Guatemala, Guatemala January 23, 2007

Guatemala continues to be a country plagued by crime and impunity. On average, 12 homicides a day occur in the capital city of 2.5 million. In addition to the terrible security situation, two major banks have collapsed in the past four months, for the most part due to corruption. A union leader in the midst of tense contract negotiations was brutally assassinated last week. Again, it is simple to see why people feel the necessity to go to other countries to have any chance at getting ahead.

São Paulo, Brazil December 15, 2006

A quick stop through Brazil on the return from Bolivia has proven quite fruitful. Cathleen met with labor lawyers, union leaders, and migrant experts to discuss about portable justice issues and establish alliances for future work. Approximately 300,000 unauthorized workers from Bolivia labor in the garment industry concentrated in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Although Bolivians are freely allowed to enter Brazil, a foreigner is not allowed to work without employment authorization.

Cochabamba Bolivia, December 11, 2006

While in Bolivia, Cathleen discussed with Bolivian lawyers the local laws in regard to recruiting Bolivians to work abroad. In 2006, 147 Bolivians participated in the USA guestworker program. Some of these Bolivians were brought to work in Decateur Hotels in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. These workers, along with workers from Peru and the Dominican Republic were grossly underpaid. The Sothern Poverty Law Center is currently suing Decateur hotels on behalf of these guestworkers.

Cochabamba, Bolivia December 9, 2006

Global Workers came to Cochabamba, Bolivia as a guest speaker in the People’s Summit for South American Integration Legal Workshop, coordinated to coincide with the Second Summit of South American Presidents, December 8-9, 2006. Representing Global Workers, Cathleen Caron, joined labor lawyers from Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba to discuss various themes including fairer free trade, labor protection and trade agreement linkages, human rights and integration, and social security systems.

October 10, 2006

The USA’s H2 temporary guestworker program is flawed for many reasons that have been touched on these pages. One of those reasons is that the visas tie workers to one employer. If they encounter any work-place problems, such as underpayment of wages, and if they complain, they will likely be sent home. After borrowing enormous quantities (many must use their land as collateral), no worker wants to be returned home with empty pockets. They literally have everything to lose.


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