Although many Costa Ricans probably wouldn t suspect it, thousands of children spend their days working in the fields here rather than in the classroom, according to a video produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in coordination with the Labor Ministry and two workers unions: the Rerum Novarum Workers Confederation and the Organization of Costa Rican Workers Movements.
These organizations held a screening of the video Horizonte Cero ( Horizon Zero ) Tuesday at the National Auditorium in the National Children s Museum in San José.
The short video shows the harsh realities of the estimated 113,503 children ages 5-17 who work in Costa Rica. Those featured in the film work in agriculture in rural areas in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, the Caribbean-slope towns of Turrialba and Siquirres, and the southern Pacific area.
Many of these children are forced to abandon school to help their parents work in the fields doing tough manual labor, which often leads to accidents and injuries, the video explains.
As a country, we lack a level of awareness about this problem, said Vice-Minister of Labor Guillermo Matamoros. The video shows that these are children who want to seek a better future, and we are obligated to see to it that they have a better quality of life.
The title Horizonte Cero refers to the fact that children who work lack opportunities to break the cycle of poverty, explained the documentary s producer, Antonio Iglesias.
The Labor Ministry and the two unions involved in the project will be screening the video in schools, community centers, businesses and at parent gatherings to educate citizens about the need to create alternatives to child labor, said Labor Ministry social worker Marielos Chinchilla.