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Venezuelan Crisis: Government Orders Forced Labor

Don’t tell socialist Bernie Sanders, but in socialist Venezuela, where the inflation rate is forecast to top 700 per cent, the economy is expected to decrease by 10% this year, and the country’s ports have come under army control, laws established by the government have established the use of forced labor.

On Thursday, Amnesty International released a statement asserting, “A new decree establishing that any employee in Venezuela can be effectively made to work in the country’s fields as a way to fight the current food crisis is unlawful and effectively amounts to forced labor.” Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, stated, “The new decree completely misses the point when it comes to finding ways for Venezuela to crawl out of the deep crisis it has been submerged in for years. Trying to tackle Venezuela’s severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid.”

Last week, President Nicolás Maduro signed into law the capacity for the labor ministry to order “all workers from the public and private sector with enough physical capabilities and technical know-how” to work in a government drive to raise food production. The laborers could be forced to work for 60 days, and that period could be doubled “if the circumstances require it.” The law also requires the agriculture companies using the workers to pay the workers’ salaries. The law imposed states its goal is to “guarantee food supply, social justice, and democracy,” and claims it is necessary as “a defense against the economic war.”

Shortages of basic goods have become so ubiquitous in Venezuela that one weekend in July 120,000 Venezuelans, noting a brief loosening of border controls, hastened to Cúcuta, Colombia to find food.

Antonio Pestana, chief of Venezuela’s farming association, has claimed only 25 percent of agricultural land is actually being farmed.

Maduro’s government has attempted to deflect blame for the economic crisis by blaming an “economic war” waged by right-wing businesses who are encouraged by the United States.

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