Illegal logging in the Peruvian rainforest generates millions of profits. But an ILO report found that more than 30 thousand workers, many of them indigenous people, are victims of forced labour, living in appalling conditions and often tricked into debt with their employers.

Date issued: 18 May 2005 | Size/duration: 00:02:03 (3.63 MB)
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Isidoro has spent his life chopping down mahogany and cedar trees in the Amazon Rain Forest. The lumber is worth millions on the open market but for Isidoro, its value is lost in a never-ending cycle of debt.


I have always worked solely for barter for perhaps a bar of soap, kerosene, salt, a cartridge, or a shirt. I have never been able to rise above that.

According to a new report from the International Labour Office, over 33,000 indigenous people are victims of forced labour who work in illegal camps where they live in sub-human conditions.

Eduardo Bedoya-Garland: International Labour Organization

Native workers have no other option but to accept the offer of goods or advanced payments from bonders and may not sell their products or labour while indebted to other people. That is to say, an originally free labour force becomes forced labour.

Belen, the last frontier before the virgin rain forest. Many unscrupulous business men come here to trick workers into a cycle of debt from which they cannot escape.

Abraham Guevara, who is working to free indigenous people from debt bondage explains the chains of entrapment.

Abraham Guevara

Here we have the concessionary who previously held the lumber permit. Here, the storeowner who bonds with food supplies, with tools, with an electric-saw. At the same time, he sub-bonds this gentleman, and this gentleman is who looks for workers in the communities.

According to the ILO, illegal logging generates over 75 million dollars per year in profits. Profits that not only exploit the natural resources of the Amazon but just as cruelly, the lives of those who toil in its wake.