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Cablegate: Ecuador Celebrates World Day Against Child Labor

VZCZCXYZ0007
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #1395 1692148
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 182148Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7221
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6727
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 2586
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN 0630
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 1731
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 2468
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS QUITO 001395

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ETRD SOCI PGOV EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR CELEBRATES WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOR

REF: QUITO 335

SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) The Government of Ecuador (GOE) marked the 2007 World Day
Against Child Labor by organizing a conference focused primarily on
presenting basic information, highlighting successes, and enlisting
support for future efforts. This event at the Ministry of
Agriculture focused primarily on agricultural child labor, raising
concerns that the Ministry of Labor is not assuming its
responsibility to lead GOE efforts to eliminate child labor by 2020.
End Summary.

FORMAT/ATMOSPHERICS
-------------------
2. (U) Approximately 100 people from the GOE, the international
community and NGOs participated on June 12 in a conference marking
World Day Against Child Labor. The conference, subtitled
"Agriculture Free of Child Labor: The Future Harvest," was hosted by
the Ministry of Agriculture. The conference began with a video
presentation, followed by a slideshow summary of Ecuadorian child
labor statistics, and concluded with speeches from representatives
of government, UN, and labor organizations involved in Ecuador's
efforts to eliminate child labor. A detailed information packet was
also given to all members of the audience.

INFORMING THE PUBLIC
--------------------
3. (U) The video presentation, slideshow summary, and first
speeches were very general and focused on defining child labor and
giving the basic facts of Ecuador's child labor situation. GOE
officials confirmed that 662,664 children in Ecuador are
participating in exploitative child labor in 2007. Of these, 60.4%
work in agriculture, predominantly on banana and flower plantations.
These statistics do not include children who legitimately work for
their families or in a non-exploitative environment.

4. (U) Speakers generally emphasized the health and safety concerns
of children working in agriculture. They also emphasized that child
labor reinforces the cycle of rural poverty by preventing children
from attending schools to receive education. Eliminating child
labor is recognized as essential to Ecuador's long-term social and
economic development.

PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE, BUT THE WORK IS NOT YET DONE
--------------------------------------------- -------
5. (U) ILO representative Cesar Mosquera and Bolivar Cevallos,
President of the Flower Exporters Association, highlighted successes
in reducing the numbers of child laborers and in organizing
government and civil society to fight against child labor. ILO's
2007 statistics show the number of exploited child laborers has
fallen by 116,336 children since 2001. They pointed to initiatives
to certify businesses as being free of child labor.

6. (U) Speakers emphasized the need for continued coordinated,
integrated action among government, civil society, business, and
labor organizations to successfully fight child labor. Several
speakers framed the resolution of the child labor issue as a moral
and patriotic imperative in their calls to action. Minister of
Agriculture Carlos Vallejo and Ministry of Labor representative
Leonardo Chiriboga emphasized the ongoing and existing coordination
efforts among government agencies, but made no mention of any new
specific GOE initiatives.

COMMENT
-------
6. (U) Though general in scope and tone, the conference was the
GOE's first serious attempt to address the issue of child labor in a
coordinated public fashion since President Correa took office. The
wide participation of government, civil society, and labor
organizations in the conference demonstrated growing public and
private sector interest in attacking the problem.

7. (SBU) The conference was a good opportunity for the child labor
community to provide information and marshal support for the
struggle to eliminate remaining child labor in Ecuador. It is
noteworthy that the Ministry of Agriculture hosted the event rather
than the Ministry of Labor. While Minister of Labor Antonio
Gagliardo (who chose not attend the event) recognizes the importance
of combating child labor (reftel), his ministry is not actively
leading GOE efforts to combat the problem. We will share our
concerns that participation of the Ministry of Labor remains crucial
to a truly successful effort to combat child labor.

JEWELL
1

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