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Another story of broken laws

When a family lacks the resources to meet basic needs, the number one priority is income and education fades into the background
Worker at construction site - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
05/09/2017
09:00
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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When a family lacks the resources to meet basic needs, the number one priority is income and education fades into the background. The logic behind this is to ensure survival first – even if this means reproducing a cycle which most times condemns future generations to repeat the same pattern.

Thus, millions of minors in Mexico drop out of school to get a job and provide for their families; in the best cases, they manage to do both, study and work, although their performance at school is not the same as the rest of their classmates.

In Xocotla, a town in the municipality of Coscomatepec, Veracruz, several families wait for the moment their children are able to carry a 50-kilogram bag of cement on their shoulders to send them to Mexico City to find a job as bricklayers, not even knowing their children will become victims of labor exploitation. The economy of this little town is dependent on the bricklaying works done in the capital city.

Fermín and Benito, two boys of 15, native to this town, have already been working as bricklayers for one year in Mexico City, and according to the story brought to you today by EL UNIVERSAL, they have always worked – without a contract – for several construction companies.

In 2015, Mexico issued a decree prohibiting underage individuals from being hired for 12 “hazardous or unhealthy” activities, among them construction works. This law has been ignored, despite the international commitments, the country agreed upon to fight child labor. According to estimates from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), there are currently 3.6 million of underage children working.

We have heard cases of construction projects collapsing, with fatal consequences for the workers, without their families ever being compensated according to the Law. Often enough, tragedy sheds light on labor exploitation and abuse stories.

Experts and international organizations have cautioned that individuals under 18 years of age shouldn't work, as they are still in the stage of infancy and have yet to fully develop physically, mentally and emotionally.

The situation will begin to change when the next combination of factors disappears: extreme poverty, abusive companies, and an indifferent State.

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