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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

U.S. Reports on Latin American & Global Countries with Worst Child Labor

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States has released its annual assessment of the fight against child labor, a threat to the health and well-being of children around the world.

On October 7, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced the 13th edition of the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, a report prepared annually by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB).

The report assesses efforts by more than 140 countries to reduce the worst forms of child labor and reports whether countries have made significant, moderate, minimal or no progress from year to year. It also suggests actions they can take to eliminate the worst forms of child labor through legislation, enforcement, coordination, policies and social programs.

Perez also announced that the department will be awarding $7 million to Winrock International to implement a global project to support countries, including Burkina Faso and Nepal, who want to improve their capacity to combat child labor.

“This report shines a light on the estimated 168 million children around the world who toil in the shadows — crawling underground in mine shafts, sewing in textile factories or serving in households as domestic workers,” said Perez. “We are seeing more countries take action to address the issue, but the world can and must do more to accelerate these efforts. When children are learning rather than working, families flourish, economies grow and nations prosper.”

"This report is not just a one-of-a-kind assessment of countries’ efforts to address child labor. It is also a road map for change," added Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs Carol Pier. “It is my hope that the information in this report, its assessments and its recommendations will spur individual and collective action to help vulnerable children around the world find a better future.”

The report is mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000. The 2013 report introduces a new streamlined format for country profiles to make it more user-friendly and a better policy tool for engagement, according to the Department of Labor.

Thirteen countries received an assessment of significant advancement, compared with 10 countries in the 2012 report.

Since 1993, ILAB has produced reports to raise awareness globally about child labor and forced labor. ILAB has also provided funding for more than 275 projects in over 90 countries to combat the worst forms of child labor by providing assistance to vulnerable children and their families.

In addition to providing international technical assistance in support of U.S. foreign and labor policy objectives, the agency leads the department’s efforts to ensure workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy.

ILAB’s global mission is to improve working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers’ ability to exercise their rights and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations.



Here are some Briefs on How Latin America and the Caribbean Came Out (more details are in the Report below):

  • ARGENTINA - In 2013, Argentina made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government enacted the Child Labor Law, which amends the Penal Code to penalize the economic exploitation of children with 1 to 4 years of prison. The Government also ratified the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers and enacted the Special Code on Contracting Domestic Workers, a law which prohibits children under the age of 16 from domestic work, and prohibits children between the ages of 16 and 18 from residing where they work. In addition, the Government continued to implement its National Plan to Combat Child Labor (2011-2015), and to administer social programs that expand educational opportunities for children. However, children in Argentina continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Argentina has not adopted a list of hazardous occupations that are prohibited to children, and appears to lack programs that target working children in all relevant sectors.

  • BARBADOS - In 2013, Barbados made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government has conducted its first prosecution of commercial sexual exploitation of children under the Transnational Organized Crime Act, and began a community outreach program to raise public awareness of human trafficking. However,
    although evidence is limited, children in Barbados are reported to engage in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation and drug trafficking. The Government does not currently have a comprehensive policy framework to address all worst forms of child labor, and legislative gaps remain. For example, Barbados lacks a legally enforceable list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children.

  • BELIZE - In 2013, Belize made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government enacted a new law and amended an existing law to increase protections against the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In addition, the Government provided training on child labor issues to its labor inspectors and increased funding to a key social program to encourage school attendance. However, children in Belize continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Important gaps remain in the country’s legal framework on the worst forms of child labor. In addition, the impact of many of the Government’s development and education policies and programs on child labor remains unknown.

  • BOLIVIA - In 2013, Bolivia made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The
    Government created regional sub-commissions to lead efforts to combat the worst forms of child labor in high-risk regions.
    The labor inspectorate increased its number of child labor inspections by over 100, and rescued 400 children under age
    14 from child labor in the Santa Cruz area. In addition, the Government of Bolivia increased funding for a conditional cash transfer program aimed at bolstering school attendance. However, children continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in mining. Child labor inspections remain insufficient relative to the scope of the problem, and the Government does not make key information publicly available, such as statistics on child trafficking cases or penalties applied to employers for child labor violations. The Government’s National Plan to Eradicate Child Labor expired in 2010 and has not been updated.

  • BRAZIL - In 2013, Brazil made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government increased budget allocations for its flagship social protection programs, Bolsa Familia, Brasil Carinhoso, and Brasil sem Miséria, with their combined budgets growing from $20.33 billion in 2012 to $24.4 billion in 2013. The
    Government established new guidelines to prioritize child labor in the labor inspectorate system and created a national
    training academy for labor inspectors. The Government also conducted 8,277 child labor inspections and rescued 7,413 children from child labor. It restructured the National Program to Eradicate Child Labor to improve coordination and provide additional resources to local governments, and established a new national plan to combat sexual violence and commercial sexual exploitation of children. However, children in Brazil continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and domestic service. Some local governments lack adequate resources to fully implement national programs to combat child labor, including child trafficking.

  • CHILE - In 2013, Chile made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The
    Government, in collaboration with the ILO, published a national survey on child labor. The Ministry of Labor and Social Prevision (MINTRAB) increased the number of labor inspections almost threefold, and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons adopted a National Plan against Trafficking in Persons. The Government passed a law that provides free education to children, from preschool to age 18. Chile also continued to implement a number of policies and programs targeting the worst forms of child labor. However, children continue to engage in child labor in urban informal work, and in the worst forms of child labor, particularly in commercial sexual exploitation and illicit activities, including drug trafficking. The Government has yet to adopt a new national plan against child labor.

  • COLOMBIA - In 2013, Colombia made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government expanded its social protection program, More Families in Action, increasing the number of beneficiary
    families from 2.6 million to 3 million. The Government updated its list of the prohibited worst forms of child labor and conducted 1,543 inspections to verify labor conditions for adolescents with permits to work. The Government investigated 144 new cases of recruitment of children by illegal, non-state armed groups and convicted six individuals for such crimes. The Government also established an inspection unit within the Ministry of Labor to combat child labor, restructured the National System of Family Well-Being to improve interagency coordination to protect children’s rights, and began to participate in a 4-year, $9 million project to combat child labor and improve workplace health and safety in mining. However, children continue to be forcibly recruited by non-state armed groups and engage in child labor in agriculture and street work. Limited
    interagency coordination and inadequate resources hinder efforts to combat child labor, including child trafficking.

  • COSTA RICA - In 2013, Costa Rica made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. During the reporting period, Costa Rica passed a new anti-trafficking law and strengthened its laws against the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Government also ratified the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers. The
    labor inspectorate identified 47 child labor cases, and the judicial system prosecuted 20 child labor cases and convicted several offenders. In addition, the Government’s child labor coordinating body provided services to more than 600 former child laborers, and various agencies continued to invest in social protection programs designed to reduce child labor. Despite these efforts, children in Costa Rica continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Social programs do not reach all child laborers, and the numbers of labor inspectors and criminal prosecutors remain inadequate.

  • DOMINICA - In 2013, Dominica made a minimal advancement in efforts to prevent the worst forms of child labor. The Government ratified the Palermo Protocol, passed the Transnational Organized Crime (Prevention and Control) Act, and
    continued to implement programs to reduce poverty and ensure that education is a viable alternative to work for all children. Although no information suggests that the worst forms of child labor are a problem, critical gaps exist in the legal framework to prevent children from involvement in the worst forms of child labor. National legislation still does not prohibit child pornography, the minimum age for hazardous work falls below international standards, and the country lacks a comprehensive list of hazardous work prohibited to children, which leaves children vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.

  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - In 2013, the Dominican Republic made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Despite several initiatives to address child labor, the Dominican Republic received this assessment because of significant limitations on educational opportunities for certain children, which increases their vulnerability to labor exploitation.

    In 2013, the Government expanded some of its social programs, including its conditional cash transfer program that requires children in families receiving benefits to stay in school and out of work. In addition, the Government allocated 4 percent of national GDP for primary and secondary education, an increase from 2.4 percent in 2011. It also launched public campaigns to raise awareness about child labor. However, children in the Dominican Republic continue to engage in exploitative child labor in agriculture and commercial sexual exploitation. Moreover, due to frequent misinterpretations and misapplication of Dominican law and policies on the right to education, school officials do not permit many children, particularly those of Haitian descent, to enroll in primary and secondary education without birth certificates or other identifying documentation. These incorrectly-applied provisions may prevent or discourage children not entitled to Dominican documents or unable to obtain documents from their countries of nationality from enrolling in or completing school.

    In addition, the Government’s steps to address child labor may be further undermined by the September 23, 2013, Constitutional Tribunal ruling that impacted the citizenship status and, consequently, access to education of Dominican-born descendants of foreign parents “in transit”, including both documented and undocumented migrants. In May 2014, Dominican President Medina signed a naturalization law approved by Congress that may restore nationality to some affected by the ruling, which may potentially enable access to education for some affected children.

  • ECUADOR - In 2013, Ecuador made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government also launched the Unified Child Labor Registration System (SURTI) and prioritized eradicating child labor in agriculture as well as street begging. It increased the number of Grants for Human Development beneficiaries to 1.5 million families. It also increased the budget for labor inspections by 42 percent, and conducted a child labor survey that included domestic child labor. In addition, the Government issued a decree requiring that all Government procurement contracts with the private sector include a provision prohibiting the use of child labor. However, children in Ecuador continue to be engaged in child labor, including in agriculture and street work. Ecuador still faces resource constraints that prevent labor inspectors from conducting inspections and enforcing child labor laws.

  • EL SALVADOR - In 2013, El Salvador made a significant advancement in efforts
    to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government increased the budget allocation for labor inspections, employed additional labor inspectors, and increased the number of inspections targeting child labor, as compared to 2012. The Government also conducted more investigations of crimes related to the worst forms of child labor than in 2012, and the Attorney General’s Office increased the number of convictions for crimes involving the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Government’s National Council for Children and Adolescents passed a new National Policy for the Protection of Children and Adolescents for 2013 to 2023, which includes the objective of protecting children from the worst forms of child labor. In addition, in collaboration with the ILO, the Government launched a Web platform to more rigorously monitor progress in executing its main policy framework on child labor, the Roadmap to Make El Salvador Free from Child Labor and its Worst Forms. However, children in El Salvador continue to engage in child labor, including in agriculture and domestic service. Penalties for violations of child labor and human trafficking laws are insufficient to act as a deterrent, and law enforcement agencies still lack sufficient resources to enforce child labor laws.

  • GRENADA - In 2013, Grenada made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government passed the Electronic Crimes Act, which prohibits child pornography, and launched the National Child Protocol, which contains guidelines for intra-governmental coordination on child protection, investigations, and referrals to appropriate services. It also continued to implement programs that make education a viable alternative to child labor. While the worst forms of child labor do not appear to be a problem in Grenada, the Government’s ability to prevent children from becoming engaged in exploitative work is limited due to a lack of express prohibitions against children’s involvement in hazardous work and the sale and trafficking of children for forced labor.

  • GUATEMALA - In 2013, Guatemala made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government approved an action plan that outlines specific steps for Government agencies to take from 2013 to 2015 to meet the goals set out in its flagship child labor policy, the Roadmap toward the Elimination of Child Labor in Guatemala. The Government also increased its efforts to enforce child labor law by carrying out significantly more inspections than the previous year, allocating additional resources to labor enforcement, and rescuing 159 child victims of human trafficking. In addition, inter-agency committees at the departmental level took actions to combat child labor, such as withdrawing children from work in garbage dumps. However, children in Guatemala continue to engage in child labor, primarily in agriculture. Lack of Government resources, lack of Labor Ministry authority to impose fines, and inadequate judicial enforcement of court orders remain key challenges for enforcement efforts regarding the worst forms of child labor. None of the 346 child labor cases referred to the labor courts in 2013 resulted in an employer sanction. Guatemala also lacks Government programs targeting sectors in which children are known to engage in exploitative labor, such as domestic service, mining, quarrying, and construction.

  • GUYANA - In 2013, Guyana made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government identified and rescued nine girls and one boy as suspected trafficking victims and provided labor inspectors with child labor training. In collaboration with the ILO, the Government implemented the Tackle Child Labor through Education (TACKLE) project through its conclusion in August. During the project period, school attendance and student performance increased, and the Government aims to mainstream the programs initiated under the project. In August, the Government ratified ILO Convention 189 Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers. However, children in Guyana continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Guyana’s legislation does not fully protect children from the worst forms of child labor. Children 17 years of age are legally permitted to engage in some hazardous activities. Further, the National Steering Committee on Child Labor appears to be inactive.

  • HAITI - In 2013, Haiti made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government adopted a new law to bring Haitian law into compliance with the Hague Convention on International Adoptions, which contains provisions that aim to prevent trafficking and other worst forms of child labor from occurring through Haiti’s child adoption system. The Government continued to expand access to education and support livelihoods through social programs that provide cash transfers to defray tuition and the cost of school meals during the 2013 school year. However, children in Haiti continue to engage in child labor, including in domestic service and agriculture. Haiti lacks adequate legislation to address the worst forms of child labor, such as trafficking, and a clear, easily applicable minimum age for domestic service, and it has not yet approved a list of hazardous occupations prohibited to children. Inspectors and child protection agents lack sufficient resources, such as vehicles and fuel, to carry out inspections. Social protection programs to combat child labor are also insufficient to adequately address the extent of the problem.

  • HONDURAS - In 2013, Honduras made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government of Honduras passed a Legislative Decree harmonizing legal protections for children and trained labor inspectors on child labor issues. It strengthened the role of the seven regional sub-committees against child labor, and provided training to staff and community members on topics such as prevention, withdrawal, and social protection for child workers. The Government also continued to implement the Voucher 10,000 program, which provides cash transfers to families, and added child labor as a target issue under the program. However, children continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. The inspections process does not sufficiently deter employers from using child labor.

  • JAMAICA - In 2013, Jamaica made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government amended the trafficking law to include harsher penalties for violators of child trafficking cases, the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NTFATIP) supported many awareness activities, and the Government conducted three small pilot surveys on child labor. Jamaica also continued to participate in the Child Labor Measurement and Policy Development (MAP) program and the Tackling Child Labor through Education (TACKLE) program, through which they published a Child Labor Handbook for Professionals. However, children in Jamaica are engaged in child labor in street work and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. There is no law prohibiting the procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, including drug trafficking and production. The country lacks current nationwide comprehensive statistics on child labor, and it has not enacted a draft Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.

  • NICARAGUA - In 2013, Nicaragua made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government expanded its Program Love to include children from birth to age 6 and, with support from the World Food Program, initiated a national school meal program that targeted 1 million children. The Government also closed La Chureca garbage dump in Managua and created jobs, housing, and a chool for the more than 250 families that depended on it for their subsistence. With funding from UNICEF, immigration officials received training on how to identify victims of child
    trafficking, and social service officials received training on victim care. The Government also ratified the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers. Despite these efforts, children in Nicaragua continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. The Government’s enforcement of labor laws is inadequate, and plans to combat child labor and protect children have not been fully implemented. In addition, Government programs are insufficient to reach the numbers of children engaged in the worst forms of child labor.

  • PANAMA - In 2013, Panama made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government of Panama increased the number of labor inspectors, extended the Roadmap towards the Elimination of Child Labor to cover the period 2013–2014, and released the results of a 2012 survey covering child labor. However, children continue to engage in child labor, including in agriculture. The law does not adequately define light work nor does it clearly sanction violations related to the hazardous work in which children are prohibited to engage. The law also allows minors under 16 to engage in hazardous work in training establishments.

  • PARAGUAY - In 2013, Paraguay made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. In May 2013, the Government of Paraguay became the second Latin American country to ratify ILO Convention 189 Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers. The Government conducted human trafficking trainings for law enforcement professionals throughout the country; prosecuted and convicted criminals who violated laws regarding the worst forms of child labor; and expanded health and education services of the Government-funded Embrace Program (Programa Abrazo) in areas of the country with high prevalence of child labor and the worst forms of child labor. However, children in Paraguay continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in domestic service. Paraguay’s system of child labor eradication lacks a formal coordinating mechanism between agencies and remains underfunded relative to the scope of the problem. In addition, the Government did not make information available on whether businesses were fined for child labor infractions.

  • PERU - In 2013, Peru made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government took steps to consolidate and strengthen its inspection system by transferring inspection authority, in
    most cases, from regional governments to a new National Labor Inspection Superintendency (SUNAFIL). The Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion (MTPE) approved a tenfold increase in the maximum fine for employers that employ children in the worst forms of child labor. In addition, in an effort to support regional actions to combat child labor, the Government provided specialized training to 23 Regional Commissions for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor. The MTPE, Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Social Development signed an agreement to jointly implement two pilot programs to combat child labor, as called for in Peru’s National Strategy for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor. However, children in Peru continue to engage in child labor, including in agriculture and street work, such as street vending and street begging. Labor inspectorates remain underfunded and the number of child labor inspections is insufficient, especially in regions with the highest rates of child labor. In addition, not all Regional Commissions for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor have drafted and funded action plans to combat child labor, as they are mandated to do by Ministerial Resolution 202-2005-TR.

  • SAINT KITTS & NEVIS - In 2013, Saint Kitts and Nevis made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government continued to fund social programs that target those vulnerable to child labor. However, while the extent of the problem is unknown, children in Saint Kitts and Nevis are reported to engage in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation and drug trafficking. The law does not protect all children ages 16 to 18 from hazardous work, and the Government has not yet adopted a hazardous work list.

  • SAINT LUCIA - In 2013, Saint Lucia made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The Government also ratified the Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict and the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. In addition, the Government continued to fund education initiatives, including after-school programs, transportation subsidies, and school meals. However, although evidence is limited, children in Saint Lucia are reported to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Saint Lucia also continues to face legislative gaps. The law does not fully protect children from exploitation in pornography and illicit activities, and the Government has not adopted a list of hazardous activities prohibited for children. Further, Saint Lucia has not conducted research to assess the nature and scope of child labor.

  • SAINT VINCENT & THE GRENADINES - In 2013, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines made a minimal advancement in
    efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government made limited enforcements efforts, which included incorporating information on trafficking in persons into the training for new police recruits and developing guides for officials to help identify victims of trafficking. The Government also continued to implement social programs that target children that may be vulnerable to child labor. However, although the country does not appear to have a widespread child labor problem, some children are engaged in domestic service and agriculture. Gaps remain in the legal framework. The minimum age for hazardous work falls below international standards, and although the use of children for the trafficking of drugs is prohibited,
    there is no law to prohibit the use of children in the production of drugs.

  • SURINAME - In 2013, Suriname made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government began participating in a multi-country USDOL-funded project to enhance capacity to combat child labor. During this time, the Government also implemented a national child labor survey. The Government continued to expand education programs for vulnerable populations and took anti-trafficking efforts by taking steps to establish a shelter for child trafficking victims. However, children in Suriname continue to engage in child labor in mining and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Suriname has not risen the compulsory education age to equal the minimum age for
    employment. Additionally, Suriname does not collect or publish data on child labor inspections and violations.

  • TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - In 2013, Trinidad and Tobago made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government established the Counter-Trafficking Unit to partner with the Police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute traffickers, as well as to coordinate with government agencies and non-governmental organizations to ensure victim protection. The Government also signed a Strategic Plan with UNICEF to promote children’s rights, education, and early childhood development. In addition, it adopted a National Youth Policy that seeks to incorporate youth as partners in national development and mainstream youth issues in national policies. However, while the prevalence is thought to be limited, children in Trinidad and Tobago are reported to engage in child labor in agriculture and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, which is mandated to protect children’s rights by the Children’s Authority Act of 2000 and the Children’s Authority (Amendment) Act of 2008, is still not fully operational. The Government also has yet to ratify a list of hazardous occupations prohibited to children.

  • URUGUAY - In 2013, Uruguay made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government continues to implement the national plan focused on addressing the commercial sexual exploitation of children, as well as the national plan to combat child labor in garbage dumps. Numerous public awareness campaigns about child labor were also implemented during the reporting period and included areas within the interior of the country. However, children in Uruguay continue to engage in the worst forms of child labor in garbage dump scavenging and in commercial sexual exploitation. Uruguay lacks a comprehensive national child labor policy, and programs to prevent and eliminate child labor are limited.

  • VENEZUELA - In 2013, Venezuela made no advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government’s current policies and programs aim to alleviate poverty and improve conditions for some working children. However, children in Venezuela continue to engage in child labor in domestic service and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. The Government does not have sufficient efforts in place to protect children in key
    sectors where child labor is prevalent. In addition, information is not available on the effectiveness of the Government’s coordinating body on child labor, and the Government has not established a list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children.

US Findings on the Worst Child Labor Around the World 2013 by Latin American Herald Tribune


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