MEXICO CITY, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Children under the age of 14 are working on the ranch of Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox, sowing onions and potatoes in contravention of laws banning child labor, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
Mexico City daily Reforma said that on Saturday it found at least 30 minors and teen-agers being trucked into the Fox family ranch, San Cristobal, in the central agricultural state of Guanajuato, to work for about 65 pesos (about $7) a day.
The Mexican Constitution bans children younger than age 14 from working. Children between 14 and 16 can only work six hours a day. Nevertheless, child labor, especially in the impoverished countryside, is common.
Fox, who just returned from a five-day tour of South America in his first foreign trip before taking office on Dec. 1, was spending the weekend relaxing on the ranch. It was not possible to contact his aides for comment.
Reforma said that among the more than 30 youngsters picked up by truck at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday were 12-year-old Jose, 13-year-old Juan and 11-year-old Sanjuana.
It said the children showed its reporter their 390-peso ($42) weekly paycheck. Reforma said that since the children were hired as seasonal workers, they received no benefits.
Many had left school to help earn money for their families. They worked from 7 a.m. to around 4 p.m., taking an hour lunch break, for an eight-hour workday. A young man who appeared to be taking care of the children, 20-year-old Mario, complained about the hard work and low pay.
"It barely pays for food and they don't pay you for every day you work," Mario told Reforma as he urged the children to make sure they got the wages they deserved.