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
1 Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of 5.6 174,000 31,155,000
2 Haiti 5.6 59,000 10,711,000
3 Dominican Republic 4.0 42,000 10,528,000
4 Cuba 3.8 43,000 11,461,000
5 Honduras 3.4 30,000 8,961,000
6 Trinidad and Tobago 3.0 4,000 1,360,000
7 Guatemala 2.9 47,000 16,252,000
8 Nicaragua 2.9 18,000 6,082,000
9 Barbados 2.7 1,000 284,000
10 Colombia 2.7 131,000 48,229,000
11 Mexico 2.7 341,000 125,891,000
12 Guyana 2.6 2,000 769,000
13 Jamaica 2.6 7,000 2,872,000
14 Peru 2.6 80,000 31,377,000
15 El Salvador 2.5 16,000 6,312,000
16 Ecuador 2.4 39,000 16,144,000
17 Suriname 2.3 1,000 553,000
18 Bolivia, Plurinational State of 2.1 23,000 10,725,000
19 Panama 2.1 8,000 3,969,000
20 Brazil 1.8 369,000 205,962,000
21 Paraguay 1.6 11,000 6,639,000
22 Argentina 1.3 55,000 43,418,000
23 United States 1.3 403,000 319,929,000
24 Costa Rica 1.3 6,000 4,808,000
25 Uruguay 1.0 4,000 3,432,000
26 Chile 0.8 14,000 17,763,000
27 Canada 0.5 17,000 35,950,000

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
Haiti 62.4 49.7 54.1 56.8 20.1 69.6
Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of 65.1 19.7 60.4 34.3 27.8 57.9
Mexico 47.3 23.7 59.0 37.8 68.8 57.3
Honduras 55.5 26.5 58.9 36.5 32.7 55.5
Cuba 60.2 25.9 37.6 47.8 17.3 52.4
Guatemala 51.0 25.8 58.1 40.9 27.4 52.1
Colombia 45.7 19.2 56.4 32.6 63.5 51.6
El Salvador 50.5 23.0 59.8 43.6 22.7 50.7
Guyana 49.5 25.6 60.4 28.1 12.4 45.4
Peru 44.3 24.7 48.0 38.2 27.5 44.3
Jamaica 39.5 24.2 62.2 47.8 15.5 44.2
Bolivia, Plurinational State of 50.9 25.8 46.3 32.1 13.4 44.1
Nicaragua 48.2 24.5 43.3 35.3 22.8 43.9
Dominican Republic 42.5 28.7 46.1 38.8 21.8 43.1
Suriname 55.5 10.7 50.8 28.1 16.3 42.1
Barbados 47.6 14.3 52.5 47.8 9.2 41.9
Ecuador 46.0 23.0 46.4 29.1 23.0 41.3
Paraguay 38.3 21.0 64.7 32.7 22.7 40.9
Trinidad and Tobago 38.6 13.0 62.4 47.8 13.7 39.1
Panama 44.2 21.0 42.6 33.1 9.4 36.4
Brazil 43.1 13.6 56.2 19.8 24.0 36.4
Argentina 39.3 11.4 45.0 23.6 13.4 28.9
Costa Rica 35.2 16.7 40.7 29.4 12.2 28.4
Chile 28.5 13.8 50.0 23.5 20.3 25.6
Uruguay 31.9 13.5 34.3 15.4 9.5 19.7
United States 18.3 18.2 30.3 15.6 28.6 15.9
Canada 16.6 20.7 20.1 9.2 21.5 10.2

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
Country 2016 Rating Change in Rating 2018 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 rating Country Support survivors Criminal justice Coordination Address risk Supply chaings TOTAL
BBB* United States 92.6 75.6 56.3 66.7 65.0 71.7
BBB Argentina 70.0 70.6 62.5 78.6 0.0 62.6
BBB Chile 76.5 53.9 50.0 76.2 0.0 62.3
BB Canada 52.4 72.8 75.0 61.9 0.0 58.6
BB Jamaica 50.6 72.8 75.0 64.3 0.0 58.6
BB Dominican Republic 69.1 78.3 37.5 69.0 0.0 58.0
BB Brazil 38.9 47.8 87.5 73.8 26.7 55.6
BB Peru 75.9 42.2 62.5 54.8 0.0 52.5
BB Mexico 53.7 62.8 56.3 69.0 0.0 52.4
BB Uruguay 40.6 49.4 50.0 78.6 0.0 50.4
BB Costa Rica 53.7 41.7 62.5 59.5 0.0 50.0
B Trinidad and Tobago 67.2 50.0 31.3 66.7 0.0 49.9
B Ecuador 61.1 55.6 37.5 52.4 0.0 46.4
B Nicaragua 34.4 70.0 25.0 66.7 0.0 46.3
B Guatemala 42.2 25.6 62.5 69.0 0.0 45.2
B Panama 32.6 60.0 31.3 78.6 0.0 43.9
B Bolivia, Plurinational State of 21.3 43.9 62.5 61.9 8.3 41.3
B Colombia 40.4 42.2 62.5 69.0 0.0 41.1
B Paraguay 26.1 56.7 37.5 71.4 10.0 40.9
CCC Haiti 49.6 42.8 18.8 47.6 0.0 39.7
CCC Barbados 53.3 26.1 37.5 45.2 0.0 39.4
CCC El Salvador 31.7 39.4 43.8 64.3 0.0 37.4
CCC Honduras 27.6 25.6 62.5 54.8 0.0 37.0
CCC Guyana 33.1 44.4 25.0 45.2 0.0 31.5
CC Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of 23.3 43.9 12.5 52.4 0.0 28.2
CC Suriname 24.3 5.6 31.3 54.8 0.0 27.1
CC Cuba 13.0 15.0 18.8 42.9 0.0 20.8
No rating Antigua and Barbuda            
No rating Bahamas            
No rating Belize            
No rating Dominica            
No rating Grenada            
No rating Saint Kitts and Nevis            
No rating Saint Lucia            
No rating Saint 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/.