Haiti's Miracle of Development Turns into Nightmare of Exploitation
The first factory at the new Caracol industrial park in northern Haiti, Sae-A, has already begun operations and is paying new workers 150 gourdes, or $3.75 US (less than $.50 an hour) for nine hours of work.
For months now, several hundered people have been working in the industrial park before the official launch that is scheduled for October. The employees, the majority of whom are young women, come from all over the region to work.
Almost four years after the Haitian government set the minimum wage at 200 gourdes a day ($5 US), this regulation has never been applied because the businesses are benefiting from the very high level of unemployment in the country, and the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the situation.
“I’ve been working in the park at Caracol for three months. They should have paid us $420 Haitian dollars ($52.50 US) each 15 days but we don’t always receive that complete amount. With this little bit of money we are supposed to pay our transportation, buy food and pay school fees for our children. The money we get paid isn’t even enough to pay for our food and transport.
“They give us only a little water to drink (while we work) and we must use only one cup among several workers in this time of cholera."
All the workers in the factory are facing the same situation. The majority of the workers are young women from the ages of 18 to 32 years old. Many of these workers come from families that cultivated the land where the industrial park was built. They used the profits from selling their produce to pay for their children to attend school, to buy food to eat and pay for health care. Two years after the land was taken from their families they have found work that provides less resources at a higher risk.