The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture rejects the use of workers in slave-like conditions, as recently discovered in wineries and rice fields in Rio Grande do Sul. It is unacceptable that, 135 years after being the country to abolish slavery, Brazil still harbors companies that insist on continuing these inhumane and criminal practices.
According to the Brazilian Labor Inspection Information and Statistics Panel, 78% of the 60,000 people found in slave-like conditions between 1995 and 2022 were in rural areas. To this day, in attempts to exempt themselves from responsibility, companies that have been accused claim that the workers are “outsourced”, as if they were not ultimately profiting from these people’s rights deprivation.
As long as people are subjected to slave-like conditions, we will not be a truly modern, prosperous, and sustainable country. Strengthening the monitoring and inspection agencies is necessary, particularly the Special Mobile Inspection Group for Slave Labor Eradication, and investing in raising awareness among rural workers about their rights and assurances for a dignified work practice.
Brazil is an agro-environmental powerhouse that is proud of the different agribusiness segments’ achievements over the past decades. However, these figures and the recent cases of major national and international repercussions tarnish the country’s public image and highlight that we still have a long way to go when it concerns the respect and dignity of rural workers.