St. Lucia in the Middle of the Human Trafficking Problem: The Lambirds

By: Dr Mary

MIAMI – Human Trafficking has become a big problem in recent years.  According to the 2016 US Trafficking in Persons Report, out of four tiers with four being the highest, St. Lucia rates at tier 2, which means that they are currently on the watch list for not doing enough to combat human trafficking.

The St. Lucian government reported that “India, China, Cuba, and Russia are the most likely trafficking perpetrators in the country.”  South Florida is the third busiest for sex trafficking according to the US Department of Justice.

Miami is a hub for human trafficking because “it attracts travelers from around the world” according to Adriana Hauser and Marino Castillo, CNN reporters in their August 26, 2013 article.

The US Department of Justice defines human trafficking as:

Human Trafficking is a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and its subsequent reauthorizations define human trafficking as:

  1. a) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  2. b) The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. (22 U.S.C. § 7102(9)).

In the year 2015, 68 students from Nepal and India found themselves in this unfortunate position.

St. Lucia in the Middle of the Human Trafficking Problem: The Lambirds
The Lambirds

The Lambirds documentary movie showcases the students’ plight from their arrival to St. Lucia until today where their case continues.

For approximately $10,000 a person, the students were promised eight months of education in the travel industry.  One student stated “I spent $16,000 to come to this place.”  The students were also promised a work visa and a job of at least $40,000 a year on a cruise ship.

These students were told that this opportunity existed in America in a place called St. Lucia. To further enhance this belief they were given a map of St. Lucia showing that it was part of America.

Unfortunately when they got to “America” they were surprised, thinking that “America” did not look anything like they thought, imagined or had seen on TV.  To make everything worse their passports were confiscated, they had no money, and when they got to the Academy it was locked and empty.

Due to the seriousness of the situation the students decided to take their story to the news in hopes that the St. Lucian government would help them.  Linda Daher, from DBS News World helped share their story and took in 20 students.

She relayed, “I find they are strong, I worry sometimes they are too strong.”  In making this statement, Ms. Daher shared her empathy for the students who had to go through so much but still were able to smile in trying times.

This documentary was heart wrenching!  Can you imagine borrowing thousands of dollars for what you thought would be a better future and come to find out you have lost all that money?

Most people do not have $10,000 in their bank account.  Some students even borrowed from “loan sharks” all in an effort to find a better future in the USA.  Some stated that they couldn’t go home because they had to bring the money back.

Can you imagine being alone on a strange island by yourself with no family only people you are not familiar with?  These students must have had a rough few weeks getting adjusted.

As part of their efforts to advertise and putting their story out there, the students got the satisfaction of seeing Dr. Sham brought to court.

In the film it stated that despite the evidence and students stories he was still not convicted for that crime but remained in jail on other charges.  However, the St. Lucian government did offer to send the students back to their home.

Despite this several remained in St. Lucia in hopes of getting their money back.  One student who returned home, or returned to her country could not go home because her family blamed her for losing the money.

Sad, sad, sad!  If you ever have a chance watch this film it will pull at your heart, make you be happy with what you do have, and if you live in America and at least have a job make you feel blessed.

The Lambirds

Director: Fini Maza
Producer: Ana Castañosa, Fini Maza
Screenwriter: Juan Lázaro
Executive Producer: Fini Maza, Ana Castañosa, Juan Lázaro

Music: Rubén Gutiérrez
Cinematographer: Fini Maza
Editor: Juan Lazzaro, Laura Bueno

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