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Bolivia’s Child Labor: Exploitation or Tradition?

In this New York Times video from 2015, reporter Mathias Meier explores child labor in Boliva. According to the report, more than one million children in Bolivia work, and in 2014 the legal working age was lowered to ten due to lobbying efforts by the Bolivian Child Labor Union. A former representative from the union explains, “Child labor isn’t the problem. The problem is exploitation.” A university professor agrees; he explains how child labor plays an important role in Andean society. We meet the Camino-Lopez family, whose eight children work baking bread and pastries during the day and go to school at night. We also meet three children who have worked at a brick works, where they have performed hard labor under dangerous conditions, since the age of six. The International Labor Organization wants to impose sanctions on Bolivia because of the legal working age, but the Bolivian Child Labor Union wants the age lowered even further.

discussion

What Bolivian law is this video about?

Consider the video’s depiction of Lopez-Camino children with Luis, Israel, and Diego. Where do they work? What do they do? What are their working conditions like? Are they able to attend school regularly? What does their future hold?

What two different points of view about child labor in Bolivia does this video present?

Compare the role of children in Bolivian society to the role of children in the United States.