Television


About RTÉ Television
What In The World
What in the World? RTÉ One, Thursday, 11.05pm

Programme 5

"Flowers for the Gringo" - Colombia

According to the Koran, bread feeds the body but flowers feed the soul. And while flowers may nourish the souls of consumers in the Northern Hemisphere, they feed the bodies of many of the poor in the Southern Hemisphere. An estimated 100,000 people here in Colombia, depend on this industry for their livelihood.

"Buy our flowers and not our cocaine" was the marketing catchphrase in Colombia in the 1980s and as slogans go that is as good as it gets in a world obsessed with the spiraling drug trade. And as with many marketing slogans the reality does not always match the rhetoric. Located in opposite ends of the country, the cut flower industry has had no impact on the coca industry from which cocaine is derived.

But Colombia's predominantly feminised flower industry is blighted by exploitation, poor labour laws and where involvement in a trade union can mean a death sentence. Hilda Fresnera a young flower worker was fired from her job after an accident at work. Almost twelve hours into her shift. Esperanza Cerero - can no longer work after four operations on her right hand and one on her left from repetitive strain injury.

Woman working in a flower factory
Woman working in a flower factory
Peadar King
Peadar King