Do you ever think about people from the past you wish you could go back in time to meet? At the top or near the top of my list is César Chávez, who was born on March 31 in 1927. César died in 1993 a few months before I started working for a farmworker organization, the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP).
I bet you knew that a 12-year-old cannot legally buy cigarettes in the US. But did you know that it’s legal in America for the same 12-year-old can work in a tobacco field for 10- to 12- hours a day in 100-degree heat and suffer repeated bouts of nicotine poisoning.
For several years, the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which NCL co-chairs with the American Federation of Teachers, has worked closely with the Cotton Campaign to reduce child labor and forced child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest. Uzbekistan, run by totalitarian dictator Islam Karimov, is the only country in the world where the central government has recently played a major role in causing large-scale forced child labor.
Imagine you are a child, age 13, 14, or 15. Gang members in your school are threatening to beat, kidnap, or kill you. They want money, but you are poor. They threaten to harm you and your family if you don’t pay them large sums of money. There is no way for you to obtain those sums. This is the situation faced by increasing numbers of teens living in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as gangs spread throughout their countries.