Working under conditions similar to slavery is a crime and a serious violation of human rights, but it remains common throughout Brazil. And, with each new operation that rescues workers on farms, mines and charcoal works, the list of known calamities to which man submits man through the millenary method of exploitation through work increases.
The Observatory for the Eradication of Slave Labor and Trafficking in Persons gathers data from actions of public bodies since 1995. From that year to 2020, the total number of rescues was 55,712 people working without adequate equipment, without weekly rest, having to drink only water from the rain and even sleeping beside pigs and pigsties.
In the analysis, Pará was the state with the most rescues of people in this situation: 13,225 workers in the last 15 years, an average of 508 victims per year. In 2020, Minas Gerais was the state with the highest number of rescues, with 351 cases, followed by the Federal District, Pará, Goiás and Bahia.
::Illegal mining kept 80 people in Pará drinking rainwater and using the forest as a toilet::
Data from the International Labor Organization show that, worldwide, this type of human rights violation affects more than 25 million people, including women and children. At the other end, the act generates about $150 billion annually in illegal profits for the slave owners.
Workers among the pigs rescued in Pará
At the end of October, an inspection was made up of representatives of the Public Ministry of Labor in Pará and Amapá (MPT), the Labor Tax Audit, the Federal Public Defender’s Office (DPU) and the Federal Police (PF) in the municipalities of Itupiranga and Nova Ipixuna , in the southeast of the state of Pará, rescued 13 people in a work regime analogous to slavery.
During inspections on the farms, the team found several irregularities, the most serious of which were in relation to the appalling working and housing conditions. In one of them, whose activity was raising dairy cattle, workers slept in the corral.
In this shed, located about 100 meters from the employer’s house, there were four rooms on the sides, with dirt floors and wooden, masonry or straw walls: the first housed the pigs, the second a kind of makeshift kitchen where they also slept. a worker, beside another compartment with hammocks for sleeping, and the last was a chicken coop. At the back of the compartments, there was a pigsty and a lot of garbage.
Employees were forced to live with the strong odor of animal feces and under high temperatures, as the structure had a low ceiling made of fiber cement tiles and no ventilation. Workers began to sleep at the site earlier this year, and one of them, a few months later, started to have skin problems in the abdomen region.
The men slept in hammocks, which were provided by the owner, but not for free, they had to pay for them, according to the Public Ministry of Labor.
One of the workers reported that he had already witnessed rats in the environment, due to lack of adequate structure for food storage, and that they did not consume the local water, which came from a well, as it was a “pink cover”, when there is the presence of a species of rust. In order not to get thirsty, he always fetched water from his mother’s house, located about 2.5 km from the farm, and brought it to the lodging for consumption.
They didn’t have a refrigerator, so they salted the meat they ate as the only conservation and sanitary measure, in the heat of Pará. They didn’t have a bathroom or running water.
Labor Attorney Silvia Silva da Silva, a member of the MPT PA-AP’s specialized nucleus for combating slave labor, said that on the two farms in the two municipalities, people lived in terrible working and housing conditions. In Itupiranga, the farmer, owner of the land, was arrested in the act and will also be held liable for an environmental crime.
“There was a total disregard for the minimum precepts related to the issue of health, medicine and safety at work, as well as the elementary precepts related to food, housing provision, personal protection equipment were not respected” (see the video above).
::It’s not just in Pará: awarded producer and honorary citizen of the city of MG maintained a farm with slave labor::
fined for slave labor
When the labor inspection encounters situations like the one described above, employers are notified and summoned to appear at a hearing to pay the severance pay and are still criminally liable for their deeds.
In addition, the name of the employer, after the act is upheld, is included in a register, a “dirty list”. “This makes the employer suffer restrictions, especially regarding the embargo of international buyers, who do not want to have the brand linked to an exploratory chain of slave labor”, summarizes André Santos, from the Inspection Division for the Eradication of Slave Labor .
To report slave labor, just enter the website of the Public Ministry of Labor (MPT) or call the Dial 100, hotline for complaints about one of the oldest forms of human exploitation.
Edition: Vinícius Segalla