Rising gold prices have led to the expansion of illegal gold mining in Peru's southwestern Amazon region. This is accompanied by an increase in sex trafficking of Indigenous girls and women from the southern Andes. This article focuses on the emerging economic and cultural connections that span Andean and Amazonian mining and sex trafficking migration in the region. The notion of precarity is applied to assess victims’ agency within a racialized, neoliberal, informal labor market at the fringes of global capitalism. In tracing the trajectory of trafficked adolescents from highlands to lowlands and, in some cases, into state-run shelters, the role of padrinazgo (patronage of godparents) is explored. It is argued that trafficked subjects’ choices are circumscribed by padrinazgo-type relationships with traffickers, according to which they pursue a “preferred precarity” across competing existential, vocational, and subjective states.
|Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
|Published - 2023