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25,000 Slaves Mine And Log The Brazilian Amazon Forest - Guardian

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 11:14 AM
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25,000 Slaves Mine And Log The Brazilian Amazon Forest - Guardian
"An estimated 25,000 people are working as slave labourers in Brazil clearing the Amazon jungle for ranchers, or producing pig iron in the forest using charcoal smelters, according to a study. An unpublished report for the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation (ILO) concludes that despite the best efforts of the government of President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva to free slaves and prosecute offenders the level of lawlessness in the country's interior means that the practice continues.

The report also uncovers a new area of labour "analogous to slavery", where men, women and children who are illegal immigrants from Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay are working in sweatshops in Sao Paulo. Workshop owners are part of a flourishing cheap clothes industry that uses the fear of deportation to enforce harsh conditions under which people are sometimes locked up where they work and sleep.

The Guardian was passed a copy of the report because anti-slavery campaigners feared that the ILO was suppressing it. They believe that officials are nervous of criticism of the organisation's failure to make an impact on the situation.


The ILO employed five researchers to travel to the remote parts of Brazil. Ms Rocha says in the introduction it was impossible to read the reports of government inspectors and interviews with workers "without feeling profoundly ashamed that in the 21st century so many Brazilians are being treated not like animals, but worse than animals". She describes how slave workers live in hovels under plastic sheets without sanitation, with the job of clearing the forest for soya bean plantations and cattle. In the charcoal smelters they work without protective clothing in extreme heat. "They work from dawn till dusk, sometimes seven days a week. They have been recruited with the promise of good pay, but they find themselves trapped into debt."

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