CHIAPAS, MEXICO.- Chinese dealers has recently set their attention upon Chiapas potential mines, were amber and manpower are abundant, specially when it comes to hiring children for the extraction of said jewel.
Adults and children are being hired by Chinese people in Simojovel, Chiapas for the illegal extraction of amber, "right beside the hidden and protected drug plantations of poppy and marijuana", mentioned journalist Javier Brandoli during an article for El Mundo.
"There are all kinds of economic arraignments. Mines are usually exploited by their owners, some rented them out for months and others hire workers which get paid $150 a day", explained one of the interviews.
"Within the mines there is also child labour," added Brandoli after narrating a case of a 14 year old boy, who extracted a 900 g stone, and was later crushed to death while trying to leave the mine.
In spite of these critical, unsafe and in many occasions poorly paid conditions, these Chinese men also hire children starting at 7 years of age, specially during school breaks. Elias, a middle school student, mentions he started working since he was nine. The majority of children arrive with the promise of earning of to $500 pesos per day, if the collect enough amber.
"Chinese men arrived in the state about three years ago and started buying raw amber, the kind that doesn't have any stains. Prices went up and people willing to work inside the mines started to appear. A work day usually runs for 4 hours but now they work up to 9 hours per day, given that most of the workers are on cocaine which is paid for with the jewels they find" mentioned one of the miners.
Chinese 'entrepreneurs' are rarely seen at the Simojovel village. Workers mention that their employers live 'locked up in the same hotel' and the they only come out once in a while, to dine at some Chinese restaurant.
Simojovel is a village that recently went under the public eye due to the case of two children who passed away after they received a vaccine and had a bad reaction.
With Simojovel under the radar, journalist Javier Brandoli decided to dig deeper into the case and show how exploitation affects the children working inside the mines.
According to a report from Sin Embargo, there is no data confirming any action taken by the Federal Government in order to solve the mafia created in the region.