply on the world market.
Wait a minute -- there may not be that many children in all of Central America! The Post report uses the 17 million number to refer to Latin America (and most likely, the Carribean), which has a total population of over 520 million people. Central America, by contrast, has around 33 million, according to the UN Population Division.

By the way, the Child Labor Coalition carries out a survey every year of self-reporting by state labor departments of inspections that reveal violations of child labor laws.

Louisiana is one of about a quarter of all states that do not respond to their survey.

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