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Cablegate: Minister of Labor Shares Concerns On Child Labor

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS QUITO 002533

SIPDIS

USTR FOR BUD CLATANOFF, USDOL FOR JORGE PEREZ-LOPEZ, DRL/IL
FOR GREG MAGGIO, EB FOR AMY HOLMAN
SECSTATE FOR US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV EC
SUBJECT: MINISTER OF LABOR SHARES CONCERNS ON CHILD LABOR

REF: A. QUITO 2480

B. QUITO 2448

1. (U) Summary. At a breakfast meeting at the Ambassador's
residence on September 15, the Ambassador emphasized to MOL
Raul Izurieta the importance of combating child labor and
inquired into current MOL efforts to do so. Izurieta
described efforts the Ministry is already taking towards
eliminating the worst forms of child labor, and looked
forward to the implementation of the USDOL-funded education
project. End Summary.

2. (U) Izurieta said the MOL will conduct a study, with the
help of INEC (the National Institute of Statistics and
Census) to determine the actual number of child workers in
Ecuador. Previous studies by UNICEF estimated about 700,000
child workers while First Lady Ximena Bohorquez, as head of
INNFA (the Institute for the Child and Family) put the number
around 1.2 million. Izurieta believes the number is much
lower-no more than 300,000.

3. (U) Izurieta expressed appreciation for the Department of
Labor's planned $3 million education program to combat child
labor. Izurieta did not want the money spent on more
studies, however, and would like "99.9%" of funds to go
directly to project implementation. Izurieta also spoke of
the need for a publicity campaign to raise rural parents'
awareness of the importance of education for their children.
Many of these parents pull children out of school to work on
the family farm. Izurieta said an awareness campaign was
needed in the business sector as well.

4. (U) Izurieta also spoke enthusiastically of the work of
the Banana Social Forum which brings together the government,
banana industry and unions to combat child labor. (The
Banana Social Forum has conducted six inspection methodology
workshops for inspectors and monitors in Guayas, Los Rios and
El Oro Provinces. They have also had six child labor
awareness workshops for banana employers and workers.)
Izurieta would like to emulate the model in a
soon-to-be-created Flower Social Forum targeting Ecuador's
expanding cut-flower industry.

5. (U) Izurieta said one child labor inspector resigned last
week but that he would hire four more inspectors this week.
Izurieta stated he believes his child labor inspectors have
done a good job of identifying which of the larger companies
are violating child labor laws.

6. (U) Comment. We believe Izurieta is willing to "do the
right thing" on child labor but needs our encouragement to
push things forward. Izurieta was eager to maintain a high
level of communication and work with us on child labor issues.
KENNEY

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