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Cablegate: Venezuela: Information On Forced Labor and Child

P 181848Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO DEPT OF LABOR PRIORITY
SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1345
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
LABOR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY

UNCLAS CARACAS 000865

DEPARTMENT PASS TO AID/OTI (RPORTER)
DOL/ILAB (RRIGBY)
DRL/ILCSR (MMITTELHAUSER)
G/TIP (SSTEINER)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EIND ELAB ETRD PHUM SOCI VE
SUBJECT: VENEZUELA: INFORMATION ON FORCED LABOR AND CHILD
LABOR IN THE PRODUCTION OF GOODS

REF: STATE 43120

1. SUMMARY. This cable responds to reftel request for
information on forced labor and child labor in the production
of goods in Venezuela. Venezuela, a high volume, oil
producing nation, is largely dependent on imports, and as a
result does not have a tradition of child labor in the
production of goods. Child laborers predominately work in
the agricultural sector or in small-to-medium sized
businesses. Incidents of forced labor in the production of
goods are uncommon in the formal and informal sectors of the
Venezuelan economy. Local organizations promoting the rights
of children, however, speculate that two-thirds of child
laborers, in legal and illegal employment activities, are
working in the informal sector. Post does not have
information regarding child labor in the production of any
specific good. END SUMMARY.

---------
NARRATIVE
---------

2. Venezuelan law protects children from exploitation in the
workplace, but enforcement is often lacking. Venezuelan law
permits children between the ages of 12 and 14 to work only
with special government permission. Children between the
ages of 14 and 16 may not work without the permission of
their legal guardians. Children under 16 may work not more
than six hours per day or 30 hours per week. Minors may work
only between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

3. With respect to economic exploitation, including child
labor, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Child
noted October 2007 that the Venezuelan government has a
National Program of Protection of Child Workers (PRONAT), but
regretted the lack of information about the "reality and
extent" of children engaged in all forms of labor activities.
The Committee recommended that the Venezuelan government
evaluate its National Program and "determine the numbers and
categories of children working informally or formally in the
economy and take all necessary measure to protect children
from economic exploitation."

4. The Community Center for Apprenticeship and Promotion of
the Rights of Children and Adolescents (CECODAP), a local NGO
promoting the rights of children and adolescents, noted that
it is unaware of specific incidents of forced or child labor
in the production of goods in Venezuela. Instead, child
laborers predominantly work in the agricultural sector or in
small-to-medium sized businesses. A representative from
CECODAP said that children working in the commercial sex
trade, particularly in mining areas, are at greater risk for
exploitation. The same official added that the number of
minors working in the formal sector had decreased, while
those working in the informal sector has steadily increased
in recent years.

---------
Incidence
---------

5. Post notes that incidence statistics provided by
government agencies do not distinguish between voluntary,
forced labor, or exploitative labor as defined by cable
guidance (Reftel). A representative from CECODAP told Poloff
that the lack of reliable statistical data on the working
conditions of child laborers makes it difficult for
government agencies and NGOs alike to design programs that
address the needs of this population. The CECODAP official
noted that more information is needed on the types of
industries that seek child laborers, the living and family
conditions of these children, and whether the children attend
school while working.

6. The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela (BRV) Statistics
Office categorizes labor by children under the age of 16 into
different sectors, but does not detail what specific goods
children are producing. In 2006, according to the BRV,
131,902 boys and 10,196 girls worked in the agricultural
sector, 3,772 boys and 10,285 girls worked in industrial
manufacturing, and 36,106 boys and 746 girls worked in
construction.

Downes

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