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TITLE:  ARGENTINA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                           
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                       ARGENTINA


Argentina is a federal, constitutional democracy with about 
33 million inhabitants.  The President, Carlos Saul Menem of 
the Justicialist (Peronist) Party, was elected in 1989 through 
an electoral college for a single 6-year term.  The Constitution
provides for a bicameral legislature and an independent 
judiciary.  The executive traditionally is the dominant branch 
at the federal level.  Since the end of military rule in 1983, 
there have been two national presidential elections as well as 
numerous midterm elections for Congress and provincial 
governments, the most recent in October 1993.  President Menem 
is not now eligible for reelection in 1995; however, efforts 
were being made to amend the Constitution to allow for a second 
consecutive term.  

The President is the constitutional commander in chief, and a 
civilian Defense Minister oversees the armed forces.  
Responsibility for maintaining law and order is shared by the 
Federal Police, which report to the Interior Minister; the 
Border Police and the Coast Guard, which report to the Defense 
Minister; and the provincial police reporting to provincial 
governments.  There were continued abuses of police authority 
in 1993, although fewer than in previous years.  

Argentina has a mixed agricultural, industrial, and service 
economy that grew rapidly and experienced significant changes.  
An economic reform program is intended to convert a centrally 
controlled economy into one more responsive to market forces.  
The program reduced inflation dramatically by sharply 
increasing revenue collection, fixing the exchange rate, 
privatizing virtually all major state enterprises, and opening 
the economy to vigorous competition from imports.  These 
changes forced the business community to increase productivity 
in order to stay competitive, often through significant 
investment in labor-saving technology.

The Constitution provides for a wide range of freedoms and 
guarantees.  Nevertheless, institutional weaknesses, political 
partisanship, government failure to punish human rights 
violators, and the legacy of authoritarian rule resulted in 
failure to protect individual rights fully.  This was 
particularly true in the case of extrajudicial killings, often 
committed with impunity, and instances of police brutality.  
There were also many threats and incidents of aggression 
against the media, as well as attempts to monitor ideological 
activities of students and others.  Societal violence against 
women continued to be a problem, with little visible effort by 
the Government to combat it.  The Government failed to comply 
with a law that calls for indemnification of those who suffered 
torture or detention during military rule.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Extrajudicial Killing

There were no credible reports of politically motivated 
killings carried out by government forces in 1993.  Police were 
involved, however, in a number of extrajudicial killings, often 
with impunity.  

In Cordoba, an internal investigation of the death in 1989 of a 
taxi driver revealed in February that two police officers who 
had tried to extort money from the driver had killed him.  The 
two were arrested and remanded to a civilian court pending 
trial.  An off-duty policeman working as a security guard at a 
discotheque killed a 14-year-old boy in Haedo, Buenos Aires 
province.  In nearby Quilmes, two Bolivian boys were shot and 
killed by a policeman as they exited a church.  Legal action 
was initiated against both policemen.  The efficacy of legal 
actions of this nature varies widely, however, depending on the 
court within whose jurisdiction the case falls, the attitude of 
local authorities, and the efficacy of police internal review 
mechanisms.

The 1991 murder of Radical Party politician Regino Maders was 
still not resolved by the end of 1993, although ex-police 
sergeant Carlos Guidone was arrested in February on suspicion 
of involvement in the case.  Maders was thought to have been 
killed because of his investigation into alleged corruption in 
the privatization of a provincial electric utility company.  
There were credible reports of attempts to intimidate witnesses 
in the case, and of political interference with the 
investigation.

     b.  Disappearances

Unresolved disappearances that may have been attributable to 
the police took place in 1993.  On August 17, Miguel Bru 
disappeared shortly after he filed a complaint for abuse of 
authority against the La Plata police for raiding his home 
without a search warrant.  Bru's parents attempted 
unsuccessfully to register his disappearance, but the police 
refused to accept the report.  It was finally accepted at the 
police station where Bru's father worked.  A judicial inquiry 
has commenced.  

In the 1992 disappearance of Pablo Guardati, who was reportedly 
abducted by four policemen in Mendoza and seen in police 
custody by a witness 73 days later, a body was positively 
identified as that of Guardati in June.  The 4 policemen most 
directly involved were detained for questioning; 10 officers 
involved in the coverup were reassigned, and 4 officers were 
charged with attempting to pay bribes for false testimony.

Hundreds of children whose biological parents disappeared 
during the 1976-83 military dictatorship were--either 
innocently or fraudulently--adopted by others.  Largely as a 
result of pressure from the "Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo" 
group, a National Commission on the Right to Identity was 
created in the Interior Ministry in November 1992.  According 
to this group, in 1993 there were still some 500 children whose 
true identity had not been established or restored.  In the 
case of the Reggiardo-Tolosa twins, fraudulently adopted by 
police officer Samuel Miara and his wife after their biological 
parents were murdered, a federal court nullified the adoption; 
charged Miara with falsification of official documents; 
canceled their fraudulent birth certificates and other 
documents; and in May ordered that their true surname be 
restored.  Miara is serving a sentence for fraud and the twins 
were temporarily housed in a foster home in anticipation of a 
custody award to their biological relatives.  

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits torture and the Criminal Code 
provides penalties for torture which are similar to those for 
homicide, from 8 to 15 years in prison.  The level of reported 
incidents of police brutality, particularly directed against 
young men, declined somewhat from 1992.  At the same time, 
disciplinary and legal action against police officers accused 
of beating and killing youths continued.  In mid-July the 
Secretary for Security of Buenos Aires province announced broad 
new measures to control the police and improve their image.  As 
a result, at least 1,000 provincial police were separated from 
the force.


In Rosario, Santa Fe province, two police officers were 
suspended from the force during the investigation of charges 
that they had tried to extort money from two youths, aged 19 
and 15, and, failing in their objective, beat them and shot at 
them.  In addition, an internal police investigation of the two 
officers' actions was pursued.  At Villa Carlos Paz, near 
Cordoba, two police were arrested in March for torturing a 
suspect during interrogation, and a third officer was suspended 
for covering up the crime.  

Prison conditions vary widely, but on the whole are acceptable.
Many of the facilities are old, and some are dilapidated and 
crowded, but the primary complaints seemed to be the lack of 
fresh fruit and vegetables in some facilities.  Conjugal visits 
are permitted in some prisons, depending upon the facilities 
available.  Abuse of prisoners by guards is punished in at 
least some cases.  In Santa Fe, in April, 12 guards were 
suspended and tried for abusing 4 prisoners.  

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Although the Penal Code contains explicit protections for 
individual rights and places limits on the arrest and 
investigatory powers of the police and judiciary, the laws are 
often ignored and meaningful sanctions seldom applied against 
those who break them.

The Interior Ministry conducted courses for public officials 
designed to heighten awareness about human rights issues, and 
the Justice Ministry attempted to educate the public about the 
legal rights of detainees.  The Government created an ombudsman 
to oversee the observance of individual rights in the prison 
system.

A December 1991 law provided compensation (in government bonds) 
for those who were illegally detained and held by the executive 
or the armed forces during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.  
The Interior Ministry has approved 4,000 of the 8,300 requests 
submitted for indemnity payments.  The lengthy process produced 
many complaints from those people who believe themselves 
entitled to compensation.  The Supreme Court is responsible for 
settling disputes over the amount of compensation. 

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution and Penal Code call for trials before panels 
of judges using written presentations and for appellate review 
of all judicial rulings.  The system of oral public trials in 
penal cases, instituted in September 1992, functioned on a 
partial basis in 1993.  Once fully implemented and funded, oral 
trials may significantly accelerate rulings in the judicial 
process.  The right to bail is provided by law and recognized 
in practice.

While the judicial system is independent and impartial in 
theory, there were continued allegations that the executive 
branch exercised undue influence on the courts.  Growing public 
awareness of the shortcomings of the system, which is slow and 
cumbersome, had an impact on official actions.  The first oral 
tribunal in the federal capital freed a young man accused of 
robbery in June because he had not been notified by the 
prosecutor of his right to refuse to testify against himself.  
In one notorious case of a prisoner who was detained for 7 years
without ever having been convicted of a crime, the detainee was 
released in July.

The independence and indeed, the physical safety, of judges were
also affected by threats and attacks on their persons.  There 
is credible reason to believe such attacks were sometimes 
perpetrated by the police or the military.  A federal judge in 
La Plata who had been investigating the involvement of military 
personnel in a band of highwaymen was threatened and his 
daughter was almost kidnaped.  Unknown persons sent the judge a 
series of photographs showing his mother, his daughter, and his 
house.  The house of a judge in Lomas de Zamora (Buenos Aires 
province) was fired upon by unknown individuals in July, and 
provincial authorities acknowledged that virtually all of the 
federal judges working in the province have received threats at 
one time or another.  Two judges, one in Parana (Entre Rios 
province) and one in Rosario, received threats related to 
trials of corrupt police officers and narcotics traffickers.  
The Government's response to these threats was to offer police 
protection while investigating the incidents.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Although prohibited by the Constitution from doing so, the 
Government sometimes intruded into the lives of private 
citizens.  With the privatization and modernization of the 
telephone service, denunciations of telephone tapping 
diminished.  However, reports continue of illegal monitoring by 
government agencies and private entities.  The Government 
reserves the right to monitor telephones in special cases, with 
a court order.  An October 1992 presidential decree assigned 
the State Intelligence Secretariat (SIDE) supervision of 
judicially ordered telephone taps, replacing an office that 
existed in the formerly state-owned telephone company.  A 
federal judge questioned the decision to place this authority 
within the national executive.  

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

In its September 1992 presentation to the Inter-American Press 
Society meeting in Madrid, the National Editors and Publishers 
Association (ADEPA) characterized that year as the worst year 
for freedom of expression since the return of democracy in 
1983.  The problems that characterized 1992 continued in 1993.  
The most serious problem in the area of freedom of expression 
was the heightened level of threats and overt aggression 
against reporters, radio and television stations, media 
personalities, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

Two journalists were attacked physically, one on two 
occasions.  Marcelo Bonelli, a reporter for Clarin and Radio 
Mitre who was investigating the activities of government drug 
"Czar" Alberto Lestelle, was assaulted by two men on his way to 
the radio station.  Then Deputy Interior Minister Gerardo Conte 
Grand admitted that the attack was probably part of an 
"intimidation campaign," while President Menem condemned the 
attack, denied any official involvement, but improbably 
attributed the incident to those who wanted to make the 
Government look bad.  

The second case involved journalist Hernan Lopez Echague of 
Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12.  He was investigating reports 
that a gang of thugs operating out of Buenos Aires' central 
market was being used to mobilize support for Peronists and to 
intimidate opponents.  Lopez Echague was first attacked by two 
men on August 25.  On August 30, Interior Minister Carlos 
Ruckauf announced that two men had been arrested on suspicion 
of carrying out the attack.  They were released 2 days later, 
however, after Lopez Echague was unable to make a positive 
identification.  In statements to the press they accused the 
police of planting incriminating evidence on them at the time 
of their arrest.  

Lopez Echague was attacked a second time on September 9 in a 
Buenos Aires suburb.  Two men forced him into a car where, with 
the help of a third, they bludgeoned him unconscious.  He was 
then driven several blocks and dumped.  President Menem and 
government officials strongly condemned both attacks and 
attributed them to unspecified enemies of the Government who 
were attempting to undermine its support prior to the October 
elections.  An alleged witness provided the license plate 
number of the vehicle used by the assailants.  A search of 
provincial records revealed that a similar automobile was 
registered to the Buenos Aires provincial government, but 
records indicated that it had not been used the night of the 
attack.  The credibility of the witness was questioned, and 
President Menem appointed a Special Prosecutor to investigate 
the case, but as of year's end the identity of Lopez Echague's 
assailants was unknown.

President Menem ordered the government television station to 
restore a political commentary program which had been canceled 
by station managers after it revealed unflattering aspects of 
the Government's purchase of a new presidential aircraft.  A 
federal court absolved the producers of the satiric television 
program "Peor Es Nada" of libel charges brought by a military 
officer who alleged that he had been defamed by a comedy 
program about Argentine participation in the Persian Gulf war.  
In March, in a suit brought by the Government related to an 
investigation into the adulteration of wine, a federal judge 
ruled that it is not unlawful for journalists to interview a 
fugitive from justice and that a journalist who refuses to 
reveal his sources is not guilty of concealment.  Finally, in 
May the Senate repealed a statute penalizing offenses against 
the dignity of a public official.

The number of reported telephone threats increased during the 
June to October pre-electoral period.  Journalists working for 
the newsmagazine Somos, for Buenos Aires daily La Nacion, for a 
television station in Quilmes, for the newspaper La Manana in 
Formosa province, for Radio Continental and the television 
station Telefe in Buenos Aires, for El Cronista in Buenos 
Aires, and for the daily La Capital in Rosario, all received 
telephone threats.  A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an FM 
station in Buenos Aires, and a similar transmitter in Santiago 
del Estero province was deliberately burned.  A journalist in 
Salta was arrested in April and a tape that she had made during 
an interview with a public official was confiscated by police.  
A print media journalist's car was firebombed in Buenos Aires 
in May, and a reporter for Clarin had his camera snatched from 
him and smashed by an unidentified person in June.


A government initiative in June was widely condemned as an 
effort to muzzle the independent press.  An official communique 
announced the Government's intention to seek a new radio 
broadcasting law; to license new television stations; to 
enforce legal provisions regarding broadcast transmissions; to 
ensure equal access to newsprint; and to enforce antimonopoly 
laws.  The communique asserted that the Government's objective 
was to prevent the kind of monopoly over information that 
characterized Argentina before the return to democracy in 1983.

The media reaction was immediate and negative.  ADEPA and the 
Inter-American Press Society expressed concern.  The day after 
the communique appeared, two of President Menem's ministers 
denied that the Government was seeking to control the media.  
Although the President reiterated his plans to send legislation 
to Congress that would impose limitations on radio 
broadcasting, no bill was sent by year's end.  

Academic freedom was generally respected, but in June the press 
reported that the provincial police ordered the gathering of 
information on student political activities and ideologies.  
Evidence of similar attempts to gather information on student 
activities subsequently surfaced in several other locales of 
Buenos Aires province and in the provinces of Neuquen, 
Corrientes, Misiones, Cordoba, and Tucuman.  Then Interior 
Minister Gustavo Beliz testified that the order to update 
intelligence files had been issued under his predecessor and 
was a "bureaucratic mistake." 

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution and laws provide for the right of groups and 
political parties to assemble and demonstrate.  Retirees, 
public school teachers, students, gay rights groups, farmers, 
political activists, and other organizations exercised this 
right, generally without interference.  Nevertheless, local 
authorities sometimes interpreted these constitutional 
protections restrictively, as in the case of 25 members of a 
government workers union who were detained briefly in Jujuy 
province in September for demonstrating in demand of better 
wages.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for the free exercise of religion but 
gives the Roman Catholic Church a privileged position in 
society.  Only a Roman Catholic may be elected President, and 
many institutions are, in practice, closed to Jews.  
Missionaries are free to proselytize, provided they register 
with the Secretariat of Worship in the Foreign Ministry.  The 
number of Protestant and evangelical groups has risen.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Documented international travel, internal travel, and 
emigration remained unrestricted.  

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

For over a decade Argentina has held periodic, free elections 
to choose federal, provincial, and local officials.  Universal, 
adult suffrage is obligatory in national elections.  The 
Constitution and Civil Code provide for full participation in 
the national political process, regardless of sex, ethnic 
background, or national origin.  Although President Menem was 
ineligible for reelection in 1995, efforts were being made to 
amend the Constitution to, among other changes, allow for a 
second consecutive term.

A 1991 law mandating that 30 percent of the candidates on party 
lists be women was in force for the October 1993 legislative 
elections.  In late September, the Supreme Court ruled that a 
female candidate for the Chamber of Deputies for Entre Rios 
province should be ranked high enough on the Peronist party 
list of candidates to give her reasonable assurance, based on 
the number of deputies that the party returned in the 1991 
elections, that she would be elected.  The October elections 
saw 26 women elected for the first time to the Chamber of 
Deputies.  One female deputy was reelected, and seven female 
deputies continue to serve the balance of terms to which they 
were elected 2 years before.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Local human rights monitoring groups operate freely without 
government restriction or interference.  The Ministry of the 
Interior has a Sub-Secretary for Human Rights.  Among the 
measures designed to control police abuses and improve their 
image are special courses on human rights issues organized by 
the Ministry and the creation in early December of a national 
ombudsman or people's defender.  There were no requests by 
international or nongovernmental organizations to investigate 
human rights abuses in 1993, but the Government has been 
cooperative in this regard.  

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Sex, Race, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of the above 
criteria.  There is no evidence of a systematic effort to 
abridge these rights by the federal or local governments, or by 
private groups or individuals.

     Women

The Constitution provides for the equality of all citizens, 
provisions which are generally reflected in civil, penal, and 
labor law.  Nonetheless, women encounter discrimination in the 
workplace, especially the growing number of urban women who 
also are heads of household.  Women's groups charge that 
employed women are disproportionately found in the lower 
ranking positions in the lowest paid sectors of the formal 
economy and in unregulated and underpaid work in the informal 
economy.  They also report increasing numbers of women seek 
employment in the informal economy owing to lack of training 
opportunities and scarcity of child care and other provisions 
to assist working women in the formal sector.

The Government created the National Women's Council in 1991 to 
develop and coordinate women's policies; it reports to the 
Presidency.  The Council promotes equal opportunity for women 
and nondiscriminatory education, training, and orientation 
programs, as well as special programs for women at risk.  The 
problems of spousal abuse and violence against women are 
drawing more public attention, but there are no government 
programs aimed at combating such abuse.

     Children

The Government is committed in principle to the protection of 
children and the defense of their human rights and welfare.  
Historically, Argentina has been a leader in Latin America in 
programs to provide public education, health protection, and 
recreational services for all children, regardless of class or 
economic status.  Endemic economic problems over the past three 
decades, however, have made it difficult for the State and for 
society in general to attain these high standards.


     Indigenous People

The degree to which indigenous peoples participate in the 
political process, their exercise of civil rights, and the 
extent of their control over natural resources and land varies 
widely from one ethnic group to another, and from one region of 
the country to another.  The indigenous population, estimated 
at 100,000, is concentrated at the northern and southern 
extremities of the country.  The province with the highest 
concentration of indigenous peoples, Chaco, has about 30,000 
native peoples divided into three nations.  Like most of 
Argentina's indigenous peoples, their indices of 
undernourishment, illiteracy, tuberculosis and other diseases, 
and unemployment are higher than national averages.

In 1987 Congress passed a law designed to return Indian lands.  
It has yet to be implemented.  In 1990 President Menem 
implemented a 1924 law granting some 150,000 hectares of land 
to one of the Chaco nations and budgeted the equivalent of 
$150,000 to undertake a survey and delimitation of individual 
plots.  The survey, however, did not take place because 
competing national and provincial authorities could not agree 
who would carry it out and how it would be funded.

     Religious Minorities

There were fewer incidents of overt anti-Semitism in 1993 than 
in previous years.  A Jewish cemetery in Formosa province was 
desecrated in late 1992, and in September 1993 the large 
cemetery at La Tablada, Buenos Aires province, was vandalized.  
The Government's 1992 decision to make public old files 
purportedly dealing with the immigration of an estimated 60,000 
former Nazis to Argentina after World War II attracted 
attention again in 1993, when the local Jewish community and 
others criticized the Government's failure to follow through 
with access to significant records, including central bank 
archives that may contain evidence of large currency transfers 
in that era.

     People with Disabilities

Disabled persons' rights are protected by law, and some 
provisions have been made (i.e., curb ramps in some urban 
areas) to accomodate persons with physical disabilities.  A 
comprehensive federal law protects the rights of disabled 
persons and mandates special concessions in employment, but its 
observance is difficult to judge.  The media generally 
highlight instances in which the rights of the disabled appear 
to be violated or ignored, such as in the case of a 19-year-old 
woman in Buenos Aires with Down's syndrome who was banned from 
voting in the October elections.  Such reports were infrequent.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

With the exception of military personnel, all workers are free 
to form unions.  The labor movement is organized in a large, 
national labor central, the General Labor Confederation (CGT), 
and represents about one-third of the work force.  Each 
province has a local CGT, and some large national unions (e.g., 
commercial workers, automobile workers, metallurgical workers, 
light and power workers) are significant economic and political 
powers.  Some factions of the CGT were quite hostile to the 
Menem Government's proposed reform of laws governing labor, 
social security, and social welfare because they were perceived 
as a threat to the traditional economic and political power of 
Peronist labor.

In response, and with an eye to the October elections, the 
Government downplayed these initiatives, thus helping to 
solidify Menem's support among traditionally Peronist organized 
labor.  On the other hand, the International Labor 
Organization's (ILO) Committee of Experts concluded that the 
text of a draft amendment prepared by the Government did not go 
far enough in removing excessive conditions set out in Act No. 
23551 for granting trade union status, noting that a trade 
union at the enterprise level could only be granted status when 
another union did not already exist within the same unit or 
area of activity.

Unions have the right to strike, subject to compulsory 
conciliation and arbitration by the Labor Ministry.  Union 
members and leaders who participate in strikes and other 
activities are protected by law.  Several unions, especially 
education workers, exercised that right in 1993 without 
government interference.  Argentine unions are free to 
associate internationally, and some leaders play active roles 
in regional and international labor organizations.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

These rights are protected by federal law throughout the 
country; complementary provincial labor laws often go beyond 
these rights.  Antilabor practices are prohibited.  Labor and 
management are legally bound by collective bargaining 
agreements which, in theory, set basic wage levels and working 
conditions on an industry wide basis.  In practice, 
particularly in the last 5 years, these agreements have tended 
to be less global in their scope, with the current trend in 
both practice and theory moving toward company- and in some 
cases region-specific agreements.  The Federal Government's 
role in this process is limited to ratifying these contracts to 
give them legal status.  The ILO's Committee on Freedom of 
Association, however, asked the Government to remove 
limitations on collective bargaining, imposed in 1991 as a 
stabilization measure, which exclude wage indexation agreements 
and require that wage increases be based on productivity 
gains.  The labor reform bill introduced in Congress in 1993 
would give management more flexibility to hire and fire, more 
control over hours and vacations, and would further reduce the 
Government's role in labor-management relations.  

In December the Supreme Court upheld the executive branch's 
annulment of 65 labor contracts affecting 15 unions in the port 
and maritime sector.  The Court's decision had its origins in a 
decree issued in mid-1992 which struck down all labor contracts 
affecting maritime and port activities as part of the 
administration's projected reform of that sector.  Previous to 
the Supreme Court's decision, a Labor Court had asserted that 
the decree was unconstitutional.  The affected unions have 
filed a complaint with the ILO.

Workers may not be fired for participating in legal union 
activities and those who prove they have been discriminated 
against have the right to be reinstated.  

There are no officially designated export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is illegal and is not known to be 
practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Employment of children under 14 years of age, except within the 
family, is illegal.  Minors aged 14 to 18 may work in 
restricted types of employment with regard to hours and safety 
and health conditions, although exceptions are allowed in cases 
of extreme necessity.  A recent increase in the level of 
unemployment encouraged some families to send their children 
out to seek work, often resulting in the illegal employment of 
minors, mostly in the informal sector and on farms.  Federal 
and provincial labor authorities were not well equipped to cope 
with this situation due to budgetary and personnel limitations.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The national minimum wage is $200 (200 pesos) a month.  

Federal labor laws contain elaborate, albeit somewhat 
inflexible, provisions for guaranteeing acceptable conditions 
of work, especially with regard to hours, rest periods, safety 
and health, and job security.  The maximum workday is 8 hours, 
and the maximum workweek is 48 hours.  Premiums are paid for 
work beyond those limits, which is frequently the case, as 
employers seek greater productivity without having to acquire 
legal obligations to new workers under the present system.

Federally legislated occupational and health standards are 
comprehensive but the Federal Government and many provincial 
governments lack the resources and training to enforce them, 
despite union vigilance against violations.  Workers have the 
right to remove themselves from dangerous or unhealthful work 
situations, after having gone through a claim procedure, 
without jeopardy to continued employment.  Nevertheless, workers
who leave the workplace before it has been proven unsafe run 
the risk of being fired; in such cases, the worker has a right 
to judicial appeal.  According to Labor Ministry authorities, 
this appeal process can take up to 5 years.  Worker lawsuits 
provoked by on-the-job injury or job-related disability remain 
a major industry, and a very large number of retirees are on 
disability, both legitimate and questionable.  Much of the work 
force, including children, is employed in small owner-operated 
enterprises, making it difficult to enforce workers' rights as 
well as health and safety standards. 


[end of document]

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