Modern-day Slavery in Brazil

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that there are currently at least 25.000 slaves in Brazil. Even though the efforts made in Brazil to eradicate it have been praised by the ILO in 2005, there is still a long way to go to effectively rid the country of this plague.

Slavery in Brazil is no longer directly associated with the colour of the skin as it happened during the colonial time, but to poverty and lack of opportunities. It’s done via a fraudulent debt, used as an excuse to keep workers in the farm while they "owe" money to the farmer.

They are forced to buy everything, from tools to food, from the farmer’s shop, with inflated prices. The debt is never cleared and the workers are trapped. Intimidation and violence are commonplace. The distance between these remote farms and the nearest human settlement also works as a real barrier against free movement.

When the Ministry of Labour's inspectors and the Federal Police raid such farms, the workers are freed and the farmers are forced to pay their wages. But those powerful farmers often get away with it, while thousands of destitute workers are being deprived of their basic rights. Their families never know their whereabouts as they are locked in cycles of debt-bondage and misery.

Even though 2007 celebrates the 200th anniversary of the fundamental landmark towards slavery abolition (the banning of slave trade by the British parliament in 1807), slavery has never been as intensively practiced as in present day.