“It is not there are too many sweatshops, but that there are too few… these are precisely the jobs that have come to Africa to get them out of back-breaking rural poverty.”
-Jeffrey Sachs, quoted in Naomi Klein’s No Logo
Yomanuel worked in a zona franca in the capital for a time, making jeans. He said that he could make good money, up to 2000 pesos, or about US$60, weekly when he worked a lot of extra hours. His wife, Miguelina is originally from the capital, and has had a hard time getting used to life in the campo. She concedes, though, that in the campo there are always viveres to eat – food’s expensive in the city.
60-something Juana is both the sole bread-winner and bread-baker in her household of 3, i.e. she both plants and harvests the viveres and then cooks them up for dinner, sustaining herself, her 3-year-old granddaughter, and her 90-something uncle. She has children who work in factories in the outskirts of the capital. She maintains that they rarely have much to send her way.
73-year-old Manuel swings a machete like a man half his age. But at the end of the day, he comes home with the aches and pains of the 73-year old he is. He recently visited a doctor. The 300 peso doctor visit was reasonably affordable. The thousands of pesos needed for the medication he prescribed was not. Manuel sold one of his mules the other day – said he has no use for it since he has another one. The next day, he finally bought the medication prescribed to him. Manuel and Marina’s two sons both live in Santiago. One of their sons has been limited in his capacity to work since a car accident rendered one of his hands unusable a number of years ago. Manuel says that his cacao crop is helping put some of his grandchildren through school. Their other son is an electrician whose work has been inconsistent of late – there’s not a lot of construction going on right now. He said he’s thinking of taking a possible job in Haiti – skilled work swimming against the prevailing immigration current. Manuel also takes care of his 94-year-old mother, the matriarch of a family of 5 surviving generations. Manuel says he’ll be cutting cacao ‘til the day he dies.