Puerto El Triunfo
2017 (Creation date: 2017)
- Main contributor
Durante la década de 1970, El Salvador contaba con una vasta industria del camarón, y casi todas las 3700 toneladas que exportaba cada año llegaron a los Estados Unidos. A medida que los camarones se alejaban del estado de lujo, es probable que pocos estadounidenses piensen mucho en cómo los camarones llegaron a sus platos. Menos aún habrían oído hablar de la historia de Puerto el Triunfo (Port Triumph en inglés) y del drama del auge y caída de la industria del camarón. Sin embargo, ahora, con la conciencia de los alimentos en su punto más alto de todos los tiempos, y las preocupaciones sobre el comercio justo y la sostenibilidad en la mente del público, es hora de contar esta notable historia. Puerto el Triunfo es un microcosmos que pone de relieve algunas de las fuerzas más poderosas que dan forma a Centroamérica y, en general, los obstáculos que enfrenta el trabajo organizado en todo el mundo.
Luchas sociales; Sindicalismo; Industria camaronera
- Time period
Puerto El Triunfo, Usulutan, El Salvador
During the 1970s, El Salvador boasted a vast shrimp industry, and nearly all of the 3700 tons that it exported each year made its way to the United States. As shrimp was transitioning away from luxury status, few Americans were likely to give much thought to how the shrimp reached their plates. Fewer still would ever have heard of the story of Puerto el Triunfo – Port Triumph in English– and the drama of the shrimp industry’s rise and fall. Yet now, with consciousness of food at an all-time high, and concerns about fair trade and sustainability much on the public mind, it is time to tell this remarkable story. Puerto el Triunfo is a microcosm that throws into sharp relief some of the most powerful forces shaping Central America, and more broadly, the obstacles facing organized labor world- wide. In the 1970s, the 1500 organized workers of the port – mostly women – thanks to their struggles and to the profitability of the Salvadoran shrimp industry were amongst the more privileged laborers in the country. By the latter part of the decade, their hopes for a dignified life for their children seemed on the verge of realization. In 1980, brutal state repression eliminated union leaders or drove them into exile. After a few years, the unions reorganized. By the 1990s, however, the collapse of the industry had extinguished the hopes of the port workers. Our story reveals the internal functioning of the unions, including intense gender conflict and sheds light on their early forms of resistance to the neo-liberal inspired transformation of labor relations that emerged on a global scale during the 1980s. Often known as the flexibilization of labor, management typically has striven to cut costs by reducing the permanent labor force to whom it must pay benefits, employing a temporary, “casual,” workers who lack fundamental labor rights. In 1987, the fishermen’s union launched one of the longest strikes in the history of the world labor movement against such management tactics. The collapse of the strike in 1990 coincided with the demise the largest shrimp company in Central America. Puerto el Triunfo will attract viewers in part because of the raw power of the story and because the small-scale intimacy of our tale will put a human face to the impersonal forces of globalization, tropical de-industrialization and environmental decay.
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