jueves, septiembre 02, 2004

LA ESCLAVITUD no ha desaparecido; sólo es menos visible:
Slaves are cheap these days. Their price is the lowest it's been in about 4,000 years. And right now the world has a glut of human slaves - 27 million by conservative estimates and more than at any time in human history.

Although now banned in every country, slavery has boomed in the past 50 years as the global population has exploded. A billion people scrape by on $1 a day. That extreme poverty combined with local government corruption and a global economy that leaps national boundaries has produced a surge in the number of slaves - even though in the developed world, that word conjures up the 19th century rather than the evening news.

"For an American audience, their conceptualization of slavery is locked into a picture from the past," says Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves (www.freetheslaves.net), a nonprofit in Washington. "It's fixed in the slavery of the deep South and it's about African-Americans being enslaved on plantations with chains and whips and so forth."

Modern-day slavery has little of the old South. Of those 27 million, the majority are bonded laborers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal - workers who have given their bodies as collateral for debts that never diminish no matter how many years, or sometimes generations, the enslaved labor on. Cooking the books is an early lesson for slaveholders.

[...] Part of the confusion about slavery, says Bales, is that it has evolved over the centuries and what we traditionally thought of as slavery - chattel slavery - looks very different these days. But the definition remains the same: "Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised" (Slavery Convention of the League of Nations, 1926).

In his book "Disposable People," Bales says ownership is no longer an attractive proposition for most slaveholders because the price of slaves is so low. In 1850, a slave would cost about $40,000 in today's dollars. Now, you can buy a slave for $30 in the Ivory Coast. The glut "has converted them from being the equivalent of buying a car to buying a plastic pen that you use and throw away," he says. That makes maintenance of the "investment" a low priority, and little care is taken for slaves' well-being.
Y, como escribía el otro día, existen unos condicionantes religiosos que no pueden obviarse, aunque sea políticamente incorrecto decirlo porque deja en mal lugar la religión preferida de la biempensantía.