The global food system is failing
I don’t have words for how disgusting this is:
He has a job as a harvester, six days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day…but he earns so little that his family can’t afford to eat every day. Some days he survives his shift of hard physical labour on nothing but the mangoes that drop from trees by the roadside. His wife, Marina, is 23-years-old, but is so slight she might be mistaken for a young teenager. She has two daughters, Yeimi aged six and Jessica aged two. Jessica is the size of the average European one-year-old, her distended stomach a sign of chronic malnutrition. When she tries to smile, hollow creases form in her cheeks, betraying her semi-permanent state of hunger.
Despite being a leading agroexporter, half of Guatemala’s population of 14 million live in extreme poverty on less than $2 a day, and the indicators are getting worse. The money to be made from the food chain here, as in most poor countries, has been captured by elites and transnational corporations, leaving half the population excluded.
Thanks, corporate welfare and “globalization” advocates!
“The food is here,” Oxfam’s country director, Aida Pequera, says, “but the main problem is distribution. Land is concentrated in very few hands.
And this is when actual food availability is still high. How much worse will it get when climate chaos takes away even that?
The big companies pay very little tax. Labour conditions on plantations are appalling. It’s a classic case of how a very productive country with high rates of exclusion, especially among the indigenous population, cannot feed its own people.”
Let’s bring that can-do attitude to America as well! What could possibly go wrong?
Trying to organise workers or demand better conditions is likely to result in death threats. Luis Fuentes, Guatemalan representative of the Danish food workers’ union 3F, describes typical conditions on the plantations – whether banana, sugar or palm – as “inhuman”. He too has received many death threats. In the sugar sector, unions were effectively dismantled in the 1970s, when leaders were persecuted and assassinated.
The ultimate wet dream of the Killionaire Koch Brothers, Chamber of Commerce, and their GOP enablers. Want a further glimpse into their libertarian Ayn Rand paradise?
Without exception, they said that joining a union would be a sackable offence that would lead to blacklisting. Even where top management has tried to put in place contracts or better conditions, usually under pressure from outside buyers, they said the managers in the field abuse workers. When auditors arrive, they are told what to say and given protective clothing for the day. Persistent allegations also emerged of a new phenomenon, of workers being given or taking stimulant drugs to help them through the pain of the punishing shifts.
Really though, excerpts can’t do this piece justice - one needs to read the whole thing. A terrifying look at the inevitable outcome of too much power and wealth in the hands of too few.