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'Guest workers' suffer from exploitation, neglect

A nine-month investigation by Tom Knudson and Hector Amezcua of The Sacramento Bee "has found pineros [Latino forest workers in the United States] are victims of employer exploitation, government neglect and a contracting system that insulates landowners — including the U.S. government — from responsibility." The report, "based on more than 150 interviews across Mexico, Guatemala and the United States and 5,000 pages of records unearthed through the Freedom of Information Act" shows responsibility for these "guest workers" is spread among several federal agencies and private contractors with no effective oversight. Part two shows the government has been aware of problems with the program but has failed to do anything to fix it. "First in 1980 and again in 1993, Congress expressed shock at the abuse of Latino forest workers in America's woods and the hypocrisy of undocumented workers doing government work." The third part of the series focuses on "The number one cause of death among pineros" — van accidents. "They are the byproducts of fatigue, poorly maintained vehicles, ineffective state and federal laws, inexperienced drivers and poverty-stricken workers hungry for jobs."

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