LN – He is 12 years old and since he was 9 he works in the yerba mate harvest: “I get up at five in the morning”

Si te gusta, compártelo

A documentary that is released today exposes the reality of the boys and girls who work in the yerba mate harvest, in Misiones; from the organization A Dream for Missions fight for the eradication of child labor Credit: Courtesy Posibl.

Nico is 12 years old and lives in Puerto Esperanza, a town less than 60 kilometers from the tourist Puerto Iguazú, in Misiones. Since she is 9,

he gets up at five in the morning

to work in the

yerba mate harvest

, like many other boys and girls in that province. Takes

clothes, a plate, a spoon and put together a mattress with tacuaras

. This is how his days pass at the tarefa. His task: to cut and fix the grass, “to put it to strike out”.

-Why did you start working?

-Because we needed at my house. Clothes, to eat – Nico replies timidly.

-Are there many boys in the tarefa?

-If many.

-What is your dream?

“Just keep working,” he says, with a harshness and a naturalization of his situation that knocks him out.

His testimony is part of the documentary “Free from Child Labor”, by


, which opens today, on World Day Against Child Labor, in Flow. It is a continuation of the documentary ”

I like mate, without child labor

“, carried out by the same production company in 2013. Hand in hand with the social organization

A Dream for Missions,

It seeks to raise awareness about the reality that is hidden in the grasslands of that province where the red earth contrasts with the green of the jungle.

The documentary “Free from Child Labor”, by Posibl. premieres today on Flow


According to him

Child and Adolescent Labor Risk Identification Model (MIRTI)

, an index that allows identifying which are the provinces and departments of Argentina with the greatest possibility of presenting child labor,

Misiones tops the ranking.

This is an index prepared by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security of the Nation; the International Labor Organization (ILO); ECLAC and the Regional Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean free of Child Labor, which, among other factors, consider whether children and adolescents belong to households whose head is an unregistered wage earner, whether they attend school and whether they have coverage of health pays.

Patricia Ocampo is president and founder of

A Dream for Missions.

For years he has worked tirelessly to

make visible and eradicate

child labor in the harvest of yerba mate and other crops. In dialogue with LA NACION, he says that although he believes that progress has been made in raising awareness of this problem, placing it on the public and political agenda, in general terms the

critical situation of the tareferos

(Those who cultivate yerba mate by hand), continues to be the same as when they first reported it.

“These days we were distributing chinstraps and gel alcohol to the workers, and they told us how there are still many boys and girls who accompany their families to the harvest, since they are paid per ton and try to collect as much as possible among all. Those responsible turn a blind eye, “says Ocampo.

They are boys and girls like Nico, who start working between the ages of five and 13. Dropout is a common currency, but so are health problems. It is a job as sacrificed as bad pay, which consumes their bodies and strikes each and every one of their rights, such as to play, rest, study. In short, to be boys and girls.

For Ocampo, restoring the rights of those children should be an urgent priority for the State. “If we understand that a boy like Nico is lost, we are lost as a society, because that child did not choose or decide to be there. We have an ethical and moral responsibility as citizens to get him out of that place,” says the founder of A Dream for Missions .

Patricia Ocampo, along with some girls and boys from her province; For years it has been fighting for the sanction of a law that certifies that grass, among other products, is
Patricia Ocampo, along with some girls and boys from her province; For years it has been fighting for the sanction of a law that certifies that grass, among other products, is “free of child labor”

She lived it closely. He was three years old when he was first in a yerbal, kilometers from the city of Oberá. It was months of getting up at dawn, waiting for the truck, going to the tarefa and staying away from home for 15 days to a month, a reality that soon began to naturalize. When she got a job as a domestic worker in a first aid room and a position in the municipality, her parents decided not to return to the job. “They rebelled against the system and stopped naturalizing it, like me, who now want to be the voice of those who do not have it,” he says.

According to MIRTI, in the area

rural of Misiones

Children and adolescents living in a household whose head is an unregistered wage earner are 2.4 times more likely to carry out work activities.

Regarding the impact of these works on the immediate quality of life and the future projections of boys and girls,

the panorama could not be darker

. “That boy who starts to lock up, at 40 or 45 years old, is going to have a lot of back and waist problems because of the frayed -baggers- who carry him. The contractors start to spread the word and stop calling him to work. When you take away the possibility of an education from a child but also work for so many years in unprotected conditions, they become adults without opportunities and with health problems, “says Ocampo.

In the tarefa ecosystem, where services are outsourced, responsibilities are often diluted. “The company or the producer contacts the contractor who in turn subcontracts the tareferos. When there is a work situation that is not worthy, the responsibility falls on the contractor, but we consider that the producer should be responsible because it is their land”, Ocampo points out.

Regarding the public policies that are essential to fight child labor, Martín De Nicola, coordinator of the

National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor

(Conaeti), underlines the need to strengthen the articulation between the Nation and the provinces, incorporating the public, private and union sectors, and achieving greater territorial incidence. “In more practical and advocacy issues, from the

Network of Companies Against Child Labor,

which is made up of more than 100 companies, strong work is being done in the value chains with suppliers, customers, employees, “says De Nicola. In this line, he says that there are links that are” a little gray “, such as the outsourced carrier services for yerba mate crops, for example.

This point, for Ocampo, is key. A Dream for Missions has spent years working for the sanction of a


to design and implement a program to certify the harvest of agricultural products, within the framework of public policies aimed at preventing and eradicating child labor, and guaranteeing adolescent work under protected conditions. The initiative, in turn, aims to progressively contribute to improving working conditions in a production sector that, in addition to being an area particularly sensitive to the use of child labor, shows high levels of

job insecurity and informality.

“We presented the law again last year with the then deputy Daniel Arroyo and now we are having meetings via Zoom with the deputies who want to attend us to add a letter of adherence to the project,” he says. Also, they are gathering signatures on the platform



“We propose that INTI be the body that certifies that companies are free of child labor. We believe that as consumers we must have that option of choosing products on the shelves that guarantee that workers and their families were cared for,” Ocampo concludes.

More information

  • Free from Child Labor:

    Today the Posibl documentary premieres in Flow. “Free from child labor” that seeks to raise awareness about the reality that is hidden in the grasslands of Misiones. It has the testimony of a child who recounts in first person the cruel reality of child labor.
  • A dream for Misiones:

    Learn more about the organization, its initiatives at the local and regional level.
  • Add your signature to your

    petition on Change.org

    to certify child labor free products.


. (tagsToTranslate) He is 12 years old and since he was 9 he works in the yerba mate harvest: “I get up at five in the morning” – LA NACION

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