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7/30: Prostitution and modern-day slavery in the Bush’s Florida

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    ACCORDING TO A RESEARCH CENTER Prostitution and modern-day slavery in the Bush’s Florida GRANMA INTERNATIONAL Havana. July 30, 2004
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2004
      Prostitution and modern-day slavery in the Bush’s Florida
      Havana. July 30, 2004

      MODERN-DAY slavery is very much alive in Florida, according
      to a report from Center for the Advancement of Human Rights
      at Florida State University, which describes the tragic
      situation of thousands of people forced to work as
      prostitutes, farm workers and maids.”

      Human traffickers bring thousands of people to the United
      States every year and it is believed that Florida is one of
      the three main destinations of these slavery operations,
      with New York and Texas, the research center affirms

      The center cites the cases of hundreds of agricultural
      laborers, of 40 women from Mexico forced to work as
      prostitutes in an organized network, as well as the case of
      a girl used as a slave by a rich family.

      Robin Thompson, the project’s director, states that to
      enter places where such inhuman practices are being
      developed, one has to seek the economic sectors where there
      is a demand for a cheap labor force.

      In its research, the center discovered that many of the
      traffickers’ victims are immigrants who, because of their
      poverty and lack of knowledge of English are exploited by
      criminal elements. U.S. citizens living in extreme poverty,
      or homeless people, drug addicts or those on the run are
      vulnerable to a similar fate.

      According to the U.S. authorities, 18,000-20.000 victims of
      neo-slavery have been brought to the United States.

      Last month, Marie Pompee, a woman whose family was charged
      with keeping a young Haitian girl as a household slave for
      three years in Fort Lauderdale, pleaded guilty to the
      offense. The national press stated that the young immigrant
      had been raped on various occasions by Pompee’s son.

      The girl was 12 when police officers found her in the
      family’s $400,000 house in the exclusive Pembroke Pines
      district. They affirmed that she was half starved, slept on
      the floor and was the victim of sexual abuse.

      From 2001-2003, 106 persons have been charged with human
      trafficking, 74 of them through abuse of a sexual nature.

      Many things are going on in Florida, Mohamed Matar,
      coordinator of the Protection Project, a research group at
      Johns Hopkins University in Washington informed the St.
      Petersburg Times. Given its geographical position, tourist
      market and conferences there is a demand for prostitution.

      According to experts, woman and children are brought to the
      United States and forced into prostitution. Some of them
      end up in brothels serving undocumented migrant farm
      workers at harvest periods.

      In 1999, two brothers, Ramiro and Juan Ramos, were charged
      with importing thousands of illegal workers, selling them
      as agricultural laborers to large farms throughout the
      southeast. In 2002 they were sentenced to 12 years’

      José Tecum, a resident in Collier county, kidnapped a
      Guatemalan girl whom he forced to work in the tomato fields
      and violated her many times. He received a nine-year prison

      Six Florida brothels were closed down by the FBI in 1997.
      The women in them, mostly Mexican, had been lured by
      promises of good jobs. On their arrival, they were beaten,
      raped and forced to work as prostitutes for 12 hours per
      day, with up to 20 or 30 clients each.

      Just one of those charged, Rogelio Cadena, admitted his
      guilt in a West Palm Beach court and was handed down a
      15-year sentence.

      George Collins, a detective in Okaloosa county who has been
      investigating cases of slavery in the Panhandle sector for
      one year, told the St. Petersburg Times that he had
      discovered hundreds of people from Eastern Europe working
      90-hour weeks in beach hotels, monitored by specialized
      agencies maintaining them in conditions of forced labor.

      This situation is so scandalous that, with a view to the
      November elections, the state authorities have announced a
      series of measures that should permit it to attack what is
      apparently an out-of-control problem with more efficiency.

      This is occurring in the state of Jeb Bush, where President
      George W. Bush recently claimed that Cuba was a sexual
      tourism destination in a speech that was so gross that the
      press itself refuted it.

      Even The Miami Herald, whose pages of classified ads daily
      offer bodyguard services, deemed it necessary to readjust
      the sights of a president who, in order to pass over his
      anti-family measures, has decided to cast slander on the
      land of origin of tens of thousands of voters. (Jean-Guy

      A childhood of pain
      Havana. July 30, 2004
      Granma International staff writer

      ONE of the first written references to the trafficking and
      sexual abuse of children dates back to 1437, when a family
      in Basle, the incipient urban center of Europe in the
      Middle Ages, was expelled for having “rented out” their
      nine-year-old daughter for dishonorable purposes. Many
      centuries later, similar news, whether regarding
      prostitution, pornography or slave labor, continues to

      While cases like the above-mentioned continue to be
      reported not-so-sporadically in the most diverse police
      stations of the world, the main responsibility for such
      abominable and monstrous practices currently falls on
      organized, profitable and transnational business.

      The International Organization for Migration (IOM)
      confirmed in July of this year that every year, 600,000 to
      800,000 people are snatched from their countries of origin
      and subjected to slave labor or to conditions reminiscent
      of the times of the starkest colonialism. Some 17,000 of
      those people suffer that fate in the United States,
      considered by the IOM to be the prime “promoter of human
      trafficking.” However, a more profound analysis of that
      developed country’s links with child prostitution, forced
      labor and even the sale of human organs, likewise by the
      IOM, reveals that it is the headquarters of many
      traffickers of male and female children.

      According to Fanny Polonia, an expert at that agency, the
      crime of human trafficking associated with the sexual
      exploitation of children is a problem that is growing under
      the cloak of poverty and lack of opportunity, which creates
      a breeding ground for people– boys and girls as well – to
      be converted into merchandise.”

      Unscrupulous merchants are aided by the objective reality
      of the countries of such children, in which extreme poverty
      prevails – at times, at a rate of 40-60% – is the case in
      Central America and the Southern Cone nations of this

      In that region, the Economic Commission for Latin America
      (ECLA) notes that in 2002 there were some 87 million
      indigent people and nearly 120 million children and
      adolescents up to the age of 19 living much under the
      poverty level.

      Using everything from scholarships to “solve” an
      unsatisfactory daily life to dirty tricks regarding
      emigration papers to unite families in the United States,
      the gangs snare their victims.

      Thus, and in the interest of sending out an SOS to the
      entire planet, the United Nations has convened a meeting in
      Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, for October of this
      year, against sexual exploitation and human trafficking,
      especially of children.

      Despite the United States being included among the 117
      countries that signed an international agreement to protect
      children against abuse, many voices are questioning whether
      its authorities have a genuine and lasting commitment to
      keep its lands from being a paradise for those evildoers.

      One emblematic example of that were the operations in
      Houston by a group of Salvadoran child traffickers who,
      starting 1994 were able to enter U.S. soil with hundreds of
      boys and girls from El Salvador and Guatemala. They
      functioned until August of 2002 when the Immigration and
      Naturalization Service (INS) caught them.

      And more recently, on July 21 this year, also in the United
      States, a member of a gang that was dismantled after being
      accused of child trafficking informed the AP news agency
      that he illegally obtained 200 passports at a post office
      in western Chicago. Each document was sold for about $300.

      Likewise, Carmen Hernández, a Latina, said that she was in
      that “business” for 10 years and used to bring children
      from Ecuador.

      The misuse of a means of communication as important as the
      Internet should be added. In spite of its potential for
      helping people on one side of the planet to communicate
      with the other, the exploitation of children via its
      channels is a fact.

      A 2003 study by the U.S. Justice Department bluntly
      revealed that one of every five children between the age of
      10-17 in the United States had received undesired sexual
      propositions via cyberspace. And in the U.S. just that
      year, some 200,000 incidents of child pornography were
      reported, considered to be a very conservative estimate by
      some experts.

      The Dominican Republic and Colombia signed a cooperation
      agreement to protect victims and witnesses to the illegal
      treatment of persons, above all children, in return for
      helping the police. Nevertheless, this is just a palliative
      measure. Thus, in those societies, public opinion is
      demanding greater state protection for children, not just
      in terms of domestic law and international customs, but
      also by approving health, education and recreation plans
      for children, considered elemental, given that they are the

      The buying and selling of minors and their subsequent
      introduction into the lucrative international sex market
      produces profits of more than $5 billion. The top
      destinations for this “merchandise” are the industrialized
      nations, with the United States in the lead.

      The offers range from exotic young samba dancers from
      Brazil to indigenous youngsters from Guatemala and Mexican
      teenagers. In the case of the first, UNICEF praised the
      Zero Hunger Program initiated by the government of Luis
      Inacio Lula da Silva, given that it is now also part of a
      larger project against poverty. In any case, the effort
      needed to rescue that country’s 500,000 child prostitutes
      must be a long-term one.

      In Mexico, especially in the federal district, Mexico City,
      a serious endeavor has been undertaken to not tolerate such
      abuse, closely linked to the so-called “street children.”

      The legislative assembly in that city approved a
      modification of the Law on the Rights of Girls and Boys as
      a way of checking the exploitation, segregation,
      mistreatment and prostitution experienced by more than
      14,300 street children.

      Another factor to be considered in regional prevention is
      the complications arising from sexual transmitted diseases
      and AIDS. Approximately 50-80% of boys and girls forced to
      traffic their bodies are infected with the Human
      Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

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