Argentinean Blueberry Committee condemns slave labor operators
"The ABC condemns such acts and of course is against slave labor, underage labor and violence," committee manager Inés Peláez told www.freshfruitportal.com.
"Our message to the entire industry is that we are absolutely against these practices and we will do our best to combat them."
The message comes as further details have been brought to light about the blueberry farm and packinghouse in San Andrés de Giles, with the number of slave workers revised down to 91.
Security Vice-Minister Cristina Caamaño told broadcaster Canal 7 the people were forced to work 12 hours a day, every day.
"85 people were found in the farm, because six of them escaped. They were the ones who could make the complaint," she said.
"The people came from Oberá, Misiones. They came in a bus and when they arrived they were put under gunpoint. They were taken to the farm in San Andres de Giles that was difficulte to locate, in fact an air squad helicopter from the police had to be used to find the exact location because it was difficult to access.
"On the farm they grew and packed blueberries. People that arrived there, 20 days before they were rescued, were forced to work from Monday to Monday and 12 hours daily. Each one had to collect 25kg of blueberries."
She said the enslaved workers slept in bunks with 15 people per room, had three bathrooms and all kitchens were in poor hygienic condition.
"There were five armed men who guarded them. They could not leave the farm."
Related story: Slave labor case rocks Buenos Aires blueberry operation