29 febrero 2008

La economía escondida

Hablar de información económica suele ser sinónimo de Bolsa, datos macro, análisis sectoriales, presentación de beneficios, las OPA y la vivienda, los boom y los crash, las 500 mejores empresas, las 100 oportunidades para invertir y los 50 mejores empresarios del año - por no citar los palos de golf y el último parador donde pasar el fin de semana, si me permiten la caricatura-.

Por eso me resulta muy esperanzador que dos publicaciones de negocios como Forbes y la edición europea de Fortune hayan dedicado sus últimas portadas a una realidad que permanece escandalosamente escondida: la explotación infantil.

"Jyothi Ramulla Naga is 4 feet tall. From sunup to sundown she is hunched over in the fields of a cottonseed farm in southern India, earning 20 cents an hour. Farmers in the Uyyalawada region process high-tech cottonseeds genetically engineered to contain a natural pesticide, on behalf of U.S. agriculture giant Monsanto.

To get the seeds to breed true the farmers have to cross-pollinate the plants, a laborious task that keeps a peak of a dozen workers busy for several months on just one acre. And to make a profit the farmers have to use cheap labor. That means using kids like Jyothi, who says she's 15 but looks no older than 12".

"Outside the village of Sinikosson in southwestern Ivory Coast, along a trail tracing the edge of a muddy fishpond, Madi Ouedraogo sits on the ground picking up cocoa pods in one hand, hacking them open with a machete in the other and scooping the filmy white beans into plastic buckets.

It is the middle of the school day, but Madi, who looks to be about 10, says his family can't afford the fees to send him to the nearest school, five miles away. "I don't like this work," he says. "I would rather do something else. But I have to do this."

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