by John Hawkins | March 11, 2008 7:00 am
Here’s Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric on trade,
“Hillary will require that all future trade agreements contain strong and enforceable labor and environmental provisions in the core of the agreement. These provisions will elevate labor and environmental standards around the world, protecting our workers from a race to the bottom.” — From a Hillary Clinton press release called, Hillary Clinton’s Trade Agenda, on Feb 19, 2008
Now, here’s what that high minded, utopian rhetoric looks like in practice,
A team from Brazil’s Labor Ministry found “degrading” living conditions for 133 sugarcane workers employed by an ethanol company whose investors include former President Clinton and other high-profile financial players.
At five sites inspected, workers “complained they were suffering from hunger and cold, and all of the locations were overcrowded and with terrible sanitary conditions,” according to a statement issued Friday by Jaqueline Carrijo, who led the inspections last month.
…Clinton’s connection is via an investment in Brenco by The Yucaipa Cos., a U.S.-based fund in which Clinton was a senior advisor until last year. His investment in Brenco is valued between $15,001 and $50,000, according to a financial disclosure report submitted last year by his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.×
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…Bill Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna said that the former president’s investment made via Yucaipa was small but that he had been assured Brenco was “committed to the highest ethical standard with regard to the treatment of its workforce and of the environment.”
…The Brazilian labor probe focused mostly on living conditions for the workers, including 17 who were paying rent to live in housing overrun by rats and cockroaches, Carrijo said. In addition, trucks lacked special seatbelts for workers who ride atop the vehicles as they throw sugarcane seedlings to the ground, she said.
…While cane cutters receive good salaries by Brazilian standards, they spend long hours in the hot sun and suffer a litany of bone and muscle injuries and machete cuts. Their eyes and lungs are punished by ash from working in fields recently burned to facilitate cutting and to kill off rats, snakes and scorpions.
Hillary isn’t content to just look out for American workers, oh no, she’s going to actually “elevate labor and environmental standards around the world.”
Meanwhile, she’s actually investing in a place where they starve people and have them living in housing, “overrun by rats and cockroaches.”
Might I suggest that this, ehr — let’s call it a wee gap — between Hillary’s rhetoric and reality probably exists on quite a number of different issues beyond trade. There’s what Hillary says and then there’s what Hillary does and oftentimes, those two things have very little to do with each other.
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