You see the headlines about the US-Mexico border on a daily basis: Asylum seekers, guest workers, and other international migrants are seeking safety and a chance to break out of a cycle of poverty by coming to the United States. Yet for all the exposure these stories receive, there is little explanation of who these people are and why they take their risky journeys. This story offers supply chain professionals a clear context and understanding of how promoting compliance with national laws and corporate supply chain standards can directly impact the lives of these vulnerable populations.
Verité has previously carried out research on labor conditions in coffee and palm oil production in Guatemala, and has generally found workers employed in agriculture, including sugar production, in Latin America to be highly vulnerable to exploitation, including labor trafficking. While there have been no recent in-depth studies on worker vulnerability to labor trafficking in the Guatemalan sugar sector, Verité findings from previous research in the Guatemalan agricultural sector and reports from other organizations that have carried out research in other Central American countries indicated a high level of risk among Guatemalan sugarcane harvesters. Therefore, Verité chose to carry out research in the Guatemalan sugar sector.