Region Highlights

With 35 countries and 13 percent of the world’s population, the Americas is home to geographically large countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and the United States and features wide socio-economic differences within each country and across the region. This regional study summarises a longer set of findings, which can be found in the Global Slavery Index: Americas Report.

Prevalence within the Americas

On any given day in 2016, an estimated 1.9 million men, women, and children were living in modern slavery in the Americas. This region had a prevalence of 1.9 people in modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the region.

When considering the forms of modern slavery, the rate of forced labour (1.3 victims per 1,000 people) was higher than the rate of forced marriage (0.7 victims per 1,000). A little over a third of victims of forced labour exploitation were held in debt bondage (37.9 percent), with similar proportions of men and women in the region trapped through debt. The region also accounted for four percent of all victims of forced sexual exploitation worldwide.

Within the region, Venezuela, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic were the countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery; however, the United States, Brazil, and Mexico had the highest absolute numbers and accounted for over half (57 percent) of the victims in the region.

These regional figures, while important, should be interpreted cautiously given the gaps and limitations of data in key regions. For example, there are no surveys conducted in North America.

Table 1Estimated prevalence of modern slavery by country, Americas
Regional rank
Country
Estimated prevalence (victims per 1,000 population)
Estimated absolute number of victims
Population
1Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of5.6174,00031,155,000
2Haiti5.659,00010,711,000
3Dominican Republic4.042,00010,528,000
4Cuba3.843,00011,461,000
5Honduras3.430,0008,961,000
6Trinidad and Tobago3.04,0001,360,000
7Guatemala2.947,00016,252,000
8Nicaragua2.918,0006,082,000
9Barbados2.71,000284,000
10Colombia2.7131,00048,229,000
11Mexico2.7341,000125,891,000
12Guyana2.62,000769,000
13Jamaica2.67,0002,872,000
14Peru2.680,00031,377,000
15El Salvador2.516,0006,312,000
16Ecuador2.439,00016,144,000
17Suriname2.31,000553,000
18Bolivia, Plurinational State of2.123,00010,725,000
19Panama2.18,0003,969,000
20Brazil1.8369,000205,962,000
21Paraguay1.611,0006,639,000
22Argentina1.355,00043,418,000
23United States1.3403,000319,929,000
24Costa Rica1.36,0004,808,000
25Uruguay1.04,0003,432,000
26Chile0.814,00017,763,000
27Canada0.517,00035,950,000

Vulnerability within the Americas

Figure 1Regional average vulnerability scores by dimension, Americas
Regional average vulnerability scores by dimension, Americas

The average vulnerability score in the Americas (41 percent) suggests a higher risk of modern slavery in this region than is evident in the prevalence data. The Americas region performed relatively well on the dimensions that measure impact of conflict and acceptance of minority groups, with a better average score than other regions, but relatively poorly on the governance and the inequality dimensions, which can reflect increasing income inequality, significant problems associated with violent crime, and lower confidence in judicial systems (Figure 1). Across all dimensions of vulnerability, scores in the region ranged from a high of 70 percent in Haiti to a low of 10 percent in Canada.

Table 2Estimated vulnerability to modern slavery by country, Americas
Country Name
Governance issues
Lack of basic needs
Inequality
Disenfranchised groups
Effects of conflict
Overall weighted average
Haiti62.449.754.156.820.169.6
Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of65.119.760.434.327.857.9
Mexico47.323.759.037.868.857.3
Honduras55.526.558.936.532.755.5
Cuba60.225.937.647.817.352.4
Guatemala51.025.858.140.927.452.1
Colombia45.719.256.432.663.551.6
El Salvador50.523.059.843.622.750.7
Guyana49.525.660.428.112.445.4
Peru44.324.748.038.227.544.3
Jamaica39.524.262.247.815.544.2
Bolivia, Plurinational State of50.925.846.332.113.444.1
Nicaragua48.224.543.335.322.843.9
Dominican Republic42.528.746.138.821.843.1
Suriname55.510.750.828.116.342.1
Barbados47.614.352.547.89.241.9
Ecuador46.023.046.429.123.041.3
Paraguay38.321.064.732.722.740.9
Trinidad and Tobago38.613.062.447.813.739.1
Panama44.221.042.633.19.436.4
Brazil43.113.656.219.824.036.4
Argentina39.311.445.023.613.428.9
Costa Rica35.216.740.729.412.228.4
Chile28.513.850.023.520.325.6
Uruguay31.913.534.315.49.519.7
United States18.318.230.315.628.615.9
Canada16.620.720.19.221.510.2

Government responses within the Americas

Governments in the Americas have taken strong steps to respond to modern slavery, with improvements in victim identification mechanisms and support services. The Americas scores an average B rating, with countries such as Chile, Argentina, and Peru strengthening their national referral mechanisms and guidelines for identifying victims in recent years. Certain countries within the Americas, namely the US and Brazil, also lead the way globally on engaging with business. Brazil has been engaging with business to prevent trabalho escravo (slave labour) since 2005 with the launch of its National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labour, a multi-stakeholder initiative to engage national and international companies to maintain their supply chains free from slave labour.

Table 3Movements in the rating for the Americas 2016 to 2018
Country2016 RatingChange in Rating2018 Rating

United States

BBB*

BBB*

Argentina

BB

BBB

Chile

B

BBB

Canada

BB

BB

Jamaica

BB

BB

Dominican Republic

BB

BB

Brazil

BB

BB

Peru

B

BB

Mexico

BB

BB

Uruguay

B

BB

Costa Rica

BB

BB

Trinidad and Tobago

CCC

B

Ecuador

B

B

Nicaragua

B

B

Guatemala

B

B

Panama

CCC

B

Bolivia

CCC

B

Colombia

B

B

Paraguay

B

B

Haiti

CCC

CCC

Barbados

CCC

CCC

El Salvador

CCC

CCC

Honduras

CCC

CCC

Guyana

CCC

CCC

Venezuela

CC

CC

Suriname

CC

CC

Cuba

CC

CC

Antigua and Barbuda***




Bahamas***




Belize***




Dominica***




Grenada***




Saint Kitts and Nevis***




Saint Lucia***




Saint Vincent and the Grenadines***




*Countries that scored -1 on a negative indicator could not score above a BBB rating
**Not rated in 2016 Global Slavery Index
***Included for the first time in 2018, therefore a rating is not provided.
All data are still available via the Global Slavery Index website

Table 4Government response rating, milestone percentage, and total score by country, Americas
Credit ratingCountrySupport survivorsCriminal justiceCoordinationAddress riskSupply chaingsTOTAL
BBB*United States92.675.656.366.765.071.7
BBBArgentina70.070.662.578.60.062.6
BBBChile76.553.950.076.20.062.3
BBCanada52.472.875.061.90.058.6
BBJamaica50.672.875.064.30.058.6
BBDominican Republic69.178.337.569.00.058.0
BBBrazil38.947.887.573.826.755.6
BBPeru75.942.262.554.80.052.5
BBMexico53.762.856.369.00.052.4
BBUruguay40.649.450.078.60.050.4
BBCosta Rica53.741.762.559.50.050.0
BTrinidad and Tobago67.250.031.366.70.049.9
BEcuador61.155.637.552.40.046.4
BNicaragua34.470.025.066.70.046.3
BGuatemala42.225.662.569.00.045.2
BPanama32.660.031.378.60.043.9
BBolivia, Plurinational State of21.343.962.561.98.341.3
BColombia40.442.262.569.00.041.1
BParaguay26.156.737.571.410.040.9
CCCHaiti49.642.818.847.60.039.7
CCCBarbados53.326.137.545.20.039.4
CCCEl Salvador31.739.443.864.30.037.4
CCCHonduras27.625.662.554.80.037.0
CCCGuyana33.144.425.045.20.031.5
CCVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic of23.343.912.552.40.028.2
CCSuriname24.35.631.354.80.027.1
CCCuba13.015.018.842.90.020.8
No ratingAntigua and Barbuda      
No ratingBahamas      
No ratingBelize      
No ratingDominica      
No ratingGrenada      
No ratingSaint Kitts and Nevis      
No ratingSaint Lucia      
No ratingSaint Vincent and the Grenadines1      

*Indicates where a country could not score above a BBB. These countries have received a negative rating for policies that hinder their response to modern slavery.

Footnotes

1Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were included in our assessment of government responses in 2018, however as this was the first year we collected data for these countries we did not include their ratings in the GSI. Data collected can be found in the database at https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/data/.