Costa Rica and Guatemala:
An Analysis of Child Labor
LER 554 - Professor Aguilera - 9/24/2008
Raven Johnson
Maria Morozowich
Jessica Velasco
Dorothy Wawrzak
Objectives
Introduction to Central America
 Child Labor in the world
 Child Labor in

– Costa Rica
– Guatemala

Conclusions
Introduction to Central America
Can anyone describe the location of
Central America?
 Name 3 countries in the region.

Introduction to Central America


Central America is often referred to as either the
southern most tip of North America, connecting North
America to South America or a region all its own
The countries that make up Central America are:
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
Belize
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Guatemala
Honduras
Nicaragua
Panama
History of Central America




Originally occupied by the Mayan and Aztec
people
Following Christopher Columbus’ expedition,
Spain ruled (and inhabited) nearly all of Central
America (barring British Honduras, present day
Belize)
In 1821, there was a rebellion and Spain was no
longer in control
That same year, the Federal Republic of Central
America was formed, but it was short-lived (17
years)
Do you know…
Which of these countries is the
largest, by population?
Guatemala at over 12.7M residents
Which of these countries is
largest by area?
Nicaragua at nearly 130k km
Costa Rica
Costa Rica - República de Costa Rica
Population
4,191,948
Monetary Unit
Colón
Languages
Spanish (official), English
Literacy
94.9%
GDP/PPP (2007 est.)
$45.77 billion; per capita $10,300
Real growth rate
6.8%
Inflation
9.4%
Unemployment
4.6%
Exports
$7.005 billion: coffee, bananas, sugar, pineapples;
textiles, electronic components, medical equipment
Imports
$9.69 billion: raw materials, consumer goods, capital
equipment, petroleum
Major trade partners
U.S., Netherlands, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Brazil
Costa Rica is an active member of the international
community and, in 1993, proclaimed its permanent
neutrality. Its record on the environment, human rights, and
advocacy of peaceful settlement of disputes give it a
weight in world affairs far beyond its size.
Foreign Relations
Guatemala
Guatemala - República de Guatemala
Population
13,002,206
Monetary Unit
Quetzal
Languages
Spanish 60%,
Amerindian languages 40%
Literacy
71%
GDP/PPP (2007 est.)
$62.53 billion; per capita $4,700
Real growth rate
5.7%.
Inflation
6.8%.
Unemployment
3.2%
Exports
$7.468 billion: coffee, sugar, petroleum, apparel, bananas,
fruits and vegetables, cardamom
Imports
$12.67 billion: fuels, machinery and transport equipment,
construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Major trade partners
U.S., El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, South Korea, China
Foreign Relations
Guatemala's major diplomatic interests are regional
security and increasingly, regional development and
economic integration.
Which facts are real in Guatemala?
a)
b)
c)
d)
e)
An average woman in Guatemala works more
than any other women in the world
Major transit country for cocaine and heroin in
Central America
Guatemala was ranked to have the 2nd highest
concentration of ozone in the world in 2007
Organizing a union in Guatemala is lifethreatening
People steal children so they can give them in
adoption to foreigners
Child Labor

Definition: Labor that is
performed by a child who
is under the minimum age
specified for that kind of
work (as defined by
national legislation, in
accordance with accepted
standards), and that is
thus likely to impede the
child’s education and full
development
Types of child labor



Agriculture
Domestic work
Bonded child labor (when
a family receives and advanced
payment to hand a child-boy or girlover to an employer)

Forced or compulsory
recruitment for use in
armed conflict
 Trafficking (transportation of
drugs, sexual exploitation, etc)

Street work (clowns, fire-kids,
shoes, etc)
Child Labor in the World
218 million children ages 5 to 17 work in
developing countries
 Of those, 5.7 million are from Latin
America and the Caribbean

Do you know…
What is the minimum working age in
Costa Rica? Guatemala?
Costa Rica - 15, Guatemala - 14
Which of the two countries has a
higher rate of child labor?
Guatemala
Child Labor Statistics
Child Labor (5-14 years) 1999-2006
Total
Male
Female
Costa Rica
5
6
3
Guatemala
29
25
32
Definition: Percentage of children 5-14 years of age involved in child labor. A child is considered to be involved
in child labor under the following classification: (a) children 5-11 years of age who did at least one hour of
economic activity or at least 28 hours of domestic work during the week preceding the survey, and (b) children
12-14 years of age who did at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 28 hours domestic work during the
week preceding the survey.
Costa Rica: Child Labor Facts
Reported 67,000 children work
 The majority of working children were
found in:

– the agricultural sector (57.0 percent)
– services (30.9 percent)
– manufacturing (7.3 percent)
– other sectors (4.8 percent)

The rate of child work is higher in rural
than in urban areas.
Costa Rica: Child Labor Facts



Minimum age for full-time employment is15 years
of age
Other standards:
– Adolescents under 18 years are prohibited
from working for more than 6 hours a day or
36 hours a week.
– Children 12 to 18 years old may work longer
hours in agriculture and ranching, within the
limitations established for the general workday
schedules.
Violations of minimum age and child labor
standards are punishable by fines.
Costa Rica: Child Labor Eradication

2006-2007:Child Labor Improvements:
– 10.9 % to 8.7%

May 2006 – Economic subsidies for poor
adolescents in the formal and non-formal
education system to reduce child labor

2005-2010 - Second National Action Plan for the
Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and
Special Protection of Adolescent Workers
Costa Rica: Child Labor Eradication


USD 5.5 million USDOLfunded regional Child
Labor Education Initiative
Program implemented by
CARE
2006 - USDOL-funded
ILO-IPEC-implemented
USD 3 million regional
project to combat child
labor in commercial
agriculture ended
Guatemala: Child Labor

The highest incidence of child work in Latin
America
– Over 1 million children work
– Typically poor indigenous boys from rural areas

Record declines in garment maquilas, but
problem still persists especially in more rural
areas and with work done at home.
 Agriculture is the highest employer of
children, and children commonly work unpaid
for their families
Guatemala: Related Laws

Minimum age for work is 14, but younger
children may be granted authority
 Inadequate enforcement of laws results in
many unauthorized child workers.
– Shortage of labor inspectors, weakness of labor
court system

Education is compulsory until age 14, but the
law is no enforced
– Illiteracy rate = 52%, up to 85% in rural areas,
90% among indigenous children
Guatemala: Programs and Efforts





President of Guatemala recently reunited with the
Labor Ministry and other social organizations
US aid and improvements to Ministry of Labor
Task Force for Protection of Child Workers
Translating child worker rights and other laws
into indigenous languages
Various NGOs that do advocacy work, research,
and social programs designed to address
problems (focusing on street children)
Other Solutions to the Problem

Combating exploitive child labor through
education in Central America (CA-Primero
Aprendo): Implement creative and
innovative approaches:
1. provide educational opportunities for children
engaged;
2. encourage retention in, and completion of
educational programs, and
3. expand the successful transition of children in
non-formal education into formal schools or
vocational plans
Conclusion & Questions

Countries in Central America were once very
similar as a set of developing nations with
similar economic and social problems
 Guatemala remains much this way
 Costa Rica has improved dramatically and
this can be seen clearly in the recent
successful efforts to eradicate child labor
 Guatemala still struggles - what lessons can
we learn from this case study?
Gracias!!
Sources
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http://www.hrw.org/children/labor.htm
http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/76309/dc2002
/proceedings/pdfppt/guatemalachild.pdf
http://www.dol.gov/ilab/media/reports/iclp/sweat/guatemal
a.htm
http://www.childinfo.org/labour_countrydata.php
http://www.unicef.org
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107596.html
A Brief History of Central America by Hector PerezBrignoli
www.nationalencyclopedia.com
http://www.dol.gov/ilab/map/countries/costa_rica.htm
http://www.ilo.org
www.costaricapages.com
www.hartford-hwp.com/archives
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Child Labor around the World