Not Just Humans Have Backgrounds

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Not Just Humans Have Backgrounds

Photo Courtesy: https://www.healthline.com

Photo Courtesy: https://www.healthline.com

Photo Courtesy: https://www.healthline.com

Photo Courtesy: https://www.healthline.com

Meghan Cahill, Staff Writer

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We, humans, use and eat things everyday without any recollection of how they were made or where they even come from. In some way we just trust that whatever it is we are using or eating is okay and safe. But, I’m here to inform you that many objects in our everyday life have a more complex and unsafe background than you would think. So by buying these objects, are we promoting these schemes?

    Mexico, our biggest avocado provider, earned more than $1.5 billion in exports in 2016.  Even though they have improved Mexico’s economy, avocados have become a huge problem in the country, becoming almost, if not worse, than the drug cartel. The reason for this is because avocado farmers have been making huge dollars due to the increase in demand for this food, and everyone wants in. Avocado farmers have been taken hostage, and even have had their families killed by criminals who are supplementing their drug-smuggling income by extorting local business owners. Official statistics counted 8,258 murders between 2006 and 2015.

Tancitaro, the world capital of avocado production, now ships out more than a million dollars worth of avocados every day. But this capital has been driven by a conflict between rival criminal groups who are killing and holding avocado farmers for ransome. Banding together, farmers in Tancitaro created an all-volunteer defense force against these criminals. They have created heavy barricades around the city, which is also heavily armed with guards. “[Now] there’s more peace, more construction, more development,” says Sanchez, who works for the Tancitaro Public Security Force, “that’s the benefit of security.”

Most people are oblivious to a problem like this going on. When eating an avocado, you might be eating something held ransom by criminals. Avocados aren’t the only food coming from somewhere with a bad history. Tomatoes too. Two of Italy’s biggest food companies have been implicated in labour abuses of migrant workers picking tomatoes. Prosecutor, Paola Guglielmi, named Mutti and Conserva Italia, two Italian companies, as benefitting from “conditions of absolute exploitation.” Both companies supply major UK supermarkets with premium tinned tomatoes and passata. This situation became clear in July 2015 when one legal Sudanese immigrant, Abdullah Muhammad, died at 47 years old when he suffered a heart attack while working in the fields of Nardo, located on the heel of southern Italy. Muhammad’s life could have been saved if he had been allowed to go to a hospital. The reason he was not allowed to go is because of the “caporalato” system which rules each labour worker under what’s known as a gangmaster.

The migrants (both legal and illegal) are organized into informal labour groups that are hired by Italian landowners to harvest their crops.Workers make an average of 30 pesos a day, working from 4am-5pm, but can expect to lose up to half of that just to pay for food, transport, water, and a cut to their gangmaster. Muhammad was not taken to the hospital because he was not able to pay his gangmaster the money to get there and pay the bills afterward.Yvan Sagnet, 32, from Cameroon working in the fields near where Muhammad died said, “When I arrived in Puglia I discovered the gangmaster system – conditions were inhuman – they were ghettos that were like concentration camps.”

It’s not just the food industry that abuses their power over their workers. Technology, especially Apple technology, has a huge labour problem in China, forming around Longua, which is known as Apple’s forbidden city. The Longua plant is a major manufacturer of Apple products. Being the best known factory in the world, it’s also the most secretive and sealed off. Employees have to swipe I.D. cards to get in, and drivers entering with delivery trucks are subject to fingerprint scans. A Reuters journalist was once dragged out of a car and beaten for taking photos from outside the factory walls.

Foxconn, the factory in Langua, is the single largest employer in mainland China, with 1.3 million people on payroll. You might of heard of this factory and city before because in 2010 it was all over the news. The Longhua assembly line workers began killing themselves by throwing themselves off the towering dorm buildings in protest of the inhuman working conditions they are subjected to work in. There was 18 reported suicide attempts that year alone and 14 confirmed deaths. 20 more people were talked down before they could jump by Foxconn officials. Their protests were heard around the world and people started investigating how bad these factory workers were really treated, and why Apple was getting away with it.

Workers have extremely long work days, 12 hour shifts, with harsh management who humiliate workers when they make mistakes or aren’t working fast enough. They fine their workers for things that they should not be fined for, and make promises to them about benefits but never actually fulfill those promises. An employee at Foxconn stated, “It wouldn’t be Foxconn without people dying… every year people kill themselves. They take it as a normal thing.”

Meghan Cahill, Staff

Hi, I'm Meghan. I'm a junior at MHS, and I took journalism freshman year, which inspired me to join newspaper club my sophomore year. I mostly write editorials...

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