Brazil: For Some, Slavery Is the Only Option

 Brazil: For Some, Slavery Is the 
  Only Option

It is estimated that
between 25 and 40 thousand workers live under
slave-like conditions in Brazil. Inspections carried out by Brazil’s
Ministry of Labor’s discovered workers living in canvas tents,
eating poorly, and drinking the same dirty water as the animals.
A landowner remarked that the workers preferred it that way.
by: Andréia

Brazil’s Labor Court Prosecutors Office (MPT) liberated 32 workers submitted
to slave-like conditions on a farm belonging to Brazilian Senator João
Ribeiro, in the municipality of Pirraça, in the south of Pará
state. The workers were taken to the municipality of Araguaina, where they
testified before the Federal Police. The MPT intends to file a public civil
suit in the Labor Court system of Pará for the reparation of damages
suffered by the workers.

The head of the MPT’s
National Coordinating Body to Combat Slave Labor, Luís Antônio
Camargo de Melo, informed that the mobile group arrived at the senator’s farm
after receiving denunciations that the workers were restricted in their right
to come and go, but when the MPT began its investigation, it wasn’t aware
that it had to do with a senator.

The Constitutional amendment
proposal that sanctions expropriation of properties where there is proof of
slave labor should be ratified by the end of the month at the latest, informed
Deputy Luiz Eduardo Greenhalgh.

According to Greenhalgh,
approval in record time of the bill’s constitutionality, in the Constitution
and Justice Commission, demonstrates the Chamber’s desire to move ahead with
the proposal "to clean up slave labor in Brazil."

The legislator recalled
that the president of the Chamber, João Paulo Cunha, has already initiated
the time period for enrollment in the special commission which will debate
the merits of the bill. But, in Greenhalg’s opinion, "there should be
no resistance, because the great majority is in favor of promulgating the
amendment, which has been under discussion since 1995 and has already been
approved in the Senate."

Is Champion

The state of Maranhão
is the national slave labor champion, according to the president of the Açailândia
Center for the Defense of Life and Human Rights, Carmem Bacaran. Last year
alone, over 700 workers were freed after formal accusations were filed with
the Ministry of Labor.

A group of inspectors
from the Ministry are expected to investigate accusations of slave labor in
three charcoal works and a farm in the municipality. Maranhão also
exports slave labor to other states, according to Bacaran. In Pará,
for example, around 43 percent of the workers submitted to such conditions
come from Maranhão.

Created seven years ago,
the Center for the Defense of Life and Human Rights is a non-governmental
organization that works to combat slave labor. The Center is also gathering
data on the existence of the problem in charcoal works situated in the Tocantins

Minister Nilmário
Miranda, of the Special Secretariat for Human Rights, believes that by 2006
slave-like labor will only exist sporadically, in isolated instances in Brazil.

February 12, at the close
of a seminar on slave-like labor sponsored by Radiobrás, in conjunction
with the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Minister said that the
government is devoted to the eradication of slave-like labor in the country.
"It is not enough to think only in terms of combating it," he pointed
out. "I believe that when the President said that we are going to eradicate
it, we will really eradicate it," he added.

Miranda affirmed that
various steps are being taken, such as the circulation of a "black list"
of 54 landowners whom labor inspection officials have cited for maintaining
workers in slave-like conditions on their properties. These landowners are
prohibited from receiving government loans. The Minister also emphasized the
importance of passing the Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) that permits
the expropriation of properties where slave-like labor is used. "It will
be a mortal blow," he underscored.

The Minister also said
that the government is determined to punish the masterminds and gunmen responsible
for the murder of three Ministry of Labor inspectors and a driver late last
month in Unaí, northeast Minas Gerais state. "They left a lot
of trails, and people are speaking up," he said.

It is estimated
that between 25 and 40 thousand workers live under slave-like
conditions in the country. The chief characteristic that identifes
slave-like labor is the restriction of freedom. Cláudia
Márcia Brito, from the Secretariat of Labor Inspection,
said that the form of slavery that exists nowadays is crueler
than the tradition form. "The contemporary slave is expendable,"
she declared.

Brito has already taken
part in various inspections carried out by the Ministry of Labor’s mobile
group that checks the existence of slave-like labor on rural properties. She
said she discovered various workers living in canvas tents, eating poorly,
and drinking the same dirty water as the animals on the property. She said
that during one of the visits she heard a landowner remark that it did no
good to offer filtered water to the workers, since they preferred the dirty
water. The same landowner also admitted that the corral was cleaner and better
cared for than the lodgings occupied by his employees, but that the workers
liked it that way, Brito reported.

In her view, passage of
the PEC that will permit land confiscation is very important and will serve
as an educational tool. "We know that employers act only their pocketbooks
are stirred," she affirmed. She also said that the only victim of slavery
in Brazil is the worker. "He is not a slave because he wants to, but
for complete lack of opportunity," she concluded.

of employers and companies punished for slave work:

State – Employer
– Farm – Number of Workers

Alagoas – Lima Araújo
Agropecuária Ltda – Fazenda Estrela de Alagoas – 59
Maranhão – Açaí
Florestal Ltda – Fazenda Medalha – 265
Maranhão – Agro
Industrial Nova Aurora Ltda – Fazenda Nova Aurora – 203
Maranhão – André
Mitsuo Igarashi – Fazenda Igarashi – 168
Maranhão – Antônio
das Graças Almeida Murta – Fazenda Lagoinha – 65
Maranhão – Florestal
Maracaçumé Ltda – Fazenda Entre Rios – 86
Maranhão – Gilberto
Andrade – 36
Maranhão – Inocêncio
Gomes de Oliveira – Fazenda Caraíbas – 56
Maranhão – Miguel
de Souza Rezende – Fazenda Zonga – 70
Mato Grosso – Destilaria
Gameleira – Fazenda Gameleira – 318
Mato Grosso – Edmilson
José Cesílio – Agropecuária Progresso Agropol – 98

Mato Grosso – José
Gilberto Borges de Freitas – Faz. Stº André Agropec. Fischer –
Mato Grosso – Josemar da
Costa Filho – Fazenda Marcélia IV e V – 30
Mato Grosso – Sebastião
Doujas Xavier – Fazenda Santa Luzia – 129
Mato Grosso – Sebastião
Vieira – Faz. Gleba Porta do Amazonas – 35
Pará – Agropecuária
Carajás Ltda – Fazenda Primavera – 248
Pará – Agropec São
Roberto S.A – Fazenda São Roberto 186
Pará – Agropecuária
Umuarama Ltda – Fazenda Santa Fé – 118
Pará – ATS Serviços
Ltda ME – Fazenda Tuerê – 127
Pará – Aziz Mutran
Neto – Fazenda Mutamba – 48
Pará – Carmo Guimarães
Giffone – Fazenda Acapulco – 62
Pará – Constantino
de Oliveira Guimarães – Fazenda Colorado – 23
Pará – Divino Andrade
Vieira – Fazenda Santa Luzia Tuerê II – 52
Pará – Ediones Bannach
– Fazenda 5 Irmãos – 77
Pará – Eurélio
Piazza – Faz. Diadema IV ou Faz. Surucucu – 18
Pará – Eutimo Lippaus
– Fazenda 1200 (Fazenda Boa Fé) – 36
Pará – Fernando
Luiz Quagliato – Fazenda Rio Vermelho – 167
Pará – Francisco
Donato Linhares de Araújo – 60
Pará – Humberto
Rubens Cansanção Filho Fazenda Ouro Verde – 43
Pará – Iolandes
Bannach – Fazenda e Irmãos – 26
Pará – Jairo Carlos
Borges – Fazenda Ouro Preto – 27
Pará – Jairo de
Andrade – Fazenda Forkilha – 97
Pará – Jorge Multran
Exportação e Imp. Ltda – Fazenda Castanhal Cabaceiras – 47

Pará – José
Coelho Vitor – Fazenda Santa Lúcia – 133
Pará – José
Humberto de Oliveira – Fazenda Palmar – 20
Pará – José
Vaz da Costa – Fazenda N. S. Aparecida – 90
Pará – Lima Araújo
Agropecuária Ltda – Fazenda Estrela de Maceió – 60
Pará – Márcio
Carvalho Ribeiro – Fazenda Primavera – 97
Pará – Marcus Ribeiro
de Carvalho – Fazenda Taguará – 77
Pará – Miguel Vieira
Mesias – Fazenda Boca Quente – 13
Pará – Milton Alonso
– Fazenda Dona Francisca – 25
Pará – Newton Cunha
Lemos & Outros – Fazenda Marapaí – 64
Pará – Pedro Lopes
Lima – Fazenda Pai Eterno – 77
Pará – Reinaldo
José Zucatelli – Fazenda Sol Nascente – 71
Pará – Roberto Castanheira
de Oliveia Silva – Fazenda Ribeirão Bonito – 23
Pará – Romualdo
Alves Coleho – Fazenda São Paulo – 55
Pará – Roque Quagliato
– Fazenda Colorado – 81
Pará – Sandra Nancy
de Souza Cunha – Fazenda Buriti II – 27
Pará – Senor Ltda
– Fazenda Senor – 153
Pará – Vale Bonito
Agro Pecuária S. A. – 88
Pará – Wellington
Francisco Rosa – Fazenda Maranata 76
Pará – Wilson Moreira
Torres – Fazenda Rio Lages – 27

Andréia Araújo works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official
press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at

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