Over 2,500 Brazilians Were Freed from Slavery in 2004

In 2004, 2,582 people were freed from slave-like labor conditions on 252 rural properties in Brazil. The Ministry of Labor’s Mobile Inspection Group carried out most of these operations in the states of Pará, Maranhão, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, and Bahia.

The indemnities paid to the workers total more than US$ 1.48 million (4 million reais).


During its nine years of activity, the Mobile Inspection Group has freed more than 13 thousand individuals from work situations similar to slavery.


The characterization of slave-like labor occurs when inspectors from the Ministry discover workers maintained in sub-human conditions.


In general, the workers are not allowed to leave the properties, don’t have signed working papers, are poorly housed, and drink the same water that the cattle drink.


According to the secretary of Work Inspection, Ruth Vilela, most of the workers found in these conditions are male adults between 35 and 45 years of age.


“They are underprivileged people, who accept these conditions for a complete lack of alternative ways to survive,” she says.


“Most of these individuals are invisible workers; they don’t even have birth certificates. In some of the more dramatic cases, they die without death certificates.”


Many of the activities of the Mobile Inspection Group are spurred by denunciations made to offices of the Ministry of Labor throughout the country or local groups of the Catholic Church’s Land Pastoral Commission.


Translation: David Silberstein
Reporter – Agência Brasil

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