Friday, July 24, 2015

USFIA Update: Is USFIA involved in child labor exploitation of amber mines in Mexico?

Thanks to SierraMadreTattler, MLMSkeptic was recently made aware of an article published back in May 2015 that certain unnamed Chinese has been hiring anybody who can work (including children) in the tiny town of Simojovel, in Chiapas, Mexico, to mine amber. Children as young as 7 were hired to work in the amber mines, often during school breaks, with promise of pay of up to $500 pesos per day. Many even die in the mines.

But is there any link to USFIA? We don't know as USFIA does not specify if they use any Mexican amber. In fact, most of their amber mining references are about amber mining in Dominican Republic. However, since each affiliate prepare their own slides based on whatever sales meeting they attended at USFIA HQ, they often have additional insight, such as the one I found here:

USFIA affiliate states that Chen Yan, VP of USFIA, frequently travels to factory (mine?) in Mexico
and Dominican Republic, and stated their mine seems to be in a TINY village in Mexico. 
So here, we have an USFIA affiliate claiming (based on his attending USFIA HQ seminar) that no less than Chen Yan, Steve Chen's brother, visiting Mexico to check up on factory (mine?) of amber. And it's in a tiny village.

But what did the ORIGINAL Mexican news article say? It says that Chinese owners are cheating and smuggling and exploiting Mexicans in Mexico. Three years ago, Chinese arrived in the municipality of Simojovel, in Chiapas Mexico, which is about as far south in Mexico as you can get and still be in Mexico. They only stay in hotels and sometimes dine in the local Chinese restaurant, and NEVER visit the mines. Only their local intermediaries came out to the mines and buy up the best pieces.

The kids can't work INSIDE the mines, so what they do is they pick through the discarded rocks for amber that was overlooked. According to locals, a kid called Elias, 14, had just found a 900 g piece when he was crushed by a rock. Kids as young as 7 do the picking.

The area is also overran by the narco cartels who use the wilderness to grow marijuana. It's even rumored that the miners are hooked on cocaine and works 9 hours a day and pay for the coke with the mined amber.

While this is a sad story, let's keep in mind there is no proof that the Chinese in Simojovel were linked to USFIA, It's just a horribly "convenient" coincidence that such stories became... common.

Furthermore... It's worth noting that USFIA started in 2012/2013, which is... about 3 years ago.


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