More than 1.6 million Colombian children between 5 and 17 years old perform labor. 787
thousand work actual jobs the national government says, but it is
forgetting another 841 thousand who perform labor in and around the
house, the International Labor Organization (ILO) says.
Colombia’s main labor union CUT says it is worried about the high number of children. According to the union, children are neglecting their education to perform all kinds of jobs. “In street vending, in wholesale, in shops, in the field, in the mines and the small and medium sized manufacturing companies” children can be found trying to make their family’s ends meet, CUT vice-president Gustavo Triana told Caracol Radio.
According to Triana, the economic situation in the country is forcing many parents to send their children off to work.
Drug trafficking and the war against illegal armed groups “directly and indirectly” is making the situation in Colombia worse, both the CUT and ILO agree. “The violence is another thing that generates child labor (…) and manifests itself mainly in begging, the sales of products at traffic light and even child assassins,” Jorge Albin, director of the CUT told french Press agency AFP.
Children are also subject to (forced) recruitment by the illegal armed forces and drug gangs. “There is no exact figure, but estimates differ between 5,000 and 8,000” minors that make up part of the illegal armed groups’ ranks, national coordinator in the fight against child labor of the ILO said.
According to the ILO, the social and economic development of a country is linked to the amount of children performing child labor. For this reason Colombia is doing worse than other Latin countries like Brasil, Argentina and Chile, but better than Bolivia and Peru.