International human rights activists are complaining that new laws have introduced forced labour in Venezuela.
"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," Amnesty International said in a statement released on Thursday.
President Nicolás Maduro signed a decree at the end of last week that gives powers to the labor ministry to order "all workers from the public and private sector with enough physical capabilities and technical know-how" to join a government drive aimed at increasing food production.
They can be required to work in the agricultural sector for a 60-day period that can be extended for another 60 days "if the circumstances require it."
Shortages of basic goods have become a normal part of life for most Venezuelans ever since the country was plunged into an economic crisis by the plummeting oil price. Food shortages have become particularly acute in recent months, accompanied by violent demonstrations and violent responses to these by the police.
Earlier this month, 120,000 desperate Venezuelans took advantage of a weekend's temporary relaxation of border controls to flood into the Colombian city of Cúcuta to shop for basics. Local stores reportedly ran out of supplies in a few hours.
Antonio Pestana, chief of Venezuela's farming association, told reporters last month that only 25 percent of agricultural land is actually being farmed....MORE
Friday, July 29, 2016
Venezuela has a new 'forced labor' law that can require people to work in fields