They just lacked the shackles

With an exemplary ruling  the Federal Chamber of Cassation sentenced the textile entrepreneur Rina Ruíz Cerrón to five years in prison for reducing the servitude of a dozen Peruvian citizens, one of them disabled.

Under conditions typical of the nineteenth century. That is how a dozen Peruvian citizens, one of them disabled, worked in one of the thousands of clandestine workshops in Villa Celina, province of Buenos Aires. Caught in their country of origin with promises of progress and good salaries, the sewers came to the country with passages paid by their employer, which were later deducted from their salary in black. With their passports retained by the bosses, days of more than 10 hours, crowded in the same place of work, without keys of the property and salaries of 3500 pesos per month. For the Federal Chamber of Cassation, which sentenced Rina Ruíz Cerrón, head of the clandestine workshop located in Villa Celina, La Matanza, to five years in prison for facilitating the entry and stay in the country of a dozen workers for her labor exploitation. The ruling was issued by Chamber IV of the House when the acquittal was overturned by a federal oral court of San Martín in favor of Ruíz Cerrón. The court composed of the judges Gustavo Hornos, Mariano Borinsky and Juan Carlos Gemignani considered the arguments of the defense based on testimonies of the victims that indicated that they were all part of “a large family”, but stressed that the acquittal of the workshop was not held Consider the situation of “vulnerability” of Peruvians who, due to their “economic precariousness”, submitted to a “slave labor”.

The judges understood that the “situation of vulnerability of all victims operated as a key factor for acceptance” of those conditions, which were used by the accused “to work for her and thus obtain broad economic advantages that did not correspond to the retribution “he paid. “None of the victims claimed to have made an exit outside the workshop autonomously” and those who did on Sundays “were under the exclusive orbit” of the accused, added the court that noted that “food and shelter (which had ) are nothing more than basic budgets for exploitation “. In fact, the court found that the victims arrived in Argentina between 2013 and 2015, were unaware of the city of Buenos Aires or sites surrounding the building where they worked in conditions of slavery. “In the province, between 25 and 30 thousand sewers are in the same conditions and Villa Celina is a key epicenter because from there it is supplied not only to La Salada but also to major brands,” said Ezequiel Conde, a union delegate from SOHO and reference of the Union of Sewing Workers (UTC). Count celebrated the ruling but warned that, once again, a solution to the victims is not offered: “They only offer them tickets to return to their countries of origin, where they left precisely for lack of work.” At the same time, the leader demanded that the Justice advance against the “true responsible, that is to say, the marks that hire clandestine workshops to lower costs”. “The Work at Home law is clear and says that those who hire irregular companies are responsible for what happens, but Justice never advances.” Conde remarked that the industrial chambers themselves recognize that practically 80 percent of the production is distributed in the illegal market. “They say there are 450 thousand workers in the textile industry. Labor intensive, sewing, 250 to 280 thousand workers nationwide and the union has 19 thousand members. It is 75 or 80 percent that is outside of agreement. Big brands do not produce, outsource sewing, and then keep the highest percentage of profit. Here the responsible are the final marketers, “he concluded.

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