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Message-ID: <APC&5'0'3e8fa20'894@ax.apc.org>
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 1995 07:34:20 -0500
Sender: NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information <NATIVE-L@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
Subject: Brazilian government recognizes slave labor Original Sender: cimi@ax.apc.org

Brazilian government recognizes slave labo

From Indianist Missionary Council—CIMI, Newsletter, n. 162, 8 June 1995

The Brazilian Government will set up, in June, an executive group to fight slave labor in Brazil. The decision, announced late in May by the minister of Labor, Paulo Paiva, at a public audience promoted by the Commissions of Minorities, Labor, Agriculture, and Human Rights of the Chamber of Deputies, shows that the government has finally surrendered to the evidence of the existence of this kind of labor in Brazil. A report issued by the Land Pastoral Commission (CPT) called Conflicts in Rural Areas - Brazil 1994 points out the growth of slave labor in Brazil, including the exploitation of Indian labor. This kind of crime, which was being constantly denounced by social movements and leftist parties, used to be officially regarded as an exaggeration of the actual situation. It was the society, however, that once again took concrete steps against such practice: through the National Forum Against Violence, it is launching the National Campaign against slave labor.

For over three years, CIMI has been denouncing the use of Indian slave labor. According to the entity, the sugarcane industry in Mato Grosso at one point relied on the slave and semislave labor of 7 thousand Indians belonging to the Guarani Kaoiwa, Terena, and Guarani Nhandeva peoples. Among them there were children who earned salaries corresponding to 50-60% of those received by the adults. In 1993, repeated denunciations from CPT and CIMI led that state to set up a Permanent Commission for Investigating and Inspecting Labor Conditions in Charcoal Kilns and Distilleries in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, which is made up of 11 state secretariats and agencies, 16 nongovernment organizations and also CPT, CIMI and the State Commission for the Defense of Human Rights.

The inspection carried out in plants and charcoal kilns has become more intense and, as a result, two police investigations have been opened. In spite of all this effort, labor relations remain below human standards. The Indians are fighting for labor rights, earn terribly low salaries in relation to the rest of the country and, in most cases. work under unsafe conditions. Because they are paid according to their production, they work over 12 hours a day without any break for lunch. Social movements expect the executive group to do more than simply recognize that the crime actually exists.