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Human Rights in Brazil, Network for Social Justice and Human Rights, 2008

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Human Rights in Brazil 2008
A Report by
Network for Social Justice and Human Rights

Human Rights in Brazil 2008
A Report by the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights
Edited by: Evanize Sydow e Maria Luisa Mendonça
Photos: João Roberto Ripper
Graphic Design: Carlos Vasconcelos Pitombo
Administrative Assistance: Marta Soares, Magali Godói e Silvana Silva
Translation Editor and Coordinator:
Sheila Rutz
Translators: Ariane Dalla Déa, Ayla Tiago, Bethany Bloomston, Bruce
Gilbert, Chad J. Ribordy, Charlotte Casey, Jamie Wick, Sheila Rutz, Siobhan
Heinrich Böll Foundation

Network for Social Justice and Human Rights
Address:Rua Castro Alves, 945
01532-001, São Paulo, SP
Phone: 55-11-32711237 - Fax: 55-11-32714878

Table of contents

Preface .................................................................................. 009
Kenarik Boujikian Felippe
Introduction ............................................................................ 011

I. Human Rights in the Countryside
Agrarian Policy under Lula Administration ..................................... 019
José Juliano de Carvalho Filho
Fighting for Human Rights is Not a Crime ...................................... 027
Antônio Canuto
Criminalization of Social Movements in Brazil ................................. 035
Aton Fon Filho e Suzana Angélica Paim Figueredo
“State of Emergency” in Rio Grande do Sul and the criminalization of the
MST ...................................................................................... 039
Leandro Gaspar Scalabrin
Denial of Rights in the “World Ethanol Capital” .............................. 057
Maria Aparecida de Mores Silva e Jadir Damião Ribeiro
Impacts of Expansion of Sugarcane Monocropping for Ethanol Production
............................................................................................ 063
Maria Luisa Mendonça
Enslaved by debt: Debates on an Old Problem .............................. 079
Ricardo Rezende Figueira e Adonia Antunes Prado
Indigenous Peoples: from Rights Won to Rights Contested .............. 089
Paulo Maldos



Building Consensus and Consultation with Quilombola Peoples in Brazil,
International Labor Organization Convention 169 .......................... 099
Cíntia Beatriz Müller
Quilombola rights violated by the Brazilian State ........................... 109
Roberto Rainha
Social Equity in the Use of Water ............................................... 119
Roberto Malvezzi

II. Human Rights in Urban Areas
Security, Rights, and Violence in Rio de Janeiro ............................. 127
Atila Roque
Actions and Omissions in Public Safety: an Analysis of São Paulo state
............................................................................................ 131
Adriana Loche e Leandro Siqueira
Incarcerated female: the women’s prison system of Brazil .............. 137
Lívia Gimenes Dias da Fonseca e Luciana de Souza Ramos
Prosecution of Women for Abortion in Mato Grosso do Sul: a Question of
Human and Reproductive rights .................................................. 145
Beatriz Galli e Carmen Hein Campos
Migrant Women in Brazil ............................................................ 151
Luiz Bassegio e Luciane Udovic
Violations of Human Rights of Children and Adolescents in Brazil ...... 155
Maria Helena Zamora

III. Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
The Right to Work in Brazil ........................................................ 165
Clemente Ganz Lúcio e Joana Cabete Biava
Human Rights of the Black Population: 120 years later ................... 175
Douglas E. Belchior



Education, the Market and Human Rights ..................................... 181
Mariângela Graciano e Sérgio Haddad
The Human Right to Adequate Food in Brazil ................................ 185
Enéias da Rosa e Sofia Monsalve
The Dangers of Uranium Extraction ............................................. 191
Zoraide Villasboas

IV. International Policy and Human Rights
The Last Year of the Bush Era ................................................... 199
Maria Luisa Mendonça
IIRSA and the financial Crisis: a Chance for Reflection, Discussion and
Resistance .............................................................................. 205
Igor Fuser
Transnational corporations and Human Rights Violations: the Case of Atlântico Steel Company in Sepetiba Bay ............................................ 212
Sandra Quintela e Karina Kato
Our Cries, Our Voices, for a World without Walls ........................... 217
Luciane Udovic e Luiz Bassegio



With the annual publication of this report, the Network for Social Justice and
Human Rights is fulfilling its role of responding to a demand for action and
coordination of human rights violation claims, guided by the ethical benchmark of
human dignity.
The word “network” gives the idea of interlacing. Its work is the result of the
experience of various organizations and grassroots movements, which collaborated
with their knowledge and accomplishments. This reminds us that one of the functions
of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights is to provide support to
grassroots movements in conflict situations. In this regard, the Report is a tool in the
struggle to achieve basic rights. It allows us to nourish ourselves with hope for the
construction of another possible world.
The current global economic policies are not sustainable. Today, two-thirds of
the world population live below the poverty line; nearly 3 billion people live on a
monthly income of less than US$60; more than 25% of the population do not have
access to potable water, and at least one in seven persons goes hungry every day.
For the most part, this is the result of not having access to basic rights, such as
education, land or work.
This Report revisits some of the themes developed in prior reports,
demonstrating that the struggle for human rights is a process. This year, the book
specifically introduces new topics related to gender issues, such as the situation of
incarcerated women, the criminalization of abortion, and the situation of migrant
women, which helps us to understand how violence and discrimination affects


women, as well as its relation with the lack of income distribution, work and
education opportunities, as well as political representation.
Some of the themes dealt with in the Report clearly indicate the need for deep
reflection on the role of our legal system in maintaining impunity in cases of human
rights violations. This is the case of human rights violations against landless workers,
as we see in Rio Grande do Sul, where MST members are being investigated under the
framework of the National Security Law because of their struggle for agrarian reform.
The common theme that unites all organizations that contributed to this Report is
the idea that human beings should have a life of dignity. To achieve this, we need to
demand government policies based on a truly democratic system, which respects all
rights as indivisible.
To this end, the report Human Rights in Brazil is an important tool.

Kenarik Boujikian Felippe, Court Judge in São Paulo, co-founder and former-president
of the Association of Judges for Democracy, former-president of the Latin American and
Caribbean Association of Judges for Democracy.


In 2008, the Report on Human Rights in Brazil celebrates its ninth edition. Once
again, the work presents a wide panorama of themes linked to human rights. There are
26 articles with important data and analyses on, for example, the right to land, to education,
to work, and to social justice over these last years, and especially with regard to the
situation in 2008.
One of the most notable focal points was the virulent racist wave against indigenous
peoples that has spread throughout the country, as shown in the article by the Missionary
Indigenous Council: “With its nationalist façade, this wave managed to garner support,
or at least the complicit silence, of traditional sectors engaged in fighting in defense of
indigenous peoples and grassroots sectors. Based on a local situation, that of the private
interests of those invading State lands (such as indigenous lands), in 2008 part of Brazilian
society came to look at indigenous peoples as enemies. The constitutional rights of the
indigenous peoples came to be seen as privileges that should be urgently reviewed by
the National Congress; the ONU (UN) came to be seen as an imperialist threat and
neighboring countries as potential enemies.”
For the third year, the Director of the Brazilian Association for Agrarian Reform,
José Juliano de Carvalho Filho, analyzes the agrarian policy of the Lula government.
“The historical, unjust, and atrocious characteristics of the agrarian structure are maintained
over time, year after year and government after government. Government actions may
vary, but still have the same effects of inequitable land distribution. The benefits of
governmental support continue to be absorbed first and foremost by large landholders
and corporations.”
With respect to slave labor, the report shows, through the collaboration of Ricardo
Rezende and Adônia Prado, who are members of UFRJ’s Contemporary Slave Labor
Research Group, that between January and September of 2008, there were 179
denunciations of rural production units engaged in slave labor, involving 5,203 workers.


Between 2003 and September 2008, coinciding with the Lula administration, there were
1,446 denunciations. In the same period, the number of potentially enslaved people was
42,526 and, of these, 26,318 were freed. The state considered the “champion” in slavery
has been Pará. Other states that appear with regularity in last the six years are Mato
Grosso, Maranhão, Tocantins and Goiás. In 2008, by the end of September, the only
region of the country without any denunciations of slavery was the Southeast. The
region with the highest percentage of cases was the Center-West (31.6%).
The denial of rights for sugarcane workers in the State of São Paulo is dealt with in
an article by Maria Aparecida de Moraes Silva and Jadir Damião Ribeiro. “Case analysis
revealed that the precarious state of labor relations in the cane fields exists by reason of
the large supply of labor coming from other states, on the one hand, and, on the other,
the flexibilization of labor standards. The workers have a low level of education, which
means their knowledge and access to their labor rights is restricted,”state the researchers.
The report shows that education, a universal human right, is being gradually disputed
by market interests. “The idea has gained strength that private institutions have much to
offer with regard to expanding access to early childhood, secondary and higher education,
still not yet universal in Brazil” analyze Sérgio Haddad and Mariângela Graciano of
Education Action.
Problems related to police brutality in São Paulo are also presented in the Report.
Social scientists Adriana Loche and Leandro Siqueira, of the Santo Dias Human Rights
Center of the São Paulo Archdiocese, write: “When the number of deaths caused by
police in the first half of 2007 is compared with the figure for the first half of 2008, the
number increased by 21.9%, rising from 201 deaths in 2007 to 245 deaths in 2008. On
the other hand, the number of police killed in these confrontations went down from 15
to 14. The proportion of deaths was 11.4 civilians for every police death. Following a
downward trend, the number of murders in the state fell 13% in the first half of 2008
compared to the same period in 2007.”
Attorneys Beatriz Galli and Carmen Hein Campos analyze the case of thousands of
women being prosecuted for practicing abortion in Mato Grosso do Sul, in addition to
mapping out the situation in Brazil, in view of the fact that it is estimated that more than
1 million abortions are performed each year. “There are about 250,000 hospitalizations
per year due to abortion complications. Its illegality comes at a high price for the public
health system, costing the country around 35 million Reais per year. Unsafe abortion is
one of the main avoidable causes of maternal death in Brazil, and it reveals a pattern of
inequality and social injustice. Maternal death due to unsafe abortion practices, and the
health complications that they generate exacerbate the unequal access to health care, due
to socioeconomic reasons, ethnicity, and racial discrimination.”


Researchers Lívia Gimenes da Fonseca and Luciana de Souza Ramos outline the
women’s prison system in Brazil. “The characteristics of incarcerated women in Brazil
today show that they are young, of African descent, and in the majority serving prison
time for drug trafficking. The women who are serving prison time experience lack of
family support, with no guarantee of partner visitation or remaining with any children
born during their prison term, which demonstrates the double punishment of women.”
The article also shows that, in São Paulo, almost half of the incarcerated women wait
more than a year to move to a prison location, compared to 36.9% of men in the same
situation, and that generally they “opt for staying in a crowded jail in order to stay close
to their family and children.”
International politics and human rights are highlighted in the last section of the
report. Some of the issues included were the impacts of the Initiative for Integration of
South American Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA), and an assessment of policies
implemented during the last year of the “Bush Era” in Latin America.



The number of settled families continues to fall. In 2007, 66,983
families were settled. In 2008, up to November 7th, 21,058 families
were settled in 1,960 projects. Of these, only 70 are new projects
(created in 2008), with the settlement of 3,643 families. The Agrarian
Ombudsman’s Office continues to record murders in the countryside.
From 2001 to 2007, 534 murders were recorded. These numbers
confirm the inadequate performance of the Lula government’s
agrarian policy.

Agrarian Policy under Lula Administration
José Juliano de Carvalho Filho*
“(…)We are many Severinos
equal in everything in life…”
(João Cabral de Melo Neto—Morte e Vida Severina)

In the last three years, in this same space, we have had the opportunity to
follow the agrarian policy of the Lula government. It has been our honor to do
so, given that it entails collaboration in the public debate on the Brazilian agrarian
policy. On the other hand, dear reader, it is a task that is often frustrating and even
revolting. The historical, unjust, and atrocious characteristics of the agrarian structure
are maintained over time, year after year and government after government.
Government actions may vary, but still with the same effects of inequitable land
distribution. The benefits continue to be absorbed first and foremost by large
*José Juliano de Carvalho Filho is an economist, a retired professor at FEA-USP and Director of ABRA (Brazilian Association
for Agrarian Reform). He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Social Network for Justice and Human Rights.



enterprises. For the Severinos there are only palliative, ineffective and non-structural
measures. For the majority of the rural population, the situation is still as masterfully
described in João Cabral de Melo Neto’s poem 1 “…this is the portion given to
you on this estate./It is not a large hole/It is a mid-size hole./it is the land that
you wanted to see divided.”
The above citation is not given to dramatize the situation of the landless and/
or peasants. It helps us express the real drama lived by a large part of the rural
population, with a trend toward worsening.
The Lula government doesn’t stray from the norm when compared to the
There is real policy and fairy-tale policy. As Professor Francisco de Oliveira
tells us, inspired by Framisci, “Those that are dominated control the lesser policy
(…) since it doesn’t affect large-scale capital interests, or large-scale policy…”2
In the 2005 Report we noted the hope arising from the National Agrarian
Reform Plan (PNRA), but it was rejected by the government. In that same article,
we already registered disenchantment. The government abandoned the pretense
of setting up an agrarian policy with structural clout.
The article published in the 2006 Report confirmed what had been anticipated.
The proposal for agrarian reform with the potential to alter structures in the
countryside and upend the situation of injustice and exclusion was evaded over
time. The promise of “wide, massive, and quality agrarian reform” passed into
the realm of fairytales.
In last year’s Report we concluded that the Brazilian agrarian policy as based
on the “agribusiness model.” At the time we affirmed that “the prevalence of this
model, in the absence of a national project with adequate public control, defined
the agrarian question of the present day.” We likewise stated that this policy “was
characterized by strong aggravation of the old effects of the advance of capital
in detriment to the workers and peasants.” We spoke about the concentration of
land ownership, loss of biodiversity, reduction of poly-cultivation, aggravation
of the exploitation of labor, slave labor, deaths due to exhaustion, migration of
rural workers, the expansion of sugarcane plantation in the Amazon, pollution of
water sources, violence of rural militia groups, reduction of agricultural
employment, lack of food security, increased agrarian conflicts, and inefficacy of
public policies.
João Cabral de Melo Neto, “Morte e Vida Severina” (Life and Death of Severino)
Francisco de Oliveira: Critical reasoning against the cynicism of those without reason. Interview given to Professors Jaldes Reis de
Meneses (DH-UFPB) and Maria Aparecida Ramos (DSS-UFPB). Economists Group, 10/IX/2008.




In 2008 the predilection for agribusiness was not only confirmed, it was deepened.
Let’s look at the chief facts that prove this statement.3

Provisional Measure 410
On December 28th, 2007, the government issued Provisional Measure (MP)
410 “that provided for, among other issues, dispensing with the obligation to
make entries in the Work Record Cards of rural workers who perform temporary
work. According to its terms, in order to hire rural workers for up to two months,
it is sufficient to draw up a written contract. If the term of two months were to
be exceeded in a given year, the labor contract would be considered with an
indefinite term. In other words, the government was trying to impose so-called
flexibility for short-term rural work, with evident benefits for employers (especially
in sugarcane plantations).”4
MP 410 was strongly contested by representatives of rural social movements,
particularly Via Campesina and the Federation of Rural Workers of the State of
São Paulo (FERAESP). The workers were concerned about the possibility of the
measure aggravating even further the precarious labor relations in the countryside,
as well as making it difficult to investigate cases of slave labor. Some jurists5 also
indicated that the measure might make investigative work difficult, with the
proliferation of ambiguous situations, and defended the obligation to make entries
on the Work Card.
This Provisional Measure became Law No. 11.718/2008, which toned down
the exemption on signed cards for rural workers, although it had created a shortterm rural worker contract. It also established transitory standards regarding
retirement of rural workers and extended the term for contracting rural financing.
The original Provisional Measure was toned down, but the intention was revealed.

Provisional Measure 422
The statement that the government has a preference for agribusiness was again
proven with the issuance of MP 422 by the Lula government in March, and
approved in July. This permits INCRA to give title directly, without bidding, to
properties in Legal Amazonia with up to 15 rural modules or 1,500 hectares.6
For presentation of the facts we used work performed by students of the subject. These authors will be cited for each item.
Boletim de Políticas Sociais (Bulletin of Social Policies), No. 16, of IPEA, Brancolina Ferreira “Agrarian Policy.”
According to an interview with Labor Judge and member of the National Association of Labor Magistrates, Zéu Palmeira, given
to the NP Agency on March 15, 2008.
The referenced draft conversion law alters Law no.8.666 of June 21, 1993, which instituted standards for bidding and public
administration contracts (Bidding Law).



In this regard, we draw attention to an article by Professor Ariovaldo Umbelino
de Oliveira, our colleague at ABRA, who follows and analyzes the land issues in
Brazil and Amazonia (in particular) with great competence and courage.
Professor Umbelino says: “Now, with signature of Provisional Measure 422,
which again alters Law No. 8.666, the alienation of public property of the Union
by dispensing with bidding, is up to 15 fiscal modules. As the majority of the
municipalities of Legal Amazonia have modules of 100 hectares, the exclusion
from bidding comes to almost 1,500 hectares (…) the Lula government is doing
what no government, after the military regime did: ‘selling’ to agribusiness more
than 50 million hectares of public lands in Amazonia, which should be reserved
for Agrarian Reform, demarcation of indigenous or quilombola lands, creation
of units of environmental conservation.”

Land Policy for Amazonia – IRFAN
The considerations presented here are, in large part, extracted from the analysis
performed by Gerson Teixeira9 , a specialist in the subject. The referenced
document analyzed the “proposed Provisional Measure (MP) that originated with
the Office of Strategic Matters of the Presidency (SAE), with provisions for the
creation of the Amazon Land Regulation Institute—IRFAM, and on substantive
changes to INCRA’s prerogatives in the region, as well as on essential land policy
topics by means of changes to the Land Statute – Law No. 4.504 of 1964.”

The principal changes envisioned in the proposed MP are
as follows:
· Creation of IRFAM (a federal public authority) with the mission of
administering land policy in the region of operations of SUDAM, which includes
the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins,
Pará, and Maranhão west of the 44 th Meridian;
· Section 1 of Article 2 of the proposed MP determines that INCRA’s powers
in Amazonia would be restricted “to settlements and agrarian reform.” However,
Item II of the same provision sets “standardization,” supervision, acquisition,
expropriation, alienation, and concession of rural real estate in Amazonia as being
Ariovaldo Umbelino de Oliveira – “Provisional Measure 422 of the Lula Government and Legalization of the Appropriation of
Public Lands in Amazonia.”
Gerson Teixeira – “The Draft of a Provisional Measure Altering Land Use Policy for the Amazon.” The proposed weakening of
INCRA, set in the draft MP, is analogous to the recent dismemberment of IBAMA. In this case, the Chico Mendes Institute was
created for the purpose of streamlining the environmental licensing procedures required for PAC’s works. However this may be, it also
is intended to benefit capital in the process of integrating Amazonia within the agri-business model.



within IRFAM’s powers. That is, once the MP is in effect, INCRA will lose its
influence on land acquisition processes.
· Besides the above powers, IRFAM will also have full responsibility for the
processes of discrimination, collection, application, and incorporation within the
public domain of unoccupied lands in Amazonia, as well as jurisdiction with regard
to leasing and acquisition of lands by foreigners. In this latter case, the proposed
MP confers the regulatory character of Article 190 of the Federal Constitution
specifically for Amazonia, which fact, despite its flagrant unconstitutionality,
evidences the efforts for removal of all obstacles for capital investment in that
region, whatever its origin.

Creation of Gesinpra10
“Bill No. 346/2007, authored by Deputy Eduardo Sciarra (DEM-PR), covers the
creation of a deliberative council called Gesinpra, destined to manage the “National
System of Registration of the Agrarian Reform Program” (SINPRA), the purpose of
which is to serve as a base for selection of candidates for agrarian reform. The Bill was
approved on May 7, 2008, in the Commission of Agriculture, Ranching, Supply and
Rural Development of the Chamber of Deputies, and was then sent on to the
Commission on the Constitution, Justice, and Citizenship (CCJ) with a terminative
character. If approved in the CCJ, it will not need to be voted on in a plenary session.”
“Its most delicate point is that it anticipates exclusion from the agrarian reform
process of anyone who invades public buildings or lands, because it can thus,
according to its author, “give privilege to persons who have some vocation and experience
with the land or training in its cultivation.” Although the administration of the system
falls to Gesinpra 11, INCRA is in charge of its being carried out, maintained, and
publicized, with credentialed municipal governments being among the entities that
can perform registrations with Sinpra.”
The bill, besides representing a direct intervention in INCRA’s prerogatives,
hampers the social movements that are fighting for access to land. It ratifies and
strengthens the restrictions in force since the Cardoso administration (Decree No.
2250 of June 11, 1997).
Text authored by Brancolina Ferreira, extracted from the Boletim de Políticas Sociais (Social Policies Bulletin) 16 of
IPEA (in process of publication).
The deliberative council will be made up of representatives of eight entities: the Ministry of Agrarian Development, who will preside;
the National Settlement and Agrarian Reform Institute (INCRA); the Ministry of Agriculture, Ranching, and Supply; the
Ministry of Justice; the Commission on Agriculture, Ranching, and Rural Development of the Chamber of Deputies; the National
Agriculture Confederation (CAN); the National Confederation of Family Agricultural Workers (CONTAG); and the Organization
of Brazilian Cooperatives (OCB).



Offensive Against Social Movements: Public Ministry of Rio
Grande do Sul
This information merits special attention. We therefore reproduce below a
part of the excellent text by IPEA researcher Brancolina Ferreira.
“The minutes of the meeting held December 3, 2007, by the Superior Council
of the Rio Grande do Sul Public Ministry records approval of a series of sanctions
against the Landless Workers Movements (MST), having as their ultimate objective
the dissolution thereof and the closure of its schools, as well as recommendation
of investigation of the actions of INVRA, CONAB, and Via Campesina in that
state. The three-page document recommends various measures, such as: deterring
marches and movement of agricultural workers; deactivation of camps;
investigation of camp residents and managers with regard to the use of public
funds; intervention in MST schools; prevention of the presence of children and
adolescents in the camps; and verification of the variances for land purposes at
the settlements. It also suggests the cancellation of the electoral enrollment of
landless agricultural workers in the regions in conflict and formulation of an official
policy by the Public Ministry for the purpose of “protecting legality in the
countryside.” In order to fulfill these resolutions it proposes the creation of a task
force for the purpose of “promoting a public civil action aimed at dissolution of
the MST and declaration of its illegality.” Such recommendations are being carried
out in conjunction with the courts and the military.”
“This ‘strategy’ should have been secret for ten years, but it happened to come to
public notice upon being attached as proof of an accusation made in the courts against
MST camp residents who were in two areas ceded by owners in the vicinity of Fazenda
Coqueiros—the initial(s) on the action make it clear that the promoters acted based on
Council guidelines. On the basis of the MP complaint, the Rio Grande do Sul Military
Brigade proceeded to evict hundreds of families from the Coqueiros do Sul camps. Huts,
cultivated fields, livestock, and even the health clinic and school set up by the landless were
destroyed. The families were thrown on the roadside in Sarandi, exposed to the cold and
without any protection. In short, the attack by the Public Ministry, the rapid consent of
judges, and the quick mobilization of the Military Brigade mounted a wartime scenario:
the MP gets the courts to move using an ideological discourse; the judge decides in favor
of the measure; the Military Brigade responds quickly to the judicial orders.”
MST’s attorney, Juvelino Stronzake, explained to the newspaper Folha de São
Paulo 12: “With the exception of the Eldorado do Carajás massacre, this is the
Eduardo Scolese, “Conselho de promotores do Rio Grande do Sul pede fim do MST” (Rio Grande do Sul Promoters Council asks
for an end to the MST), Folha de São Paulo, 24/06/2008.



event that stands out the most in the history of the movement. It is significant for
its being an instance of the State trying to limit popular organization.” We only
saw similar situations during the dictatorship.
At the same time, in the National Congress, deputies tied to large landowners
are insisting on the application of the penalties provided for in the National Security
Law13, against demonstrations by social movements, including the MST. The
offensive against rural workers in Congress is old news. In 2005, the final report
of the Parliamentary Land Inquiry Commission - CPI da Terra—, prepared by
then-federal deputy João Alfredo (PSOL-CE), was rejected and replaced by a
parallel report authored by Abelardo Lupion (DEM-PR). In the text, that member
of parliament asks that land occupations be considered heinous crimes and terrorist
acts. Actions against agrarian reform and democratization of access to land now
follow the pathway of drafts of laws which go against the interests not only of
rural workers and family farmers, but also of those who long for a more just and
egalitarian society.

Other Considerations
Aside from the facts herein related, the case should be noted of an attempt—
at least until now—to annul the ongoing demarcation of the Raposa Serra do Sol
Indigenous Reservation and the change in standards which govern the process of
regularization for remaining quilombo lands. INCRA’s Statute No. 49, of September
28, 2008, makes recognition of quilombola territories difficult in any event. With
regard to the Indigenous Reservation, the termination of ongoing demarcation
will signify a victory for large landowners.
What is happening with indigenous territories and quilombo lands has been
recurrent throughout our history. In the name of development and the interests
of the poorest (it’s always the same ritual), what it really means is to benefit the
economic groups tied to agri-business.

Finally, it must be said that the set of instruments placed at INCRA’s disposal
do not have sufficient power to confront the economic and political forces that
accompany the advance of agribusiness. To play at making agrarian policy, with
the use of legerdemain, is a recurring factor in Brazilian political history.
Law No. 7.170/83, the National Security Law, defines crimes against national security, the political and social order, establishes their
processes and judgment and makes other provisions. The idea of using it against members of a social movement seems anodyne, if only because
it establishes the competence of Military Courts to litigate and judge the crimes anticipated under this Law. The ruralists maintain that the
members of the MST should be held responsible for crimes against the political and social order.



The number of settled families continues to fall. In 2007, 66,983 families
were settled. This result reaffirms the falling trend and expresses the poor
performance seen since 2004. Unofficial data for 2008 confirm the inadequate
performance of the Lula government’s agrarian policy. In 2008, up to November
7 th, 21,058 families were settled in 1,960 projects. Of these, only 70 are new
projects (created in 2008), with the settlement of 3,643 families. (Sources: MDA/
INCRA/SDM/Sipra and IPEA).
The Agrarian Ombudsman’s Office continues to record murders in the
countryside. From 2001 to 2007, 534 murders were recorded, 133 of which
arose out of agrarian conflict and 101 are under investigation. In 2008, up to July
31 st, 20 murders were recorded, two of which arising from agrarian conflict and
13 are under investigation. According to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), in
2007, 28 worker deaths were verified due to land disputes, and 800,000 persons
were involved in 1.5 thousand conflicts.


CPT has been stating for some time that crimes against rural workers are
unending because they are always treated with impunity. From 1985 to
2007, it registered the killings of 1,493 workers in 1,113 occurrences. Of
these, only 85 cases went to trial; of those found guilty, 75 were people
who carried out orders, and 19 were those who gave the orders, but nobody
is currently in prison.

Fighting for Human Rights is Not a Crime
Antônio Canuto*

In 2008, violence against workers in the countryside persists. But besides the wellknown methods employed by private militia groups – killings, death threats, evictions –
what stands out this year is the clearer and more direct repression by the government,
above all by the agencies of the Executive and Judiciary powers, in an attempt to
intimidate and criminalize demonstrations of rural grassroots movements.

The old violence of private militia groups
On February 23, in the state of Amazonas, in the town of Lábrea, 53 year old
Francisco da Silva, president of the Union Association of Rural workers of Amazonas
was found dead, shot in the head. In July 2007, he had been in Manaus when a document
about the conflicts that were occurring in the region was published in various government
publications. It denounced the death threats that he was receiving, and an ambush from
* Antônio Canuto is the Executive Secretary of the National Board of the Pastoral Commission on Land (CPT).



which he had gotten out unharmed. In March 2007, the Pastoral Commission on Land
(CPT) of Amazonas requested the presence of the Federal Police to remove the gunmen
of the region to ensure the physical integrity of rural workers. Among those workers
mentioned was Francisco da Silva.
On April 29 in Rondônia, near the Catâneo Farm in the town of Campo Novo,
Edson Dutra was ambushed and killed by gunmen. An activist in the social movements,
he was driving a truck that carried rural landless workers. While trying to clear the road
that was blocked, he was shot and killed. Twenty days earlier, on April 9, the gunmen
had evicted at gunpoint more than 200 families who had been camped there, burning
down the shacks with all their belongings. Death threats were made.
On March 14 in Paraná, Reverend Luiz Carlos Gabas of the Anglican Church in
Cascavel, who had protested on behalf of the landless, had his car hit by two other cars
in a clear attempt to intimidate him.
On March 30 in the Libertação Camponesa (Peasant Liberation) settlement in the
municipality of Ortigueira, 42 year old MST member Eli Dallemole was executed in
front of his family. He was one of the leaders of the Terra Livre (Free Land) encampment
on the Compramil Farm in Ortigueira, which has been occupied since 2003, and had
received death threats. On March 8, gunmen had terrorized the 35 families camped in
the area, setting fire to all their belongs. Children were threatened and pushed around,
and men and women were beaten. Eli was welcomed into the Libertação Camponesa
settlement, where the death threats became more frequent, culminating in his assassination.
At dawn on May 8, the Primeiros Passos (First Steps) encampment of the Movement
for the Liberation of the Landless (MLST) with more than 150 families located on
Highway BR 369 between the municipalities of Cascavel and Corbélia was attacked by
a private militia. Heavily-armed men invaded the encampment with tractors, earthmovers and a heavy-duty armored truck from behind which the gunmen shot, a death’s
head of agribusiness. The whole plantation and all the structures of the encampment,
including a school and a church, were destroyed.
In April, in the state of Pará, large landowners contracted security companies at the
cost of between R$ 10 to R$ 15 thousand a month to repress MST activities that
remembered the massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás. They had orders to shoot if the
“invaders” crossed the sides of the highway and headed to the gate of the farms.
On April 24, in the township of Tucurui, a 51-year old settlement member named
Emival Barbosa Machado was shot in the head and killed. He had denounced the illegal
extraction of lumber. He received death threats, which he reported to the police in
Tucuruí. The killer was recognized by Emival’s sister, Ericélia Machado, and was jailed.
But on the evening of the same day, he was freed by the police.


Not even children can escape the violence. On May 5, two armed men invaded and
shot up the village of Anajá of the Guajajara people on the indigenous Araribóia land,
in the municipality of Arame, Maranhão. A five year old girl, M.S., was shot in the head
and died within an hour. According to the Guajajara, the killers were the same ones who
killed Timóteo Guajajara at the beginning of 2007.
These facts show that repression has been carefully planned, with the goal of
eliminating anyone who opposes the interests of large landowners.

The violence of governmental institutions
What stands out in 2008 is the repression against social movements, in a clear attempt to
criminalize them. These actions come from the Executive government, as well as from the
Judiciary system, and find support and endorsement in the National Congress. Here are
some examples:
In order to celebrate International Women’s Day, on March 8, women peasants carried
out demonstrations throughout Brazil, showing how the current Brazilian development plan
is giving support to large corporations and to agribusiness to the detriment of family farming
and food sovereignty.
In Minas Gerais, 600 women, representatives of the Landless Workers Movement (MST),
the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), afro-descendant and indigenous
communities, paralyzed the activities of Minerações Brasileira Reunidas (United Brazilian
Mining – MBR). Their goal was to denounce environmental degradation and land
concentration. To contain the demonstration, the state government sent 14 carloads of military
police, a helicopter, 10 jeeps and a truckload of shock troops. The police arrived shooting at
the demonstrators and one woman was wounded.
A protest of around 200 women of La Via Campesina at the Cachoeira Dantas Mill, in
the township of Agua Preta, in the state of Pernambuco, was surrounded by the Military
Police. Numerous policemen were shooting as they entered the encampment, where there
were 30 children.
It was in Rio Grande do Sul, however, that the women’s protests caused the most
violent reaction by the police. Nine hundred women of La Via Campesina occupied an area
of 2,000 hectares of the Swedish-Finnish company Stora Enso in Rosario do Sul, located
near the border, to denounce the illegal expropriation of Brazilian territory for the establishment
of agribusiness and its monocultures. Repression was not slow in coming. A large contingent
of the State Military Brigade arrived at the site, humiliating and hitting the women. Eight
hundred were detained and separated from their small children. More than 50 were wounded.
The work of the press was curtailed. Reporters and photographers were prevented from
documenting the aggression, as the Journalists Union of Rio Grande do Sul reported.


The Judiciary System
It is in the realm of the judiciary system that the criminalization of the movements is
really apparent. And there are three ways in which this happens:
· Favorable rulings for the interests of agribusiness and large corporations in court cases.
· Condemnations of grassroots leaders.
· Impunity of crimes committed against rural workers.

1. Rulings for the interests of agribusiness
Some important cases marked 2008. One of them was about the Raposa Serra do
Sol indigenous land in Roraima. In the area that was designated as indigenous territory in
1998 and approved in 2005, conforming to all the legal requirements, a group of six
large rice producers stayed illegally. When an operation was initiated to remove them,
the Supreme Court granted its preliminary suspension. The justification was that the
indigenous reserve was in a continuous area in a border region with Venezuela and
Guiana, and this could make it difficult to inspect the borders. Six rice producers spoke
more loudly than 18,992 indigenous people, from five tribes, who have lived in the
region of Raposa Serra do Sol for more than four thousand years.
Another case occurred in Marabá, Pará, where Federal Judge Carlos Henrique
Haddad did not recognize the claim made by INCRA’s National Attorney’s Office
against Vale Mining Company for the abuses committed against rural communities.

2. Condemnation of grassroots leaders
Condemning the leadership of rural movements for organizing protests was another
common situation in 2008. One example was the condemnation of attorney José Batista Afonso, member of the CPT National Board, and Raimundo Nonato da Silva,
regional coordinator of the Union Federation of Rural Workers of Pará (FETAGRI).
Both were sentenced to two years and five months in prison by the Federal Judge of
Marabá, Carlos Henrique Haddad, in a court case related to the occupation of INCRA
headquarters in April of 1999 by more than 10 thousand rural workers.
In 2002, the Public Prosecutor’s office had proposed the suspension of the trial,
upon payment of food baskets. When the conditions imposed on the court case were
fulfilled, and just when the Public Prosecutor’s office was going to require the case
extinction, another judge who assumed the case cancelled all previous decisions, and
determined that the court cases would continue. The partiality of the judge is evident in
the formulation of the sentence. On the one hand it states with respect to José Batista
that “it is possible that he may not have incited the invasion of the INCRA office by


rural workers, and it appears believable that he would not have been able to control the
excited crowd”. However, the severity of the penalty is based on the allegation that the
accused had “incited or ordered someone subject to his authority to commit the crime”.
Also in Marabá, the same judge ordered three MST and Mineworkers Movement
(MTM) leaders—Eurival Martins Carvalho, Raimundo Benigno, and Luiz Salomé —to
pay a fine of R$ 5,200,000 for the occupation of the Carajás railroad of Vale Mining
Company in the months of April and May. The intention was to condemn the workers
simply for being leaders, since legally the fine should be imposed on each one of the
workers who participated in the protest. The judge, however, said “they led various
persons in the invasion of the railroad, and for this reason must be held responsible for
the total amount of the damages, as well as pay the fine imposed because of the disorder
that occurred.”
A statement signed by grassroots organizations in the region says, “Besides being
contrary to good sense, the decision is flagrantly illegal and immoral. To attribute a
crime to people because they are leaders is legally absurd and gives a death blow to
In Alagoas at the end of September, former coordinators of the Land, Work and
Liberty Movement (MTL), the brothers Valdemir Augustinho de Souza and Ivandeje
Maria de Souza, (“Vanda”), were sentenced to 24 years in prison by Judge Gilvan de
Santana, for the crimes of forming a gang and damaging assets. The judge considered
them to have led the invasion of 300 landless workers at the office of the Conceição do
Peixe factory, causing an estimated R$200 thousand in damages.
On October 22, the Federal Court of Santa Catarina condemned Néri Fabris,
member of the MST, to two years in prison for occupying the side of a highway in June
of 2002. He was accused of being an “invasion professional”. Fabris was part of a
group of 70 persons from the MST who occupied part of highway BR-470, in the
municipality of Gaspar.

3. Impunity of crimes committed against rural workers
CPT has been stating for some time that crimes against rural workers are unending
because they are always treated with impunity. From 1985 to 2007, it registered the
killings of 1,493 workers in 1,113 occurrences. Of these, only 85 cases went to trial; of
those found guilty, 75 were people who carried out orders, and 19 were those who
gave the orders, but nobody is currently in prison.
In 2008, there were intense repercussions in Brazil and in other countries over the
absolution of Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura (“Bida”), one of those who ordered the
killing of Sister Dorothy Stang, and who was condemned to 30 years in prison in 2007.


A new jury found him innocent based on a change in the testimonies of Rayfran das
Neves Sales, one of the gunmen, and of Amayr Feijoli da Cunha (“Tato”) who was the
intermediary man between Bida and Rayfran. During the trial, there were numerous
new versions of the facts. But the trial documents include a recording of a conversation
between two gunmen, Rayfran and Clodoaldo, in which they comment on the offer of
R$ 20,000 to change their testimony to absolve the ranchers. This evidence was not
considered in the trial.

The Public Prosecutor Office
What was most puzzling this year was the action of the Attorney General’s Office in
the process of criminalizing rural movements and their leaders. It was from that office,
which has the responsibility of defending individual and collective rights, that the most
violent attacks were launched against rural movements, in particular in the state of Rio
Grande do Sul. Besides contradicting itself, it proposed actions that go totally against the
international treaties that Brazil has ratified, even calling for the dissolution of the MST
and the decree of its illegality.
Only after the deliberations of the Superior Council of the Office of the State
Attorney General was it possible to begin to understand some of the court decisions
and the belligerent actions of the Military Brigade. Actions that were well orchestrated
among the Attorney General’s Office, the Judiciary, and the Executive branch of the
On May 8, a group of 750 police officers from the Military Brigade invaded the
encampment of the MST in São Gabriel. The police destroyed all the shacks, and flew
very low in their helicopters, terrorizing people, including many children. They threw
dirt on people’s food, and prevented human rights defenders and congress-members
from monitoring the situation. Two workers were arrested.
On June 3, a MST encampment along the sides of Highway RS-040 in Viamão was
invaded by the Military Brigade. A group of more than 100 police offices and a shock
battalion destroyed the shacks that were being built by the families. The police obtained
immediate acceptance by local judges who issued warrants against MST leaders, prohibited
marches, and displaced people who lived in encampments.
In Coqueiros do Sul, hundreds of families were evicted from two encampments,
on June 17. The petition of the State Attorney General’s office, dated on June 16,
received a favorable response on the same day. In the following morning, at dawn,
more than 500 men from the Military Brigade entered the encampments by surprise,
before the arrival of the court official. One of them explained that, “It’s not a question
of removing encampments, but rather of dismantling the bases that the MST uses.”


In this context, it became known that two public prosecutors from Rio Grande do
Sul participated in a secret inquiry, initiated in mid-2007, to investigate “crimes of the
MST.” The report of this investigation accused the movement of bringing together a
group of “leftists and anti-capitalists”, of threatening national security, of disrupting
elections, and of ideologically indoctrinating children at their schools by using books by
authors such as Florestan Fernandes and Paulo Freire.
On December 3, 2007, this report was presented to the Superior Council of the
Attorney General’s Office, which approved it. According to the minutes of this meeting:
“the Superior Council of the Attorney General’s Office unanimously accepts the vote
of the Council-Report, in the following terms: ‘the designation of a team of court
prosecutors to promote public civil action with a goal of dissolving the MST and
declaring it illegal’. And further: ‘vote to take all the appropriate measures with a goal of
suspending the marches or other protests of landless people”. The Attorney General’s
Office decided to intervene in the MST schools, “with a goal of taking all measures that
will be necessary for returning them to legality in the pedagogical aspect, as well as in the
structure of external influence of the MST.”
The repercussion from these measures was great, to the extent that a Special
Commission of the Council for Defense of the Human Person (CDDPH) was created,
a body linked to the Special Secretariat of Human Rights to investigate “attempts to
criminalize social movements through the initiatives of the State Attorney General’s
office, decisions of the Judiciary of Rio Grande do Sul, and actions of the Military
Brigade of Rio Grande do Sul.” The report of this commission, presented on September
30, concluded that “there exist indications of criminalization of social movements by
the State”.
As Professor Jacques Alfonsin says: “The severity of the rights violations contained
in these legal actions, and in their truculent executions resides in the fact that they extend
their effects to a whole group of people whose members include every type of person,
including children, elderly men and women. All these people are prejudged as criminals
because they are MST members. What these actions propose is nonsense because it
would open the possibility for group punishment with no distinction between the guilty
and the innocent, including children”. (In Pastoral da Terra, year 33, nº 193, July to
September 2008, p. 14)
This whole process ends up judging the defenders of human rights as criminals. For
this reason, on October 17 in Belém, Pará, more than 70 organizations launched the To
Struggle for Human Rights is Not a Crime Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to
build a coalition that acts against criminalization of social movements and their supporters.


Social movements—and especially the MST—have only one way to fight
for their rights, which is the force of their demonstrations in order to give
visibility to their complaints. By preventing MST members from knowing
the content of accusations against them, the Public Prosecutor’s office
in the state of Rio Grande do Sul is bringing back repression we saw
during the military dictatorship, when democratic rights were restricted
and hundreds of activists were arrested for their political activities. The
use of the National Security Law and judicial secrecy mechanisms is an
attempt to exterminate the MST and criminalize social movements in

Criminalization of Social Movements in Brazil1
Aton Fon Filho1 and Suzana Angélica Paim Figueredo2
Brazilian society recently took note that, in the far south of the country, a new
attempt is being put together to allow the development of repressive mechanisms and
institute new coordination of authoritarian entities. The leak concerning the set of actions
against the Landless Workers Movement (MST), developed by the Public Prosecutor’s
Office of the State of Rio Grande do Sul and the local section of the Federal Public
Prosecutor, demonstrates that more than exercising legal functions, these institutions use
legal power to achieve illegal objectives and, under the cover of a democratic regime,
violate human rights.
Aton Fon Filho is an attorney and director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights.
Suzana Angélica Paim Figueredo is an attorney and a member of the Advisory Board of the Network for Social Justice and Human
Article extracted from “Criminalização dos Protestos e Movimentos Sociais” (Criminalization of Protests and Social Movements),
a collection resulting from the International Seminar on Criminalization of Social Movements sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg
Stiftung Institute and the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. The Spanish version is titled “Criminalización de la
protesta y Movimientos Sociales,” São Paulo: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Institute, October 2008.



This type of situation is not recent, but in recent years we never saw such degrees of
preparation and articulation. The very privilege of access to the judicial framework in
Brazil, arising out of the material inequality operating in society, establishes a watch
tower from which the dominant classes observe and control attempts of grassroots
movements to achieve basic rights.
Confrontation between two forces is not resolved simply as a function of the resources
that each has at its disposal, but by the concrete possibilities of their use. This is valid in the
military and political spheres, and is also supported in the legal system, where the parties
have, by definition, access to given alternatives, in accordance with predetermined situations.
It is not enough, for example, for there to be generic legal provision for interposing an
appeal, if the specific conditions are not given that admit its interposition; it is not enough
for one to have a right, if there are no possibilities of pleading before a judge.
Precisely for this reason, the guarantee of the right to a defense—a full defense, in
constitutional terms—is a basic regulating element of a democratic regime, since that is
what protects the citizens against the arbitrary actions of the State. The right to a defense—
a full one—cannot be translated into a mere formality.

The MST is the defendant in a political action
The accusation made against eight MST activists in the Federal Court of Rio Grande do Sul is based on a political action, because the defendants are accused of having
violated Articles 16; 17, caput; 20, caput and 23, I of the National Security Law:
Art. 16 – being a member of or having an association, party, committee, group or
class entity the purpose of which is changing the current regime or the State by Law,
by violent means or with the use of serious threats.
Sentence: Solitary confinement, from 1 to 5 years.
Art. 17 – Trying to change, with use of violence or serious threat, the current
regime, order, or the State by Law.
Sentence: Solitary confinement, from 3 to 15 years.
Art. 20 – To devastate, pillage, extort, rob, kidnap, maintain in a private jail,
burn, depredate, cause an explosion, commit a personal assault or commit acts of
terrorism, for political nonconformity or to obtain funds destined to maintain clandestine
or subversive political organizations.
Sentence: Solitary confinement, from 3 to 10 years.



Art. 23 – To incite:
I – Subversion of the political or social order.
These penal provisions criminalize participation in a political organization, and link
political association with terrorism. The National Security Law has the effect of prohibiting
the exercise of a full defense, given that it obliges each of the defendants to justify the
actions of all members of an organization. So, if one of them is condemned in Rio
Grande do Sul, any other member of the same association—even without their
knowledge—can receive the same sentence, even in a remote village in Amazonas.
If the defendants are accused of belonging to an organization which is said to be
criminal, it is the very organization which, in fact, is being accused, without any possibility
of defending itself. As for the defendants, they are in reality only arbitrarily chosen
pawns, as anyone of the thousands of MST members could equally figure in the
accusation, even if nothing can be proven against them personally. The simple fact of
admitting to affiliation, or such being proven, would already justify the accusation.
Even if only one of the accused admitted an affiliation with the MST, this fact alone
can imply that the MST would be such an “association, party, committee, class organization
or group, which the objective is to overthrow the current regime or the Rule of Law, by
violent means or with the use of serious threat.”
In addition to criminalizing the MST as an organization, things are proceeding judicially
so as to prevent activists from defending themselves, with the objective of destroying a
social movement that gives voice to peasant’s demands. The National Security Law was
intended to prevent a full defense, dealing with a political process that aims at criminalizing
the demands and activities of an organization.
The Federal Constitution establishes (art. 93, IX) that “all judgments by the organs
of the Judicial branch shall be public…upon penalty of nullification.” It authorizes the
law to restrict the presence, in determined acts, to the parties themselves and their attorneys,
or only to the latter when “the preservation of the interested party’s right to privacy
does not prejudice the public’s right to be informed.”
In this legal case against the MST, the defendants are accused of belonging to an
organization which is said to be terrorist. For this reason, judicial secrecy was decreed. It
wasn’t the defendants who asked for such secrecy, in defense of their privacy. It was the
Public Prosecutor who asked for it, and it was granted by the judge, allegedly in defense
of the public interest.
Social movements—and especially the MST—have only one way to fight for their
rights, which is the force of their demonstrations in order to give visibility to their
complaints. By preventing MST members from knowing the content of accusations


against them, the Public Prosecutor’s office in the state of Rio Grande do Sul is bringing
back repression we saw during the military dictatorship, when democratic rights were
restricted and hundreds of activists were arrested for their political activities. The use of
the National Security Law and judicial secrecy mechanisms is an attempt to exterminate
the MST and criminalize social movements in Brazil.


The transformation of the “principle of security” as the fundamental
axis of human rights, a fact that is currently widespread in a way that is
unprecedented in the recent history of humanity, and its use for a
“declaration of a state of emergency” under the pretext of fighting
terrorism, can also be verified in Brazil, with a special emphasis in Rio
Grande do Sul (RS) in 2007 and 2008, where social movements that opposed
the neoliberal model of state government, or only the neodevelopmentist
model of the federal government, are branded as terrorists by institutions
of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

“State of Emergency” in Rio Grande do Sul
and the criminalization of the MST
Leandro Gaspar Scalabrin1
“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the state of emergency in
which we live is actually the general rule”.
Walter Benjamin

The “State of Emergency” is paradoxical: the court order legalizes its own suspension;
the law foresees when it will not be applied, that is, when to break the rule is to follow
the rule. If breaking the law can be following it, how can we distinguish what is a
transgression and what is the execution of the law? And nevertheless this paradoxical

Leandro Gaspar Scalabrin is a member of the Human Rights Commission of Passo Fundo(Endnotes)



figure that hands us over to totalitarianism, the “State of Emergency” is present in the
majority of court orders, including the Brazilian ones, constituting, it can be said, a
paradigm – a logical pattern – of being based on judicial order in western and
“democratic” modernity. This pattern was created in 1791 under the name of “state of
siege”, establishing a legal picture for the suspension of judicial order in “extreme cases”, originally applied only to fortified cities and military strongholds.
Another recent example of this state of emergency logic was the work of the
German government in 2007 during the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, a place with
few residents but logistically easy to protect, where they built:
A security fence around the area and around this fence, they created another “special
rights zone” where the rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of movement
could be “legally” limited. A special unit or a type of special authority (Kavala) of the
police was created, in which all the government authorities (in an intensive international
exchange) cooperated and received all the tasks of the police. The “Kavala” was
transformed into a higher authority, acting autonomously, in which the separation between
civil and military police, between the federal and state agencies, and between the secret
service and the police, disappeared. “They dodged all the demands for separation and
the principle of separation of powers by which, according to the Constitution, excessive
measures of the executive power and of the police should be avoided” (Donat, 2007,
45). Nevertheless, these were registered in the Basic Law owing to the experiences of
fascism, specifically to avoid the formation of an uncontrolled police apparatus. The
Kavala assumed leadership, not only in planning but also in the “operational measures”.
So it also became the place to address any right of assembly. And it always acted according
to its own “forecast of anti-terrorist risk”. Whoever wanted to remain in the area defined
as a risk zone or wanted to use their right to assemble, would interfere in a general way
in the security concept, becoming a terrorist and potential enemy. It was stated a posteriori
that at no moment was there any concrete risk of terrorist attacks. Even so, this “risk
forecast” also became a directive for the court (which, according to the principles of the
Rule of Law is and should be independent): these new authorities not only suspended
the separation between the police and the jurisdiction, but the Kavala was also the
competent body to describe in its “situation reports” the truth to the judges – with all
the consequences that this would entail for freedom of assembly, legal protection from
police rules and actions of the penal system. The other novelty was the fact of the
Kavala police preparing and autonomously publishing offensive press releases. These
were characterized by incorrect messages and false risk forecasts, which on their part
heated up the public climate quite a bit (GENSCHEL e STOLLE, 2008).
So the western “democracies” progressively substituted the declaration of “state of


siege” for an unprecedented generalization of the paradigm of security as a normal
technique of government, as we saw in France in 2005, in Germany in 2007, and in the
United States in the last few years, which, inverting its policy of human rights, has sponsored
the torture of terrorism suspects, holds “prisoners of war” in Guantanamo without a
formal accusation or right of defense, besides spying on its own American citizens by
means of telephone taps and violation of emails, without legal orders (O GLOBO,
2008). Such generalization occurs more intensely starting with September 11, 2001 (with
the attempts against the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington), to
the point of inaugurating, for Mikel Berraondo López, a fourth2 stage in the history of
human rights, a stage that has just begun.
Starting at this moment a retrocession occurred with respect to human rights that,
from what we see, has already become generalized and assumes a very dangerous
curtailment of the international process of acceptance, respect, and enjoyment of human
rights. As a consequence of the attacks, and owing to the involvement of Islamic
fundamentalist organizations in carrying it out, an international crusade began against
terrorism and against the Islamic world, accused of being the protector and motivator
of international terrorist networks. The United States consolidated, if it is possible, its
role of promoting international justice and the principle of security, converted itself into
the basic axis of human rights [...] Starting with September 11, protection and security
were elevated above the rest of human rights, relegating the exercise of all these to the
existence of a situation of total security. The exercise of rights like freedom and other
rights such as the presumption of innocence were drastically limited – this was transformed
in such a way that in some countries such as the United States, there now exists in its
place a presumption of guilt3, which allows detentions and arbitrary rulings to be
carried out against Arab citizens or anyone who has Muslim links. (LÓPEZ, 2004).

“National security” and the MST
The transformation of the “principle of security” as the fundamental axis of human
rights, a fact that is currently widespread in a way that is unprecedented in the recent history
of humanity, and its use for a “declaration of a state of emergency” under the pretext of
fighting terrorism, can also be verified in Brazil, with a special emphasis in Rio Grande do
“So then, we would speak of a first normative step in which treaties and international conventions on human rights are created; of
a second step of building institutions, in which besides continuing with the normative work, a whole series of institutions are built to
protect human rights; a third step after the Cold War, characterized by an initial depoliticization of human rights; and finally a fourth
step in international security, in which the principle of security is converted into the main motor of human rights, relegating the exercise
of the majority of them under the collective necessity to ensure security.” (LÓPEZ, op. cit).
The presumption of guilt killed the Brazilian Jean Charles, who had no Muslim connection whatsoever, in the United Kingdom,
where Scotland Yard shot first to see afterwards whether he was a terrorist with a bomb.



Sul (RS) in 2007 and 2008, where social movements that opposed the neoliberal model of
state government, or only the neodevelopmentist model of the federal government, are
branded as terrorists by institutions of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.
To put the issue in context, it is necessary to show some recent events that reflect
the position of military and civil authorities in this respect. Two documents of the
Military Brigade, one from 2006 (Situation of the MST in the northern region of RS)
and another from 2007 (“classified” intelligence report n. 1124-100-2007, put together
by the secret service of the Military Brigade, the PM2), this from the General Staff,
characterizes La Via Campesina – especially the Rural Landless Workers Movement
(MST) – as movements that have ceased carrying out typical actions for social demands
in favor of carrying carry out criminal actions, organized tactically as if they were
paramilitary operations. The State Attorney General’s Office (MPE) of Rio Grande
do Sul accepted this thesis in a “confidential” proceeding (administrative proceeding
n.º 16315-09.00/07-9), during which the initiation of legal actions to dissolve the
MST were approved – having had a setback of the institution because of repercussion
about the proposal. The Federal Attorney General’s Office of Carazinho, a city in the
interior of the state, placed the encampments, marches and other activities of the
MST carried out between 2004 and 2006, within the framework of articles 16, 17,
and 20 of the National Security Law, which charges the “members of groups” that
have as a goal to change the Rule of Law by the use of violence and acts of terrorism
with political nonconformity.
Along the same lines, the struggle of the indigenous people for demarcation and
homologation of indigenous lands in the Amazon region, particularly of the Yanomami
and Raposa Serra do Sol territories, which finally resulted in the demarcation of the
Raposa Serra do Sol reserve by the federal government, constituted for the Brazilian
military “a threat to national sovereignty” and they have taken a stand against its enactment.
(MALDOS, 2008).
Although almost quaint, illustrative as to the characterization of the social movements
as “terrorist organizations”, is the fact that it was not until July 20, 2008, that the African
National Congress and Nelson Mandela were removed from the list of terrorists by the
CIA and this happened 15 years after Nelson Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize.
The unprecedented generalization of the security paradigm as a normal technique
of government, especially in Rio Grande do Sul, can be seen in the actions and omission
of the State and Federal Attorney General’s Office, in the decisions and omissions of
the Judicial branch, and in the actions of the security organs of state government.
The actions of the State Attorney General’s Office of Rio Grande do Sul in this
sense began in September 2007 when in the name of zeal “for public security” it asked


– and the court complied – for a preliminary ruling against the MST and the FARSUL4,
determining that they be restrained from going to Coqueiros do Sul and prevented
from entering the “Republic of Carazinho” 5. The justification for the court action of
interdiction of the district was to avoid a conflict between the landless – who moved
toward the region in three marches with around 1,000 people, coming from different
regions of the state – and the ruralists (right-wing landowners). On restraining the “two
parts” of the conflict, the prosecutor tried to show himself as “impartial, not taking
either side”. The order was established with “secret” documents from the Military Brigade
– reports of the situation and offensive press releases, the same techniques as the German
Kavala – that recommended the suspension of the landless marches and forecast the
risk of a conflict between the two sides. The judge of the proceeding was “so impartial”
that he would not let the movement’s lawyer see the secret documents, used in the
proceeding by the prosecutor. Two months after the decision, the police prediction
turned out to be false, since there was no ruralist movement but only the marches of
two thousand landless workers, who were prevented from entering the district under
gunpoint and the use of tear gas. The decision, without decreeing a state of emergency6,
recognized as “besieged” the four municipalities of the district, an area of 2,108 km2, in
which the right of the landless to come and go and meet peacefully was suspended.
The Court of Justice, evaluating the habeas corpus request to ensure the right of the
landless workers to come and go, confirmed the decision that determined this “zone of restricted
rights”, creating the precedent that would be utilized again seven months later, when, on July 11,
2008, carrying out the determinations of its Superior Council, the State Attorney General’s
office joined with public civil action in the “republic of Carazinho” and obtained a preliminary
order for the eviction of 300 landless families – who were demanding the expropriation of the
Guerra Farm (8,000 hectares) – of two encampments that existed in Coqueiros do Sul for
more than two years, in areas in which the lands had been legally granted by their owners. The
State Attorney General’s office asked for the ruling to understand that “the State has a duty to
ensure public security for the citizens and so to preserve public order and the invulnerability of
persons and of the patrimony” 7. On June 17 2008, the same State Attorney General’s office
joined with three other actions in the Districts of São Gabriel, Canoas and Pedro Osório,
requesting “preventative guardianship” for the members of the MST
Federation representative of the rural syndicates, that is, of the landowners.
Allusion to the Court District of Carazinho, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, a jurisdiction that includes the municipalities of
Carazinho, Almirante Tamandaré do Sul, Coqueiros do Sul and Santo Antônio do Planalto.
Another similar decision was handed down on August 10, 2007, by the judge of the District of Itapecerica da Serra – SP, who
granted a preliminary ruling banning the Homeless Workers Movement from carrying out an encampment in public areas of the
municipality (streets, plazas, buildings). Then a municipal decree (n. 1980 on 05-18-07), which decrees the existence of an abnormal
situation provoked by actions of public, social, and political disorder in the whole territory of the municipality.



Abstain from approaching, through marches, walks, or other mass movements of
the landless and other members of social movements [...] to a distance less than two
kilometers from the territorial limits [...] of the Southall Farm (13, 627 hectares), of the
Granja Nene Farm (1,246 hectares), and of the Palma Farm (3,029 hectares).

The four requests were deferred by the judiciary power,
To the police forces [...] that they constantly monitor the actions of the culprits that
are trying to move toward the Farm, [...] preventing them, if that’s the case by intercepting
their marches, walks, or other mass movements of the landless and other members of
the social movements [...] from arriving at a minimum distance of two kilometers from
the external territorial limits [...]8
And levying a daily fine of R$10,000.00 in case of violations. The funds had been
appealed by “interlocutory appeal” against the decisions, that, until that moment, had
not been ruled on. In practice, the actions had created special zones where the right to
come and go, right of assembly and protest are suspended, in the same pattern as that
used by the German police in 2007 during the protests against the meeting of the G8 in
The granting of “preventative bans” and now of “preventative guardianships”
has been the main mechanism used for the companies and landowners to establish
“exceptions” to the right of assembly and free expression; these legal tools have
been granted by the Judicial Branch that has taken a stand in favor of the right of
property, to the detriment of the right to assemble, in the conflicts between both.
On this subject, the situation of the Federation of Bank Employees of Rio Grande
do Sul (representing 38 unions) is illustrative. It issued a communiqué saying that in
the stoppage of October 8, 2008, it would not disturb the ownership or plunder
any bank agency. Even so, various banks joined with preventative bans. The Federation
denounced the unnecessary utilization of preventative bans by the banks as a way
of putting a stop to the exercise of the right to strike and freely expand the
movement. (CORREIO DO POVO, 2008). There also exist preventative bans,
issued in 2008, outlawing protests by people affected by the hydroelectric plant of
The source of the actions in Carazinho is configured in the fourth step identified by López, since it places “public security” above other
human rights, the right to agrarian reform and the right to housing for families who ended up evicted and with nowhere to sleep for
various days, when it rains and during the coldest times of the year. One elderly man died because of health problems in the days following
the eviction.
The actions affirm that the landless encampments near these four farms are responsible for numerous crimes practiced against them,
although there is no proof or criminal convictions against MST members, constituting – together with the use of the term “defendant”
(a penal term) in civil actions – application of the “presumption of guilt” also in this case.



Chapecó, in the district of Planalto (RS) and São Carlos (SC), under penalty of fines
of R$5,000.00 and R$50,000.00 per day. In 2007, the state judiciary of Panambi
(RS) granted a ban against the Metalworkers Union of that city which was carrying
out a campaign for better wages at the Tromink corporation. In all these proceedings,
the court authorized the use of force by the military police to carry out the decision.
Another significant fact showing the generalization of the security paradigm as
a normal technique of government in RS occurred when there was the simultaneous
action of the Civil Police (60 agents), Military Police (800 policemen), Federal Police,
Firemen, and State Highway Patrol, carrying out the order issued by the Judicial
Branch and supported by the State Attorney General’s office, to seek and apprehend
200 reais, a copy machine, and a ring in the place where more than 1,500 landless
workers, members of the house of representatives, councilmen, professors, students,
union members, and supporters of agrarian reform participated in the XXIV State
Congress of the MST-RS, in the community of Coanol in the settlement of the
Annoni Farm, where the MST was founded in the 1980s. An army of 1,000 men
with approximately 100 vehicles, helicopters, horses, and dogs surrounded all access
roads to the site, which remained cut off the whole day. From 6:00 a.m. on, no one
could enter or leave the site. All the activities that were programmed for the last day,
when the main decisions would be made, were suspended. Those present tried to
express their right to assemble; the army wanted to enter and identify all participants
as criminals. At the end of the evening, around 200 police entered the site and
inspected the buses and lodgings: nothing was found. The police action finished at
5:00 p.m. on January 17 and ended the Congress. The year: 2008, 40 years after the
dissolution of the Congress of the National Student Union in Ibiúna by the military

History of interventions: from the AI-5 to the IO-6
“They know what they are doing and they continue to do it”9.
Peter Sloterdijk
Such is the size of the generalization of the security paradigm as a normal technique
of government that it has gotten to the point of stating, in the struggle against terrorism,
The author, starting with the famous phrase used by Marx to trace the contours of the lack of ideological knowledge, “They know
not what they do” arrives at the conclusion in cynicism “they know what they do and they continue to do it”. Cynicism would be the
reason of our age, called post-ideological, where power learns to laugh at itself, which allows them to reveal the secret of their functioning
and to continue functioning as such. “Capitalism offers nothing to believe, cynicism is its morality”. (SAFATLE, op. cit., p. 69 e 92).




“there are no rules”10. Diverging in part from the United States, the State of Rio Grande
do Sul, to achieve efficiency in the repressive apparatus, standardized the “rules” of the
“generalization of emergency”. The rules consist of Operation Instruction nº 6-1" (IO6), October 6, 2007, which can be compared to “Institutional Act nº 5”, from December
13, 1968 (AI-5).11
AI-5, from General A. Costa e Silva12, granted to the “President of the Republic”
the power to suspend the political rights of any citizens, a suspension that implies, among
other things, the prohibition of activities or demonstrations about political matters and
the application, when necessary, of the security measure of “guarded freedom” and the
“prohibition against frequenting specific places”, with everything that is done in accordance
with the Act being excluded from any judicial review.
IO-6, of Colonel Noble Nilson Bueno,13 granted to the Regional Commanders of
the Military Brigade of RS the power to suspend political activities of social movements,
a suspension that carries, among other things, the prohibition against carrying out acts or
protests in public agencies and private areas, and application of the security measure of
“the prohibition of frequenting certain places”, even without a court order for such or
without any complaint of a crime by the owner of a private area.
The factors, utilized as a pretext by the Armed Forces to unleash the repressive
escalation in 1968, with the AI-5 [accusations against the government, growth of protests
in the streets and rise of armed groups (BRASIL, 2008)], are similar to those utilized as
a pretext by the General Staff of BM to unleash in 2007 a new repressive escalation
against social movements. The finality of IO-6 (see item 1) is to regulate police action in
the following situations:
a) Actions of groups, organized or not, who begin to launch an occupation
or mass invasion of public or private areas;
b) New outbreak of violence and of criminality in the countryside,
c) Exhaustion of the authorities’ capacity to negotiate.

With AI-5, the government had “legal” support for, among others measures: shutting down the congress, annulling mandates,
suspending political rights, firing public officials, firing judges, decreeing a state of siege without consulting other powers, confiscating
belongings, suspending the guarantee of habeas corpus, forbidding the AI-5 from being questioned in court (FIGUEIREDO, 2005).
The relation to be safeguarded is that IO-6, as it will be seen, does not foresee any of these measures.
With AI-5, the government had “legal” support for, among others measures: shutting down the congress, annulling mandates,
suspending political rights, firing public officials, firing judges, decreeing a state of siege without consulting other powers, confiscating
belongings, suspending the guarantee of habeas corpus, forbidding the AI-5 from being questioned in court (FIGUEIREDO, 2005).
The relation to be safe guarded is that IO-6, as it will be seen, does not foresee any of these measures.
Then Brazilian dictator who took power in the coup of April 1, 1964.
In October 2007 Commander General of the Military Brigade, named by the governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.



IO-6 specifies that
The invasions of urban or rural areas, public or private, including highways and
their margins, constitute in Brazil, conduct attempting to, in the majority of cases, force
the governments to broaden agrarian reform. In other situations they constitute strategic
maneuvers with goals of a political nature [...] (item 3) and proposes, in its group of
recommendations, measures to prevent that these political activities occur, even foreseeing
that all of its recommendations “be the actions of social movements in
general in occupations that are making demands or protesting” (item 4, point j). Item 3
of the instruction foresees measures that must be taken in a situation of normality,
imminent occupation, occupation that is happening, and of requisition of police force
for support in fulfilling the court order of reintegration.
In a situation of “normality” (item 3, point b), the police will have to keep a current
register of the rural and urban areas, public and private, that can be considered possible
occupation sites, containing the data about the existing encampments in the region,
identification of possible leaders or groups involved in each encampment or settlement,
data about the public buildings (for example INCRA and the Farm Ministry) and that
may be invaded suddenly, and even data about the buildings and urban land areas that
can be occupied by the social movements in general.
When a situation of imminent occupation is occurring, the police must install police
barriers in the areas that give access to the sites that would be occupied and prevent the
political act (the occupation) from being carried out – item 3, points c-1 and c-2 of IO6. The instruction attributed to the regional command of the Military Brigade, once they
know of the movement of a large number of people on foot or in vehicles on their
way to a known destination, the power to decide if they have the spirit of invasion,
which would characterize the situation as one of imminent occupation (item 03, point c)
and would authorize the use of barriers and the use of force to prevent them from
promoting their political act. Therefore, as occurred with the Kavala in Germany, the
Brigade itself is the one charged with the rule that institutes a policy of preventative
policing, with the goal of preventing political protests (which would be the MST
occupations) from being carried out, as the instruction itself recognizes, and other protests,
whether of students, teachers, of a union or a social movement). The Military Brigade
characterized as a “situation of imminent occupation” the event of July 24, 2008, when
landless workers marched to INCRA headquarters in Porto Alegre, demanding the
fulfillment of the Term of Adjustment of Conduct signed with the MPF for the settlement
of one thousand families by April of 2008 (which had still not been fulfilled). The
military brigade “intercepted the landless workers, inspected them and accompanied the
group to the regional headquarters of INCRA. [...] There, to enter in the building,


written authorization was obtained from the superintendent of the institute, if not given,
the Military Brigade would not leave” and on July 28, a group “left to participate in a
meeting in the university (about the criminalization of the movement) and the Military
Brigade decided that those who “left the INCRA building would not be able to return”
(MENDELSKI, 2008, p. 2).
In the situation of an occupation that is occurring, the commandos must isolate the
area according [...]to article 6 of the CPP, after confirming the ownership of the property
and then managing [...]the voluntary exit of the invaders even if there is not a court
order for this (item 3, points d-1, d-2 and d-7 of IO-6). This chapter of the instruction
creates an exception to that which is provided for in Brazilian law, which can be
characterized as a deviation or an abuse of power. The Brazilian legal order establishes
that in cases of dispossession of private areas14, where there is no use of violence against
persons, the State (police, prosecutors, and judges) only intervenes when there is a
complaint; that is, the legal system establishes that the military police can only act after
being called by the owner, never being able to act “preventatively” 15. In civil matters, the
police can only retake possession of occupied areas after a court ruling16. On the other
hand, the Brigade can never “cut off ” 17 private areas under the terms of article 6º of
the Penal Code, since this deals with the “police inquest” to be carried out by the civil
police and refers to the isolating of the “site of the crime” after the exit and removal of
the people to avoid destroying evidence18. One of the examples of the application of
this ruling occurred on June 4, 2008, in an occupation of a particular area of just one
hectare by 27 – 4 were children—landless, near Águas Claras, in Viamão – RS. One
hundred military police from the Special Operations Battalion, even using a helicopter,
went into action and contained the occupation. (CORREIO DO POVO, 2008).
According to the landless workers, first the area was cordoned off after the Brigade
found the owner of the area and made him file a complaint to give “legality” to the
operation. At 3:41 p.m. the demonstrators received notice of arrest from the commander
of the 18th Brigade of Military Police. Afterwards, under orders from then14
Art. 161, II of the Penal Code, a penal type which includes occupations and protests carried out by union or social movements to demand
In these cases of occupations of private areas, the police can only act officially if there is violence against a person – which the police have
no way of knowing before the occupation is underway! Even in the case of violence, how can the police know about an occurrence before
anyone communicates it?
The Brazilian court system allows the owner – by his own means – to use force to retake possession, not allowing police force to do it.
This “isolation” in practice has consisted in the temporary imprisonment of all the demonstrators at the site of a protest, even encircling
them with huge police contingents of shock battalions, cutting off food and water.
The rule of the brigade even appears to be a joke in Portuguese: the law says “isolate” the “scene of the crime” so that no one touches
anything; the brigade isolates the “scene of the crime” with the whole world inside. In reality, they have tried to find a legal basis for this
abusive action, this becomes clear when we see in IO-6 that the goal of isolation is to prevent “a larger contingent of invaders from joining
the group that is there”(item 3, point d-1).



subcommander-general Paulo Roberto Mendes, “All were registered and had to sign the
document”. (ZERO HORA, 2008). Another example occurred in an MST encampment in
Gramado dos Loureiros (RS), evicted by the Military Brigade on July 29, 2008, from the side
of State Highway RS324. According to a statement by a rural landowner, in a court petition, the
Military Brigade informed him that his property would be the target of an occupation, as a
result a preventative ban was issued against the MST. According to those in the encampment,
the Military Brigade pressured the agency responsible for the road to issue a reintegration of
ownership (deferred by the court) that authorized the use of force and the eviction of the
landless. The evictions were made without any type of negotiation.
And finally in the situations of carrying out the order for the action of removal of the
invaders (item 3, point f), IO-6 establishes that if the vacating is voluntary, (item 3, point f-1), all
the “invaders” must be inspected, illicit materials must be apprehended, criminally identified19
and brought to the police station (item 3, points f-1-e). In the case of compulsory reintregation
(item 3, point f-2), besides the inspection, identification, and criminalization, all the means of
transport used in the invasion must be seized (item 3, points f-2 and f). In the various instructions
(item 4), the instruction already establishes that in carrying out the Court Order, a command
post must be established where all the politicians, the press, and other professionals who have
come to the site must be directed, not involving them directly in carrying out the measure so that
they do not affect the normal course of activities (item 4, inciso b); the specified instruction,
even the implementation and maintenance of a Control Book of the existing situations in the
State, which must be included on the web site of the PM-3 on the internet (item 4, point i).
In this way, IO-6 generalizes the paradigm of security as a normal technique of government
in RS, transforming the state of emergency into a general rule of the system. Through its
application, there has been a massive criminal identification of activists and the maintenance
of “secret archives” with data about activists and members of social movements. The Brazilian
Federal Constitution ensures that the citizen, identified civilly, has the right to not be submitted
to criminal identification (art. 5º, LVIII). The theory of federal law n.º 10.054/2000 is the
same, which establishes that
The prisoner caught in the act, the defendant in a police inquest, someone who has
committed an infraction [...], as well as those who have had a warrant issued for their arrest,
if they are not yet criminally identified, will be submitted to criminal identification including
fingerprinting and photographed (art. 1º)
And that “the proof of civil identification can be done through presenting an identity card
recognized by the law (art. 2º)20. The law does not authorize the creation and maintenance of a
Once again, the rule cites as the legal basis art. 6º of the penal code, that is inapplicable to the situation because it’s a question of
identification by the authority of the civil police for the fingerprinting process and not for carrying out the registration of members and
leaders of the social movements for the repression of the organizations, as is being done by the Brigade.
The Supreme Court of Justice has ratified the literal terms of the law. STJ - RHC 12965 (DF - 5ª T. - Rel. Min. Felix Fischer
- DJU 10.11.2003) e RHC 12969 (DF - 5ª T. - Rel. Min. Felix Fischer - DJU 20.09.2004).



“secret” 21 database such as those maintained by the PM2 of Rio Grande do Sul, and the use
of these in court proceedings, as the MPE has done, that used two of these “reports”
in civil actions: a so-called report on the members of La Via Campesina that are active
in the actions of the social movements in the last few years, with the names of around
500 supposed members of the MST and of the Movement of Peasant Women (MMC);
and the other, so-called report on the main leaders who are active in the MST march to
Coqueiros do Sul in 2007, with photos of seven supposed leaders of the march where
below the photo, the caption “Role: Leadership” can be read and attached is the “police
file” of each one of them.
A less thorough analysis of IO-6 and ignorance about how it has been applied can
lead one to not see it as “abnormal” because it establishes also the use of dissuasion
through an official with the profile of a high-risk negotiator (item 3, point c-2), specifies
by priority establishing contacts with authorities, seeking political support for a good
way of conducting the cases (item 3, point d-6) and managing the voluntary and peaceful
exit of the invaders (item 3, point d-7), speaks about clarifying the demands of the
intention of Military Brigade in a peaceful retreat (item 3, points f-2 e b), in providing
for the security of all involved (3, points f-2 e j), taking care of the wounded (3, points
f-2 and g), using women police to handle women (4, point f), anticipates an extensive
legal base in the Federal and State Constitutions and federal and state law (item 2). These
provisions of the rule are hypocritical22, because with them there is an attempt to
“mask” the instruction with democratic images, appearances of the state of law, founded
on laws, constituting the “ideological text” of IO-6 and which hides the real text, the
“stressed text”, that it is the institution of a policy of prevention, to repress social
movements, as has been shown, and will continue being shown, in this paper; as is being
proven by the way in which and against whom the instruction has been used in practice,
in the concrete facts of real life, for example:
- November 28 2007: 300 members of the Movement of Unemployed Workers
who occupied the former Corlac factory are evicted by force without negotiations and
are required to “march” to the police station;
- March 4 2008: women of La Via Campesina who were occupying the Tarumã
Farm, belonging to Stora Enso, are evicted by force, without negotiations, following a
court order or a complaint by the property owner. At least 50 women were wounded,
among them two pregnant women, whose pregnancies were threatened because of
The secret files seem to be like those kept by the DOPS during the military dictatorship.
Hypocrisy “proves its respect for duty and virtue, taking on their appearance and using them as a mask for one’s conscience, just as
for other people’s conscience” (HEGEL). Hypocrisy is one of the multiple masks of insincerity of those who hide the particularity
of interest by means of universality of duty; a mask that falls when faced with a criticism capable of unveiling the true interests behind
the appearance of universality, confronting thus the “ideological text” with the “highlighted text”. (Safatle, op. cit., p. 29).




blows from billy clubs. One landless woman was arrested. All the women were
identified, had their ID cards taken by the Military Battalion, were separated from
their children and from the few men. A video with images of the attacks was
illegally confiscated by the Military Brigade;
- March 14, 2008: seven teachers and one student are arrested and handcuffed
during a protest in the Administrative Center in Porto Alegre;
- May 20, 2008: the Military Battalion prevents students from carrying out a
protest in front of the State Secretary of Education in Porto Alegre. A student
was temporarily detained;
- June 10, 2008: five farmers were wounded during the occupation of Bunge,
in Passo Fundo, during the national campaign against agribusiness. The Brigade
isolated the area, even without having an order to retake possession or a complaint
from the owner. There was no negotiation, only tear gas and rubber bullets shot
at the head of the demonstrators;
- June 11, 2008: Twelve people wounded (one seriously, with internal
hemorrhage owing to the blows that he received) and another 12 were arrested
during a protest against transnational corporations and corruption of the Yeda
government. The march was prevented from moving through the streets of Porto Alegre.
- October 16, 2008 (in the morning): more than 200 bank workers on strike
and in a protest in front of the central agency of Banrisul, were dispersed with
billy clubs and attacks without any prior negotiation;.
- October 16, 2008 (in the evening): the participants in the 13th March of
Those Without (Cry of the Excluded) were prevented from carrying out a public
event in front of the Piratini Palace by the shock troops of the Military Brigade,
personally commanded by Colonel Mendes (general commandant of the Military
Brigade). One teacher had her leg fractured and another demonstrator received
deep cuts on her neck, both caused by “moral effect” bombs.
In Rio Grande do Sul, those who oppose the ruling system can no longer
meet in a specific place or carry out a demonstration without the “participation”
of the Military Brigade. IO-6 set up an autonomous police structure and a
preventative policy similar to the German Kavala, and, in practice, instituted “rigid”
police actions in demonstrations, identical to the era of the Brazilian military
dictatorship, without, paradoxically, revoking the “Constitution” or formally
suspending the “right of assembly”. So IO-6 set up a “dual” state: without revoking
the structure of the Democratic State based on Law, creating a second (totalitarian)
structure that can exist alongside the first, thanks to the generalization of the


emergency directives; dual also because it follows, at the same time, Law and its

The silence of (in)justice
“The size of the virulence indicates the size of the combat”
This section is aimed at highlighting that it is only when the mechanisms and institutions
of the Rule of Law, which were created to inspect and deter abuses by the police forces
and ensure fundamental rights—institutions among which we can cite the Attorney
General’s Office— are lacking, that the situation that has been happening in Rio Grande
do Sul can occur. In various episodes complicity has been established between those
responsible for the oversight of the law and illegality, between authority and crime.
The fact that “institution” of the Attorney General’s Office of Rio Grande do Sul
was missing in action can be inferred from the filing of the request to set up the Direct
Action of Unconstitutionality against IO-6, formulated by the special commission of
the Council for Defense of the Rights of the Human Person (agency of the Brazilian
State responsible for the investigation of human rights violations), created to analyze the
situation in Rio Grande do Sul. The legal ruling welcomed by the Attorney General
concluded that technically “it is not possible to question Instruction Operational Note n.
006.1/EMBM/2007 in the headquarters of concentrated control of constitutionality”,
advocating the filing of the item and not proposing any other measure against IO-6.
The “impartiality” that has characterized the actions of judges and prosecutors,
especially of the “Republic of Carazinho” recalls that of Le Chapelier. On April 14,
1791, the Fraternal Union of Construction Workers of Paris tried to sign a minimum
wage agreement with the contractors. The businessmen did not want to sign the agreement
and stated that the movement intended to “impose their requests by force”, constituting
The same duality restores State Decree 28-10-08 N. 45,959 which, without revoking the right to strike of state public employees,
considers as an “unauthorized absence” the days not worked because of a strike or work stoppage. The “second structure” created by
the decree determines that the heads of the public government bureaus are forbidden from certifying the effectiveness of the public employees
who are striking under penalty of criminal responsibility, as well as the colleagues of the striking workers who had knowledge of the
stoppage by the other workers, and even establishes the restoration of unionism against the employee who “misses service” for more than
30 days because of “unauthorized absence”, that is, because of a strike (such unionism makes possible the dismissal of the employee).
To consider a strike as an “unauthorized absence”, besides not paying for the days, has consequences on the holidays, on the bonus,
cafeteria subsidies, transportation subsidies, promotions, and other things. In 2008, the state teachers carried out various work stoppages
as well as the employees of SUSEPE (penitentiary services) who went on strike for 40 days. The employees of the civil police had
announced a state of strike some days before the decree and a month earlier (September), the court employees (SINTRAJUFE) had been
“warned” by the Court of Justice that the employees who participated in stoppages would have the point cut (which did not occur, because
of the absence of legal provision). As preparation for the decree, in September the state government annulled the release of CPERSUnion (teachers) leaders.



“an attack on the rights of men and on the freedom of individuals”. The workers then
presented a petition to the city asking the city to intervene in their favor. The mayor of
Paris intervened by publishing a manifesto, accusing those participating in the movement
of “breaking the law, enemies of freedom and guilty as disturbers of the peace and
public order”. On June 14, member of the Chamber of Deputies Le Chapelier presented
a proposal for a law to the National Assembly, accepting the assumptions of the
businessmen that the right to freedom of assembly, sanctioned by the Declaration of
the Rights of Man, did not allow citizens belonging to specific professions to meet to
defend their common interests. The Le Chapelier Law, approved on June 17, 1791,
impartially outlawed “worker associations”, to advocate salary increases, as well as “owner
coalitions” to reduce salaries. The example of France was followed by England in 1800.
The motives for these laws are the interests of class; the French bourgeoisie, after having
taken power with the help of the Fourth Estate, did not intend to share with them the
advantages of the new position. For the liberals, freedom, proclaimed by the Declaration
of the Rights of Man, was the right to ownership and free competition. For the workers,
freedom was the right to have a more dignified life (BENEVOLO, 2006, p. 19-21).
The French liberals, just like the Carazinho liberals, took a position in defense of
“order” and of property, although they show their “impartiality” in their petitions. The
Federal Constitution speaks, in article 3º, I, of social justice as a fundamental goal of the
Brazilian Republic, but it also speaks in legality, in its article 5º, II, as in its caption in article
37. There are cases, however, in which the values of order and justice are shown as
incompatible and we are obliged to take a position for one side or the other. The June 3,
2008 column in the newspaper O Globo by the writer from Rio Grande do Sul, Luis
Fernando Veríssimo, reflects on this conflict, recalling that Goethe was said to prefer injustice
to disorder. Verissimo states that “whoever finds that disorder is worse than injustice has
nothing to complain about and nothing to appeal”. This is the case of the big estate
owners who are members of FARSUL, who rejoiced with the preventative ban in the
district that was extremely favorable to them since they only have to complain and appeal
about their interest in keeping things as they are: they don’t need to demonstrate. The
landless are in a different situation—they need to organize as a movement and carry out
protests to try to get a few small bits of Brazilian lands to change hands.
What we have seen is sectors of the Judiciary Branch and of the Attorney General’s
Office24, to not make a gross generalization, stating that “the whole” institution has
The partiality of these institutions and of the media can be seen because there are numerous “task forces” of the MPE: war on drugs,
corruption and organized crime, defense of the environment, historical patrimony, but none against the criminalization of the social
movements (even after all the accusations presented). Different treatment is given to other accusations present against the social
movements: “NGOs enter the list… The Public Ministry of Accounts….sent...representation… requesting investigation of the use
of public funds by NGOs linked to agrarian reform and resettlement in the State.”(CORREIO DO POVO, 2008).




adopted this stand – generally by intermediary of its members that act and have jurisdiction
over areas of conflict (such as Carazinho, Canoas, Pedro Osório and São Gabriel, in
the case of the MST; or Nonoai and Planalto, in the case of those affected by dams), are
preferring to defend the accused, in the majority of cases, dropping their role of overseeing
and punishing abuses by the police (in the case of the MPE) when they have not acted
against the accused, being accomplices in crimes, such as in the case of the use of the
“secret reports” of the Military Brigade against the MPE. All this makes us remember,
once again, the Brazilian military dictatorship, era of loving Brazil as it was or leaving it,
which supposedly ended in 1985, an era in which the “law” was used, with a “at the
court’s pleasure”, to persecute workers, journalists, students, and clergy for facts that
have nothing to do with the security of the State. The trial of the metalworkers of São
Paulo for carrying out a peaceful strike without any political connotation was just one
scandal. It’s true that the court ended up declaring the incompetence of the Military
Justice, but allowed, for an intolerable time, the trial to continue. The leaders of the
metalworkers were preliminarily jailed and after preventively jailed, putting Military Justice
scandalously on the side of the bosses. (FRAGOSO, 2008).

We could state that the decade of the greatest “tolerance” for pressure from popular movements, unions, environmentalists, indigenous, etc. which are natural in a democratic
society – and which coincide with a moment in which these pressures were greater and
stronger and with the existence of a democratic constitutional order – is being undermined
by the ideology of exceptionalism2525 Ideology that guides the external security policy
of the United States since September 11, 2001 (DUNNE, 2007), as well as the public
security policy of RS after 2007 – when Yeda Rorato Crusius came to office as the
Governor of the state., which appears to affirm itself as a general rule of western
The new liberals, cynically assumed or hypocritically masked, those who prefer injustice
to disorder, who want to perpetuate our societies divided into classes, but do not admit
that there are conflicts in it, link themselves to a liberal tradition of democracy, to which,
according to the Brazilian philosopher Marilena Chauí (2006), recalling Espinosa, sees
democracy as the rule of law and of order to ensure individual liberties, which redounds
in the attempt to contain social conflicts. They forget, according to the philosopher, that
democracy, more than respect for established laws, is conflict. Democracy is the only
form of politics that considers conflict legitimate. According to Espinoza, good politics
is when hope (“a changeable happiness about the idea of future or past thing”)
overcomes fear (“a changeable sadness about the idea of a future or past thing”) and


allows harmony to overcome discord among men. But not any harmony—it has to be
democratic harmony, that is, a regime in which citizens are not submitted to any tyrannical
power. Peace is not simply the absence of war. A city in which peace depends on the
inertia of the subjects must more correctly be called solitude, not city (CHAUÍ, 2006).
From there, the possibility of uniting the idea of harmony with the possibility of conflict,
peculiar to democracy:
Instead of security (which for Espinosa would be the happiness of hope without
the threat of fear), the power of one only reintroduces the contingency on a deeper
level, because everything appears to depend on the capricious will of just one. This
produces endless insecurity and instability. (CHAUÍ, 2006).
In this context of the hegemony of the liberal conception of democracy in Rio
Grande do Sul, of the prevalence of order over justice, generalization of the paradigm
of security as a normal technique of government and of the attempt to suffocate the
social conflicts resulting from class divisions in our society, we should defend, as Heleno
Fragoso defended in the era of the military dictatorship, that which really provides
security and which characterizes a democratic regime: the maximum possible application
of the sphere of freedom and of tolerance towards those who oppose the ruling
system, exhorting the judicial power and the attorney general’s office so that they are not
part of the repressive apparatus, that they put themselves at the service of the ruling
class, in the state of emergency in which we live, and which unfortunately is, in truth, the
general rule.


Case analysis revealed that the precarious state of labor relations in the
São Paulo cane fields exists by reason of the large supply of labor coming
from other states, on the one hand, and, on the other, the flexibilization
of labor standards caused by neo-liberal policies. The workers have a low
level of education, which means their knowledge and access to labor
rights is restricted. This fact is one more aggravation of the situation of
exploitation to which these workers are submitted.

Denial of Rights in the “World Ethanol Capital”
Maria Aparecida de Mores Silva1 and Jadir Damião Ribeiro2
The State of São Paulo is today the largest producer of sugar and ethanol in Brazil.
The area occupied by sugarcane cultivation corresponds to 5.1 million hectares, with
perspectives for continual growth in coming years, aimed, above all, at the production
of ethanol for national and international markets. While this production increases, others
decline, principally food production. Additionally, this process implies a concentration
of land, not to mention the fact that in recent years mechanization of cane cutting has
intensified, which is responsible for the continual reduction of jobs, not only for local
workers but also for migrants. Furthermore, this production is characterized by constant
increases in labor productivity levels, by means of imposition of a daily production
average, currently about 12 tons of cut cane. Such facts contributed to the occurrence
of 22 deaths in the period from 2004 to 2008, due to excess of labor.
Maria Aparecida de Mores Silva is a Professor at UNESP (State University of São Paulo), a member of the Post-Graduate
Programs in Sociology at UFSCar and Geography at UNESP/PP, and a CNPq researcher.
Jadir Damião Ribeiro is a scholarship recipient in the CNPq Science Track, graduating from the School of Law of the Franca
Municipal Law Foundation.



The objective of this text is to analyze the workers’ forms of resistance with respect
to the disregarding of their rights. To this end, we will present some quantitative data
referring to workers’ claims, the result of research carried out in the Labor Courts of
the cities of the Ribeirão Preto region of São Paulo, where there is great concentration
of large mills, an area formerly known as “The Brazilian California,” and which is now,
due to ethanol production, called the “World Ethanol Capital.”
Firstly, we want to distance ourselves from the erroneous idea that the legal system
is a neutral field. We presume that this field is influenced by political and economic
power, conflicts, disputes and resistance.
The following graphs are the result of labor complaints initiated by cane cutters in
the region.

Graph 1 Actions instituted by rural workers in the courts of Batatais, Franca, Sertãozinho (2002-2006). Field Reseearch (2007).



Graph 2 Motions by the authors of claims in the courts of Batatais, Franca,
Sertãozinho (2002-2006). Field Research (2007).

Graph 3 Items claimed by rural workers in the courts of Batatais, Franca,
Sertãozinho (2002-2006). Field Research (2007).



Case analysis revealed that the precarious state of labor relations in São Paulo cane
fields exists by reason of the large supply of labor coming from other states, on the one
hand, and, on the other, the flexibilization of labor standards. The workers have a low
level of education, which means their knowledge and access to labor rights is restricted.
Even in the face of a legal problem, these workers hesitate to continue with their claims,
because of their labor dependency of the industry. Labor standards are disregarded,
particularly NR31, which regulates relations in the rural labor environment. This fact is one
more aggravation of the situation of exploitation to which these workers are submitted.
In some of the cases analyzed, this situation was interpreted by the judges as slavery.
The excessive force imposed during the work day caused, between 2004 and 2008, the
death of 22 workers in São Paulo, according to the Pastoral Migrant Office.
In the First Court of Jaboticabal, the claims are as follows3: labor contract of a
determined length, when it should be for an indeterminate length; fraudulent third party
outsourcing in the rural environment; non-payment of salary differentials; non-payment
of constitutional 1/3 increase in holidays; non-payment of the thirteenth month’s salary;
non-payment of weekly rests; non-payment of the forty percent (40%) indemnity on
FGTS; non-payment of the health additive; non-payment of the share in the mill’s
profits; non-payment of unemployment insurance; the requirement to work by production
and not by the hour; lack of a health plan, among others.
Regarding labor relations, the most common claims are: unhealthy work environment;
moral coercion; imposition of a goal to be met daily; work performed at locales without
public transportation; violation of personal rights (moral damages); arbitrary dismissal, etc.
And, finally, the data point out:
- 82% of the claims were made by men; 18% by women; 84% were migrant
workers; 25% were between 18 and 55 years old; 93% of the labor contracts had a
duration of six to eight months; 30% of the litigation was resolved in the first round of
negotiation (agreements); 70% of the claims continued; 8% of the claimants withdrew
their claims.

The contractual illegality of the 5X1 system
The Federal Constitution of 1988 assures that rural workers who work for thirty
days will have, for each 6 days worked, one paid day of rest, preferably on Sundays, in
accordance with Article 7, Paragraph XV, of CF/88. But in the sugarcane industry the
work system is called 5x1, which means that people work 5 or 6 days with one day off.
Under this system, people are required to work Sundays and holidays. However, the

According to Jaboticabal Forum employees, of 2,000 judicial cases, 85% were or are being made by rural workers.



workers do not receive overtime pay, which corresponds to 50% of the normal hourly
rate. This system makes it difficult for workers to organize and maintain social relations.
They are deprived of having time for their families and friends. In several of the trials
we analyzed, the workers claim that they received threats from the company if they
didn’t accept the 5X1 system.

The unhealthiness of work in the sugarcane fields4
Our research showed that in 95% of the claims judged in the Jaboticabal Labor
Court, the workers demanded additional payment, alleging unhealthy working conditions,
with exposure to the sun. They also argued that their health was endangered by inhalation
of the soot produced by burning the sugarcane stalks. The experts named by the Court
concluded that, in fact, rural workers are subject to two unhealthy agents: heat, by reason
of which they are due an additive of 20% in their salary, and cane soot, which gives
them the right to another 40% pay increase.
According to one of the experts named by the court, “the work performed by the
claimant is subject to the physical agent of heat, as well as chemical agents from the
aromatic hydrocarbons and other carbon compounds related to incomplete burning of
sugarcane stalks”.
The investigation also concluded that the burning of sugarcane, as well as
exposure to high temperature, causes fatigue and excessive sweating. Thus, for the
experts, the quantity of sweat produced can, in short periods, reach up to two liters
per hour. The doctors say that at the rate of one liter per hour a man can theoretically
lose 600 Kcal/hour. The effects of such exposure to intense heat produce so-called
heat illnesses, as, if the blood flow in the skin and the production of sweat were
insufficient to promote adequate heat loss, or if these mechanisms stop functioning
appropriately, physiological fatigue can occur.
These heat illnesses are divided into heat exhaustion, dehydration, heat cramps,
and thermal shock. With regard to heat exhaustion, such is caused by an insufficient
supply of blood for the cerebral cortex, resulting in the dilation of blood vessels in
response to the heat. Low blood pressure is the result, in part, of an inadequate
movement of blood from the heart and, in part, of vasodilation that affects a large
area of the human body.
With regard to dehydration of the workers, in its initial stage, it reduces the volume
of blood, causing heat exhaustion. But, in extreme cases, it causes disturbances in cellular
function, even leading to deterioration of the organism. Muscular deficiency, reduction
of secretions (especially by the salivary glands), loss of appetite, difficulty in swallowing,
accumulation of acid in tissue will occur with elevated intensity. Thus, for the experts,


dehydration causes temporary uraemia, fever, and can even cause death. “Dehydration
in extreme cases can lead to death.”6
Heat cramps, according to the physicians, occur when the sodium chloride in the
blood is reduced, so as to reach concentrations less than a critical point in muscular
spasms. Thus, a high loss of chloride is facilitated by intense sweating and lack of
acclimatization. Research shows that the cane cutters are subject to various highly unhealthy
agents working in the open air. These unhealthy agents, together with the increased levels
of exploitation of the labor force and the imbalance in labor relations in the cane sector,
presumably were the principal causes of death of cane cutters in the period between
2004 and 2008.7
However, in spite all these problems, our research demonstrates that cane cutters
are not mere passive victims of the exploitation process to which they are submitted. In
2008, there were several strikes in the state of São Paulo, in addition to hundreds of
workers quitting before harvest was completed.

Guimarães, Thiago. “Queima de cana-de-açúcar pode causar cancer em cortadores” (Burning of sugarcane can cause cancer in
cutters). Accessed on 22/02/2008.


The region of the Cerrado (a savannah) is as important for its richness in
biodiversity as the Amazon—it is shelter for nearly 160,000 species of plants
and animals, many of which are endangered species. However, its destruction
has not generated much visibility, in spite of the intensity and consequences it
has caused. Studies indicate that each year nearly 22,000 square kilometers of
savannah are cleared. It is estimated that more than half of the region has
already been devastated, and at this rate, its total destruction will be complete
by the year 2030. In June of 2008, the Institute of Man and the Environment
of the Amazon (Imazon) registered an increase in the deforestation rate in the
Amazon, principally in the states of Mato Grosso and Pará , where more than
600,000 square kilometers have been devastated. This number represents a
23% increase from the data gathered in June of 2007. INPE calculates that in
the last 20 years, one hectare [metric unit of area equal to 10,000 square meters,
or 2.471 acres] of forest disappears every 10 seconds in Brazil. Of a total of
four million square kilometers, nearly 700,000 have already been deforested.
Predictions from The Institute for Environmental Research in the Amazon
indicate that another 670,000 square kilometers will be devastated by 2030 if
the current predatory model is maintained in the region.

Impacts of Expansion of Sugarcane
Monocropping for Ethanol Production1
Maria Luisa Mendonça2
Brazil is the fourth country of the world which most emits carbon gas into the
atmosphere. This occurs principally because of the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest,
This text was prepared with the help of Isidoro Revers, Marluce Melo and Plácido Júnior and was extracted from the report “Impactos
da produção de cana no Cerrado e Amazônia” (“Impacts of the production of sugarcane in the Cerrado and the Amazon”), published
by The Pastoral Land Commission and the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. It was translated into English by Sheila
Rutz, with the support of Global Exchange.
Maria Luisa Mendonça is the director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights.



a destruction which accounts for 80% of the carbon gas emissions in the country.3 The
expansion of monocropping for the production of agro-fuels tends to exacerbate this
problem, advancing the agricultural borders of the Amazon and the Cerrado.
Diverse studies show that the expansion of monocropping represents a greater risk
for global warming that do emissions of carbon coming from fossil fuels. In spite of
the Brazilian government’s attempts to convince the international community that Brazilian
ethanol is “renewable,” between 2007 and 2008 there was a significant change with
regard to this idea.
The problem of many studies done before was that they excluded the environmental
impacts of the model of production, from the use of natural resources (like land and
water) to the pressure to use preservation areas, or areas used for food production. One
report from Time Magazine observes that these studies have calculated the potential to tie
up carbon from agro-fuels without taking into account the impact of monocropping in
areas where vegetation and soil accumulate a great quantity of carbon. “It is as if these
scientists image that biofuels are cultivated in parking lots,” said the article.4
One of the most important studies about the change in the forms of land use and
its relation to the increase in carbon emissions was published in Science magazine. The
authors affirm that “The majority of the previous studies discovered that replacing
gasoline with biofuels could reduce carbon emission. Those analyses do not take into
account that carbon emission happens when farmers, throughout the world, respond to
higher prices and convert forests and fields into new plantations, to substitute plantations
of grain which were used for biofuels.”5
The article cites the increase in soy prices as an influencing factor in the acceleration
of deforestation in the Amazon, and estimates that its cultivation for the production of
diesel results in a carbon debt from which will take 319 years to recover. According to
researcher Timothy Searchinger, from Princeton University, “Forests and fields have
much carbon, however, there is no way to reap the benefits by transforming these lands
into crops for biofuels.” This study demonstrates that the effects of production of
agro-fuels should be evaluated with the whole cycle of monoculture expansion. In
Brazil, we know that sugarcane plantations are expanding very quickly, “pushing” forward
agricultural borders and, at the same time, preparing the way for the expansion of
cattle-raising and soy production. Given this, a true environmental impact study should
include the whole agricultural sector and the whole process of ethanol production.
Seedling Magazine, July, 2007,
Time Magazine, April 14, 2008, The Clean Energy Myth.
Science Magazine, February 28, 2008 Use of U.S. Cropland for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from
Land-Use change.



In January of 2008, the Smithsonian Institute of Tropical Research reported that
sugar-based ethanol and soy-based agro-diesel cause more damage to the environment
than fossil fuels. The research draws attention to the environmental destruction in Brazil,
caused by the increase in the production of sugarcane and soy in the Amazon, the
Atlantic Rainforest, and the Cerrado. According to researcher William Laurance, “the
production of fuels, be it from soy or sugar, also causes an increase in the cost of food,
both in a direct and indirect way.”6
The release of these studies confirms the denouncements from social organizations
and shows the change in tone of the international debate on these issues. As the newspaper
El País observes, “diverse research centers, and the majority of ecological and human
rights groups send out daily declarations affirming that biofuels do not help to combat
climatic changes, but provoke serious environmental impacts on regions with high
ecological value, alter the price of food, and consolidate an agricultural model based on
exploitation of workers and high dependence on big multinational companies.”7

The Expansion of Sugarcane Plantations in the Cerrado
The Cerrado is known as the “father of water,” for it fills up the principal water
basins of the country. With nearly two million square kilometers, this biome is
located between the Amazon, the Atlantic Rainforest, the Pantanal, the Caatinga,
and includes the states of Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás,
the Federal District, Tocantins, the south of Maranhão, the west of Bahia, and part
of the state of São Paulo.
The region is as important for its richness in biodiversity as the Amazon—It is shelter
for nearly 160,000 species of plants and animals, many of which are endangered species.
However, its destruction has not generated much visibility, in spite of the intensity and the
consequences it has caused. Studies indicate that each year nearly 22,000 square kilometers
of savannah are cleared. It is estimated that more than half of the region has already been
devastated, and at this rate, its total destruction will be complete by the year 2030.
In the last few years, the Brazilian government has targeted the Cerrado as a priority
area for the expansion of sugarcane, for this region is characterized by favorable
topography—it is level, of good quality, and has water-supply potential. Facts furnished
by IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), show that in the 2007 harvest,
sugarcane production occupied 5.8 million hectares of the Cerrado.8
Lusa, 09/01/2008 , Estudo da “Science” diz que etanol pode ser mais nocivo ao Ambiente do que a gasolina ( “Science” study
says that ehtanol can be more harmful to the Environment than gasoline),
El País, Biocombustíveis perdem o rótulo ecológico (Biofuels lose their ecological label), 31/3/2008.
PrimaPagina, Cana pressiona área de proteção no Cerrado (Cane pressures protected area in the Cerrado),09/04/2008, http://



The sugarcane industry has expanded rapidly and generated enormous
environmental damage. To begin planting sugarcane, it is necessary to clear the
native vegetation, and thus all of the trees are uprooted. In August of 2008, an
agreement between the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture
resulted in a series of modifications in the Law of Environmental Crimes. One of
these results was announced in a decree from President Lula that allows for the
construction of sugarcane factories in the Pantanal. According to data from the
National Institute for Space Research (INPE), from IBGE and the Ministry of the
Environment (MMA), new sugarcane factories are being built in conservation areas,
close to natural springs.
One report from the Society, Population and Nature Institute (ISPN) affirms
that “Deforestation done for sugarcane production directly harms rural populations
who survive off the biodiversity of the Cerrado. The other terminal consequence
is that small food farmers leave their lands, having been lured into temporary
employment in the sugarcane fields. This will diminish the food production in the
area, which only serves to aggravate the migration to urban slums.”10
A study from the Center for Studies in Applied Economics, University of São
Paulo, estimates that in the next five year, US$14.6 billion will be spent in the
construction of 73 new ethanol companies in the Center-South region. Researcher
Sérgio De Zen believes that “Ethanol has become an environmental threat.”11
According to professor Antônio Thomaz Júnior of the Department of
Geography of the State University of São Paulo (Unesp), “the expansion of
sugarcane in Brazil for the production of ethanol may certainly advance over areas
currently cultivating food crops, besides placing at risk the integrity of important
biomes, like the Amazon and Pantanal.”12
Another concern is the demand for water in agro-fuels production. The director of the Scientific Committee of the Stockholm International Institute for Water,
Jan Lundqvist, warns that “Currently the quantity of water used throughout the
world in food production is approximately 7,000 m³. In 2050, the prediction is
that this quantity will increase to 11,000 m³, almost double of what it is today. And
the projections indicate that the demand of water necessary to produce biofuels
PrimaPagina, Plantio ocupou, em 2007, 162 mil hectares do bioma que hoje o governo indica como áreas de conservação (Planting
occupied, in 2007, 162,000 hectares of the biome that the goverrnment today says are conservation areas), 08/04/2008.
O Estado de São Paulo, Cana coloca em risco o cerrado brasileiro (Cane puts the Brazilian Cerrado at Risk) 03/12/07, 01:54,
O Estado de S. Paulo, Cana invade os pastos e expulsa os rebanhos (Cane invades fields and drives out livestock), 15/04/07.
Cana pode prejudicar meio ambiente e produção de alimentos Cane may harm the environment and food production), 03/04/2007,



will increase in the same proportions as the demand of water for food production,
which would represent 20 -30 m³ of water in 2050. This is just not possible.”13
One study on the environmental impact of ethanol production on water sources,
published by the National Academies Press reveals that “The quality of underground
water, rivers, the coast, and springs can be impacted by the rise in use of fertilizers and
pesticides in biofuel production. High levels of nitrogen are the principal cause of the
decrease of oxygen in regions known as ‘death zones,’ which are lethal for the majority
of living beings. Pollution sedimented in lakes and rivers can also cause soil erosion.” 14

Devastation of Brazilian Amazonia
In recent years, INPE (National Institute for Space Research) has published alarming
data on the rate of deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia. Between August 2006 and July
2007 the devastation affected 11,200 km2. Between August 2007 and March 2008, the
System for Detection of Deforestation in Real Time (Deter) recorded 4,732 km2 of
deforestation.15 In April 2008 more than 1.1 thousand km2 of forest were devastated.16
In June of 2008, the Institute of Man and the Environment of the Amazon (Imazon)
registered an increase in the deforestation rate in the Amazon, principally in the states of
Mato Grosso and Pará , where more than 600,000 square kilometers have been devastated.
This number represents a 23% increase from the data gathered in June of 2007. According
to Paulo Barreto, a representative for Imazon, this increase is a result of the expansion
of farming and ranching in the region.17
INPE calculates that in the last 20 years, one hectare of forest disappears every 10
seconds in Brazil. Of a total of four million square kilometers, nearly 700,000 have
already been deforested. Predictions from The Institute for Environment Research in
the Amazon indicate that another 670,000 square kilometers will be devastated by 2030
if the current predatory model is maintained in the region.18 Another study by the ISPN
warns that deforestation may completely destroy the Brazilian Amazon in only 40 years.19
In July of 2008, research published by PNAS reveals that Brazil was responsible for
47.8% of the destruction of tropical rainforests in the world. The study was conducted
13 BBC Brasil, Biocombustível causaria falta de água (Biofuel could casue water shortage), 13/08/07.
14 National Academies Press, Report Considers Impact of Ethanol Production on Water Resources, 10/10/07 http://
15 Folha de São Paulo, 15/5/2008. “Inpe prevê desmatamento maior em 2008 (INPE anticipates greater deforestation in 2008)”.
16 Radioagência Notícias do Planalto, 03/06/08, Amazônia sofre com crescimento acelerado do desmatamento (Amazonia suffers
from accelerated increase in deforestation).
17 Radioagência Notícias do Planalto, Desmatamento na Amazônia registra alta no mês de junho (Deforestation in Amazonia
reaches record high in June), 29/07/08.
18 Adital – 15/02/08, Amazônia devastada (Amazonia devastated), article by Frei Betto.
19 Última Instância – 16/06/2008, O Ministério Público e a expansão da atividade sucroalcooleira (The Public Prosecutor and
expansion of sugar-alcohol activity), article by Jefferson Aparecido Dias.



by professor Matthew Hensen of the University of South Dakota (USA), and covered the
time period from 2000 - 2005.20 All recent studies show the biggest level of Brazilian Amazon
deforestation happened in the state of Mato Grosso, responsible for 54% of the total. This
state is followed by Pará with 18%, and Rondônia with 16%.21
This data demonstrates the impact of the expansion of large-scale farming activities on
deforestation. This expansion was one of the principal reasons why the former Minister of the
Environment, Marina Silva, left her position. She was under great pressure to give in to the
demands of large-scale farmers, especially given the increase in price of agricultural commodities
due to the rise in relationship of the energy and food markets. The Brazilian government has
ignored the dimension of the environmental crises caused by the implementation of a
development model based on mono-cropping and exportation. This model has caused the
increase in deforestation both in the Amazon and in the Cerrado.
Environmentalist Lester Brown, one of the pioneers in this area, declared in the newspaper
Folha de São Paulo, that “biofuels are the major threat to the diversity of the Planet.” He
suggests that “Brazil begin to develop other sources of energy, such as sun and wind, which
have great potential.” And he asserts, “What we have to do is think of a new economy, with
renewable sources of energy, that have a diversified system of transport, and in which we reuse and recycle everything...If we do not restructure the world economy, economic progress
will not be sustained.”22 However, the Brazilian government continues to insist on defending the
expansion of large-scale mono-cropping for the production of agroenergy. Besides President
Lula’s discourses in favor of this model, the government instituted a series of administrative and
economic measures to facilitate this expansion.

“Grilagem” (Illegal Land Appropriation)
In July of 2008, the Senate approved a Provisionary Measure proposed by the government
increasing the area of public lands in the Amazon which can be sold without auctioning, from
500 to 1,500 hectares. According to former Minister of the Environment, Senator Marina
Silva, who voted against the measure, “This will increase illegal land appropriation and consequently
deforestation in the Amazon. It will encourage the privatization of public forests, without
having to answer to any kind of process of auctioning.”23 On August 6, 2008, President
Lula signed a law regulating this Provisionary Measure, and besides confirming the increase
20 Folha de São Paulo, 01/07/2008, “Brasil é líder total em desmatamento, mostra novo estudo” (New study shows Brazil is the
leader in deforestation)
21 REBRIP – Rede Brasileira pela Integração dos Povos, 28/1/1008, Press note. Desmatamento na Amazônia revela insustentabilidade
do modelo agroexportador Deforestation in Amazonia reveals unsustainability of the agri-exportation model).
22 Folha São Paulo, 2/7/2007. Interview/Lester Brown, “Biocombustíveis são maior ameaça à diversidade na Terra”( Biofuels are
greatest threat to diversity on Earth),
23 Diário de Pernambuco, 10/07/2008, Mais area pública na Amazônia (More public area in Amazonia). http://



of areas which can be sold without auctioning, also vetoed an article which restricted this
measure in certain preservation zones.
The term “grilagem” refers to fraudulent practices of public and private land
appropriation. Historically, this mechanism was utilized to guarantee dominion of the
“colonels” or large-landowners over the vast extension of territories. With the
modernization of agriculture, besides political dominion, land property made possible
the increase of economic and technological dominion, including the advance of
multinational companies which appropriate public lands to produce commodities on a
large scale. The principal mechanisms used in “grilagem” of land are illegal registers
made in cooperation with corrupt registry offices and members of the judiciary system.
The practice of “grilagem,” or illegal possession of public lands, represents a serious
problem in the Amazon, for it serves predatory activities, like illegal extraction of wood,
followed by the implantation of intensive farming and cattle-raising. In July of 2008, a
study by Imazon estimated that nearly 42 million hectares of land in the Amazon are
illegally possessed. According to forestry engineer Paulo Barreto, coordinator of the
study, “this practice is like a free privatization of the forest.”24 Barreto estimates that
besides cases of fraudulent documents, there are nearly 40 million hectares of land with
duplicate titles. Finally, he concludes that the area of illegal possession of land in the
Amazon amounts to at least 80 million hectares.
The majority of irregularities are to be found in the states of Pará, with 16 million
hectares of “grilagem”, and Mato Grosso, with 9.6 million. These states also register
the highest indices of deforestation. Even INCRA (National Institute of Colonization
and Land Reform), which is responsible for the managing of public lands in the Amazon,
admits that it does not have control over the 710.2 thousand square kilometers of the
Amazon. This territory is equivalent to 14% of the region, and 65% of all the lands
regulated by INCRA. The biggest share of this land, the equivalent of 288.6 thousand
square kilometers, is in the state of Pará.25
According to Professor Ariovaldo Umbelino, of the University of São Paulo (USP),
“more than 212 million hectares of pubic land, used or not, are not in the records of
INCRA, nor in the states’ Institutes of Lands, nor in the notary publics’ Registry of Real
Estate. So even though they are fenced off, to the State they do not exist. Another 84
million hectares are registered at INCRA as being owned, and among these, only 21
million hectares are legally possessed through current legislation. It is important to
clarify that the Constitution of 1988 permits ownership regularization of only up to 50
24 O Estado de São Paulo – 6/6/2008, Amazônia: 8,5% das terras tem posse ilegal (Amazonia: 8.5% of lands held illegally).
25 Folha Online 27/06/2008, País ignora o que ocorre em 14% da Amazônia, diz Incra (Country ignores what happens in 14%
of Amazonia, says INCRA).



hectares, and only exceptionally up to 100 hectares. Any occupied area greater than this
cannot be legalized.”26

The Expansion of Sugarcane Cultivation in the Amazon
On July 29, 2007, Minster of Agriculture Reinhold Stephanes declared to O Globo
newspaper that, “There is no sugarcane in the Amazon. We know of no such projects,
old or new, in the region.” This affirmation was been repeated many times by President
Lula, who wants to avoid criticism, especially from countries which plan to import
Brazilian ethanol. In June of 2008, in his speech to the UN’s Food and Agriculture
Organization, President Lula affirmed that there was no production of sugarcane in the
However, even the National Supply Company (CONAB)—an organ linked to the
Ministry of Agriculture—registered an increase in the production of sugarcane in the
Amazon from 17.6 million tons to 19.3 million tons between 2007-2008.27 In Tocantins,
there was a 13% increase (from 4.5 thousand to 5.1 thousand hectares), followed by
Mato Grosso with a 10% increase, and the state of Amazonas with 8% (from 4.8
thousand to 5.2 thousand hectares). In Pará, sugarcane plantations occupy around 10.5
thousand hectares. According to research from the University of São Paulo, Pará is seen
as one of the principal areas of expansion for the production of ethanol.28
In 2006, CONAB demonstrated that the Northern region has the highest indices of
increase in sugarcane production in the country. The expansion was 68.9% in Tocantins,
55.1% in Amazonas and 34.3% in Pará. The production from the three states was 1.6
million tons, representing an increase of 46.8% in relation to the previous harvest.29
This data has generated concern in Brazil and in other countries. According to researcher
Écio Rodrigues, from the Federal University of Acre (Ufac), “The carbon from the
destruction of the forest will not be recuperated by planting sugarcane. For this reason
the world is very worried about the transformation of Brazil into a major exporter of
biofuels.”30 Pressured by criticisms from various sectors, the Brazilian government decided
to create a zoning project for the expansion of sugarcane plantations. However, the
government did not explain what it will do with current sugarcane plantations in the
Amazon, Pantanal, and Cerrado.
26 Brasil de Fato, Lula é o presidente companheiro dos grileiros da Amazônia (Lula is the President-buddy of the Amazon grileiros),
article by Ariovaldo Umbelino, 08/08/2008,
27 Adital – 11/02/08, Amazônia, ecocídio anunciado, (Amazonia, Ecocide Announced) article by Frei Betto.
29 Jornal Valor Econômico, 01/06/2006.
30 Cana-de-açúcar avança na Amazônia com recursos públicos (Sugar Cane Advances in Amazonia with public funds), 16/06/



The expansion of sugarcane plantations in states located in
the Amazon and Cerrado
Acre: The Álcool Verde plant planted more than 2,000 hectares of sugarcane along
the BR-317 highway, and has plans to reach more than 30,000 hectares in the region,
with the capacity of producing 3 million tons of sugar per harvest.31 Álcool Verde
predicts a production of 36 million liters of ethanol in the first harvest, and plans to
increase its production of sugar fivefold by 2015.32 Embrapa (Brazilian Institute for
Agriculture Research) predicts that in the municipality of Capixaba, sugarcane production
will increase tenfold by 2012. Currently, there are nearly 45 square kilometers of sugarcane
in Capixaba, which is 70 kilometers from Rio Branco. Some see this as a strategic state,
for it could serve as a bridge for ethanol exportation to the Pacific Ocean through the
Transoceanic Highway, which connects Brazil and Peru.
Amazonas: CONAB estimates that the production of sugarcane in the state will
increase from 273.1 thousand tons to 303 thousand tons between 2007-2008, representing
an increase of 10.90%.34 There is a plan for the production of ethanol at a company
named Jayoro, which includes the cultivation of 60,000 hectares of sugarcane in regions
of native forests.
Goiás: The sugarcane plantations occupy 339.2 thousand hectares. In 2005, the
planted area was 174,756 hectares; in 2006 it rose to 256,998 hectares, which represents
an increase of 47.06%. According to the Union for the Sugar Industry of the State of
Goiás (Sifaeg), in the 2008/2009 harvest, there are 27 plants in operation, with a predicted
increase to 55 plants by 2012. In total, there are 97 projects for new plants, with fiscal
incentives approved by the state government.35 The increase in the production of ethanol
in this year’s harvest will be 78%, producing 2.12 billion liters.36 Besides the destruction
of native vegetation, the sugarcane industry replaces areas of food production and
cattle-raising, expanding the agricultural borders through the Amazon.
Maranhão: Data from IBGE indicate that between 2005-2006 the cultivation of
sugarcane in the state increased by 20.93%.37 In September of 2006, the state government
31 AGÊNCIA AMAZÔNIA, Acre deve ampliar cultivo de cana para produzir etanol (Acre to widen cane cultivation to produce ethanol).
32 O Estado de São Paulo, Usineiro paulista vai para o Acre (Paulista sugar mill goes to Acre), 02/03/2007
33 Folha de São Paulo, Embrapa relata expansão de cana na Amazônia (EMBRAPA reports cane expansion in Amazonia), 1/6/08.
35 Jornal O Popular, Estado tem 97 projetos aprovados para implantação ou expansão de usinas de álcool e açúcar (State has 97 projects
approved for startup or expansion of alcohol and sugar factories), 04/06/08.
36 Jornal O Popular. Produção de álcool em usinas goianas vai crescer 78% este ano (Alcohol production at Goiana plants to increase 78%
this year).
37 Plantações de cana aumemtam 20% no MA (MA cane fields increase by 20%), 5//2/06.



created the Maranhão Program for the Production of Biofuel, which plans for the
construction of 45 new plants, with estimates to produce between 4-7 billion liters of
ethanol.38 The government cites [as part of the program] the advantages of the facilities
of the Port of Itaqui, and two railways, the Carajás railway, and the Railway Company
of the Northeast. The first part of the project plans for the construction of 20 plants in
five years, which would represent and expansion of 15% in the national production of
ethanol. According to the governor of Maranhão, the state would be able to use 500,000
hectares for sugarcane plantations.39
Mato Grosso: Currently, there are 11 functioning plants in Mato Grosso. The
sugarcane plantations occupy the regions of the Pantanal, the Cerrado, and the Amazon,
an area of 214,511 hectares. In the last harvest, the plants processed around 16,750,000
tons of sugarcane, achieving a production of 538,139 tons of sugar and 844,395 m³ of
ethanol.40 The sugarcane harvest in 2008 should increase by 6%, and the plantations will
occupy 216,037 hectares.41 The Secretary of Planning hopes to triple the current 800
million liters of ethanol. According to Sindalcool-MT, expansion of sugarcane plantations
by nearly 2 million hectares is anticipated around the municipality of Alto Taquari. A
new plant will cultivate 35,000 hectares in the region beginning in 2009, with the capacity
to process 3 million tons of sugarcane.42
Mato Grosso do Sul: CONAB estimates an increase of 51,000 hectares of sugarcane
plantations in Mato Grosso do Sul in the 2007/2008 harvest, which signifies a 32%
increase over the previous harvest which already included 160,000 hectares. Thus, the
state will have 211.1 thousand hectares of sugarcane production.43 There are nine plants
installed in the state, and nearly 50 new projects, with solicitations for fiscal incentives,
which may occupy up to 800,000 hectares in the next few years. This according to
predictions from the state’s Secretary for Agrarian Development.44 In August of 2008,
Governor Antré Pucicnelli affirmed that “Mato Grosso do Sul will be the world’s
biggest producer of ethanol in seven years.”45
Minas Gerais: Data from CONAB indicate that the sugarcane harvest in 2008 will
be 60.2 million tons. This quantity is 47% more than last year’s harvest of 46 million
38 Maranhão lança projeto para produção de etanol (Maranhão begins ethanol production project), 04/09/2006,
39Radiobrás, Maranhão terá programa de incentivo ao plantio de cana-de-açúcar para geração de energia (Maranhão to have incentive program
for planting sugar cane for energy production),
40 IBGE,
41 Jornal A Gazeta, Mato Grosso terá a maior safra de cana este ano (Mato Grosso will have the largest cane harvest this year), 11/3/08.
42 Google News, Cana-de-açúcar avança em Mato Grosso (Sugar cane advances in Mato Grosso), 24/03/2008 – 19:20.
43 Correio do Estado, Cana espalha-se por mais 51 mil hectares em MS (Cane spreads by 51 thousand hectares in MS), 31/08/07.
44 Correo do Estado, Cana inflaciona preço de terras no Mato Grosso do Sul (Cane inflates land prices in Mato Grosso do Sul), 04/06/07.
45 Diário do MS, 23/08/08.



tons. With this increase, the state becomes the second biggest producer of the country,
with a planted area of 467 thousand hectares. The production of ethanol in Minas
Gerais should be around 2.2 billion liters this year. According to the Union for the
Sugar and Ethanol Industry, there are 36 plants functioning in the state. By 2012, the
prediction is that there will be 52 plants with a production of 5.5 billion liters of ethanol.46
The Secretary of Agriculture and Environment of the municipality of Luz, Dario Paulineli,
describes the other impacts on the region: “Sugarcane has expanded rapidly in the last
few years. Companies make contracts with farmers to rent their land, and the
environmental impact is enormous. They apply toxins from planes which affects the
populations of the cities. They destroy protected species of trees, plant sugarcane next
to natural springs which feed the rivers, and they do not respect environmental impact
studies. Many animals are dying with the devastation of the vegetation.”
Pará: According to the Luiz de Queiroz Higher School of Agriculture (Esalq) of
the University of São Paulo, Pará may dedicate 9 million hectares to the production of
sugarcane, which would mean an increase of 136% in the production of ethanol in
Brazil. CONAB estimates that Pará will harvest nearly 736,000 tons of sugarcane in the
2007/2008 harvest. The biggest part of the production (648.3 thousand tons) will be
used for the production of ethanol, and only 36.8 thousand for the production of
sugar. The Pagrisa plant, located in the municipality of Ulianópolis, has the biggest
plantation in the state, with 11.6 thousand hectares, and produces 50 million liters of
ethanol per year.47 According to a communication from the Ministry of Foreign Relations,
“It is with good reason that the era of biofuels has arrived full-force in Legal Amazonia.
We have no doubts that Pará will have Brazil’s most competitive platform for the
exportation of ethanol, providing for huge profits for the investors.”48
Rondônia: There are two projects for ethanol distilleries in the municipalities of
Cerejeiras and Santa Luzia d’Oeste. There is another plant in the municipality of Sâo
Felipe, 530 kilometers from Porto Velho. According to Cléber Calixto, the mayor of
Cerejeiras, “the city has extremely fertile land and will have an ethanol factory by April
of 2009.”49
Roraima: There are two plant projects underway, with a prediction of cultivating
sugarcane in an area of 90 square kilometers by 2009, with the first harvest being 3
million tons.50 The governor of Roraima is giving incentives to this sector by offering
46 Agência Safras, Minas Gerais colhe safra recorde em 2008 (Minas Gerais reaps record harvest in 2008), 11/09/08 16:10, http://
48 Ministério das Relações Exteriores: Seleção Diária de Notícias Nacionais (Foreign Relations Ministry: Daily Selection of National
49 Correio Braziliense, Governo estuda limite para plantio da cana (Government studies limit for cane planting), 27/8/07.
50 Folha de São Paulo, 1/6/08.



exemption from the Tax on Circulation of Merchandise (ICMS) until 2018.51 The
Ministry of Industry and Commercial Development indicates that the eastern part of
Roraima would be one of the principal areas for the expansion of sugarcane plantations.52
Local politicians are pressuring the federal government to transfer public lands to come
under the authority of the state. Congressman Francisco Rodrigues (DEM) said, “We
are demanding from the Federal Government nearly 5 million hectares to implement
development in Roraima.”53 The Biocapital company began to plant seedlings and
hopes to produce 6 million tons of sugarcane by 2014, which would serve as a base to
process 530,000 liters of ethanol. The Camaçari Agroindustrial Company cultivated
200 hectares of seedlings on the São Sebastião farm, and plans to expand its production
of seedlings by 1,000 hectares by August of 2009. The company was able to obtain
100% tax exemption, and anticipates producing 3 million tons of sugarcane by 2009.54
Tocantins: The Secretary of Agriculture, Cattle-raising and Provisions (Seagro) affirms
that there are plans for 16 new plants to be installed in the state. According to the
governor of Tocantins, the state would be able to use 650,000 hectares for the cultivation
of sugarcane. The Bioenergética Brasileira Company has cleared an area for seedlings
occupying 150 hectares, which will supply seedlings for a 10-year production. For the
2008 harvest, the area of cultivation reached 2.4 thousand hectares and the company
plans to occupy 5,000 planted hectares. The prediction is to produce 2 million tons of
sugarcane by 2014. Grupo Cucaú acquired an area of 1,300 hectares when it began
production in 2006, with a harvest of 250,000 tons, and hopes to expand this to 500,000
tons.55 Maity Bionergia is planning the construction of three ethanol distilleries, each
with a process capacity of 2.4 million tons of sugarcane.56 According to CONAB,
there was an increase of almost 16% in the production of sugarcane in Tocantins,
between 2007 and 2008. The harvest increased from 252,100 tons to 291,100 tons in
the state.57 In the harvest between 2006 and 2007, the biggest regional expansion was in
Tocantins, where there was a 68.9% increase.58
51 Radiobrás, Roraima pode virar nova fronteira agrícola da cana-de-açúcar (Roraima may become new sugar cane frontier), 11/
09/2007 – 02h48min.
52 Ministério do Desenvolvimento (Ministry of Development), Governo incentiva plantio de cana na Amazonia (Government offers
incentives for cane planting in Amazonia), 28/09/07.Exterior
54 Jornal Folha de Boa Vista, 65% do lavrado roraimense têm potencial para a cana-de-açúca, (65% of Roraimense land has
potential for sugar cane), 28/01/08
55 Government of Tocantins: Usina de cana-de-açúcar fará primeira colheita em maio (Sugar cane factory will make its first harvest
in May) 10/4/06, article by Kelly Costa
56 Grupo sucroalcooleiro pode instalar destilaria no Tocantins (Sugar-Alcohol Group may set up distillery in Tocantins), 28/06/
58 SECOM TO, Tocantins comprova vocação para a produção de cana-de-açúcar (Tocantins shows a vocation for sugar cane
production), 13/7/06.



The False Concept of “Degraded” Lands
According to the government, the expansion of sugarcane plantations happens
on land that is “degraded,” and there are no impacts on the environment or on food
production. The data given to justify this theory tries to support the idea that in Brazil
there are millions of hectares of land that are simply “abandoned” or “marginal.”
However, the government has yet to explain what exactly it means by “degraded
land”. If there really is such a thing, it would not make sense for companies and
public banks to heavily invest in a sector in which there is no possibility to plant on
level ground, of good quality land, with access to water and infrastructure.
Even when sugarcane production replaces other agricultural activities, or even
cattle-raising, there is a much greater degree of devastation because large-scale
sugarcane plantations do not thrive with other types of vegetation. If there really
were so much land available in Brazil, there would not be the necessity for the size
of the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. Therefore, there is no logical reason
to say that the expansion of sugarcane production does not exert additional pressure
on preservation areas.
Official data indicates that there has been a great increase in cattle-raising in the
Amazon, pushing for the expansion of the agricultural borders. According to IBGE,
cattle-raising in the Amazon has practically doubled in the last ten years. The 2006
Farming Census showed that since 1996 the increase in agricultural expansion in the
Northern Region was 275.5%. Between 1990 and 2006, there was an annual increase
in soybean plantations of 18%, and an 11% increase in cattle-raising in the Amazon.59
Between 2006 and 2007, the soy harvest in the Northern Region had a 20% increase.60
The strong pressures to push forward agricultural borders have created doubts
about the ability to monitor the zoning laws for sugarcane production and the
implementation of efficient punishment mechanisms in cases where the laws are broken.
Sérgio Leitão, coordinator of Greenpeace in Brazil, explains that only 2% of those
convicted of illegal cutting in the Amazon receive fines.61
Professor Antônio Thomaz Júnior of the Geography Department from the State
University of São Paulo (Unesp) states that “No one has technical authority to say that
there will not be impacts. Up until now, not one thorough study has been done
concerning the consequences of expanding sugarcane plantations.”62
59 Adital – 15/02/08, Amazônia devastada (Amazonia Devastated), article by Frei Betto.
60 Radioagencia Notícias do Planalto, 5/5/08.
61 Agência Brasil, Cana e rebanho bovino impulsionam desmatamento na Amazônia (Cane and cattle push deforestation in
62 Cana pode prejudicar meio ambiente e produção de alimentos (Cane may harm the environment and food supply), 03/04/2007.



Congresswoman Rose de Freitas (PMDB-ES) is proposing a bill (number 2323/
07) which plans to end financing and tax incentives for the production of ethanol in the
Amazon, including the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima
and part of Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Maranhão. According to her, “The cultivation
of sugarcane is extremely harmful because of the deforestation it can promote, and
also through the practice of monocropping which, even in degraded areas, results in
serious environmental damage.” For her, the zoning project proposed by the government,
“not only will permit but also give incentives for planting sugarcane.”63

Health Risks for Workers and the Local Population
There is also a series of studies concerning the increase of environmental pollution
in regions where there is the burning of sugarcane. One technical opinion from the
Public Ministry of Labor of Mato Grosso do Sul, published on May 6, 2008, (REF:OF/
PRT24ª/GAB-HISN/Nº134/2008) concluded that the burning of sugarcane “results
in the formation of potentially toxic substances, like carbon dioxide, ammonia, and
methane, among others, with the fine material, containing particles smaller or equal to 10
micrometers (PM10) (particles that are able to be inhaled), being the pollutant that has
the greatest toxicity and has been the most studied. The majority of it (94%) is made up
of fine and ultrafine particles, that is, particles that affect the deepest portions of the
respiratory system, crossing the epithelial barrier, reaching the pulmonary interstitium,
and are responsible for the triggering of serious illnesses.”
The document sites diverse scientific studies, like those from Dr. Marcos Abdo Arbex,
which “revealed that atmospheric pollution generated from burning sugarcane created a
significant increase in hospital treatments for asthma.” Also other heart, artery and
cerebrovascular illnesses were cited, both acute cases (increase in hospital stays and deaths
due to arrhythmia, cerebral and myocardial ischaemia illness), and chronic cases due to
long-term exposure (increase of mortality due to cerebrovascular and cardiac illness).”
In relation to social problems, the report highlights “the disregarding of worker
legislation, and the intoxications of the workers through chemical products; workers’
deaths through the inhalation of carcinogenic gases; the indices of respiratory problems,
as the burning releases carbon gas, ozone, nitrogen, and sulfur (responsible for acid
rain); and also undesirable soot released from burning dried sugarcane leafs (which
contains carcinogenic substances).” The study concludes that “the data above shows
evidence that exposing sugarcane cutters to particulate material generated from the process
of burning sugarcane constituted an important risk factor to be considered in the analysis
63 Tribuna do Juruá, Projeto proibe incentivo à cana-de-açúcar na Amazonia (Plan prohibits incentives for sugar cane in
Amazonia), 29/7/2008



and association of the possible causes of sudden death of some of these workers.”
And it adds, “The work conditions expose sugarcane cutters to pollutants that increase
the potential risk of illnesses, principally, respiratory problems and lung cancer.”64

A change in the energy source that may really look to preserve life of the planet
would have to mean also a profound transformation in the current standards of
consumption, in the concept of “development,” and in the very organization of our
societies. To discuss new sources of energy, in the first place, is to think about whom
these new energy sources will serve.
The agricultural model should be based on ecological systems and on diversification
of production. It is urgent to rescue and increase the experiences of small, traditional
farmers, beginning from respecting the diversity of the ecosystems. These are not
simple solutions. Neither is it sufficient to only have changes in individual habits of
consumers, like to buy another type of car, to change light bulbs, etc. The greatest
responsibility for global warming lies exactly with large corporations that destroy the
forests and pollute the environment—the same oil, automotive and agricultural companies,
among others, who plan to profit from agroenergy. It is necessary to guarantee subsidy
policies for the production of food that comes from small farms, and to strengthen
rural social organizations that uphold a new model based on diversified production, in
order to achieve food sovereignty.

64 Ministério Público do Trabalho, Parecer técnico, Ref.:OF/PRT24a/GAB-HISN/No. 134/2008. Authors: Sônia Corina Hess,
Professor at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, and Heiler Ivens de Souza Natali, attorney in the Public Ministry of
Labor of Mato Grosso do Sul, 06/05/2008.


Between January and September of 2008, there were 179 denunciations
of agricultural companies exploiting slave labour, with 5,203 workers
involved. Of these 179 denunciations, 128 were a result of the Comissão
Pastoral da Terra (CPT) Campaign. Between 2003 and September of 2008,
during the Lula government, there were 1,446 denunciations, and of these,
821 thanks to the CPT. But of the 821 denunciations by the CPT, only 289
were investigated, meaning a drop in the average percentage of
investigated denunciations to 35%. In the same period, the number of
potentially enslaved people was 42,526 and, of these, 26,318 were freed.
The majority of the workers who were liberated, 20,386, came from CPT
denunciations. The “champion” region in slavery has been the state of
Pará. Other states that appear with regularity in last the six years are
Mato Grosso, Maranhão, Tocantins and Goiás.

Enslaved by debt: Debates on an Old Problem
Ricardo Rezende Figueira1 and Adonia Antunes Prado2
Slavery in its contemporary form is well debated, linked as it is to new forms of
agricultural exploitation, environmental destruction, migration, and trafficking in people.
It presents challenges to those who work in the legal field, those who defend human
rights and, indeed, to the wide variety of people dedicated to solving this problem.
Four decades have already passed since the then recently installed, Spanish-born
Bishop of São Felix do Araguaia (Mato Grosso), Don Pedro Casaldáliga (1970, 1972,
1977), first made his forceful denunciations of slavery in the Amazon. This problem,
Ricardo Rezende Figueira is a Professor at ESS/UFRJ, coordinator of the Contemporary Slavery Research Group (GPTEC/
NEPP-DH/UFRJ), and member of the Board of directors of the Network for Social Justice and Human rights.
Adonia Antunes Prado is a Professor at FE/UFRJ and a researcher with the GPTEC/NEPP-DH/UFRJ.



grave at the time, still persists, though not in exactly the same way. Some of the actors
have changed, the political conjuncture is different, and reactions have evolved . Slavery
became worse during the years of the military dictatorship, when it was even financed
by the State—several companies denounced for practicing slavery had received tax incentives and financial support through the Amazon Development Agency (Superintendência do Desenvolvimento da Amazônia, or SUDAM).
While the problem is not new, the mode of its denunciation and its repercussions
certainly is. In the middle of the 19th century, prior to abolition, Thomaz Davatz protested
that Swiss workers were forced to work off debts at a coffee plantation in Ibiúna, São
Paulo. Ironically, the employer was the liberal, abolitionist Senator Nicolau Vergueiro.
There were repercussions both in Europe and Brazil. Beginning in the second decade of
the following century, two extraordinary writers, Euclides de Cunha3 (1922) and, some
years later, Ferreira de Castro (1945), identified a similar problem faced by rubber workers
in the Amazon, a “prison without walls”, where workers were chained by debt. Two
years after the military coup Goianian author Bernado Elis (1987)4 wrote about an
indebted agricultural worker named Supriano who not only did not own the means of
production, but didn’t even have any tools.
Pedro Casaldáliga’s vehement denunciation of slavery is itself a reminder of the
work of the French Dominican monk José Audrin, who wrote of the treatment of
Indians in Araguaia in the postwar period. He condemned “(T)he inhuman actions in
the Amazonian forests,” in which Indians are “enslaved for many months.” The Indians
returned, Audrin continued, “overwhelmed and affected by various illnesses (...) leaving
their bones among the waterfalls (...)” (1946: p 88). Given the form of his protests and
the fact that he is a Bishop, Casaldáliga’s writing has reverberated more widely and
generated bigger reactions than has the work of Audrin. In his writing Casaldáliga
identified the reasons for slavery—the concentration of lands and the policies of the
government—as well denouncing the large economic interests that profit from slavery.
There were many problems, including the lack of a social conscience that
contemporary slavery is even in fact a crime. The spectrum of society involved in this
type of issue, among them the unions and social organizations, were not in general
opposed to this form of slavery because they did not perceive what Esterci (1994)
called the “immobilization” of the workers and Martins (1995) called the “coercion”
exerted on the worker. Moreover, since the end of the 1960s the state promoted the
increase in the number of workers who would come to be involved in these practices.
In the predominant form of land occupation, companies which were financed with

“It is man who works to become enslaved.”
On this story, see Corrêa (2008).



public money and which were free of any supervision lured tens of thousands of
people north and gave them the very temporary work of opening farms. This was a
repetition of prior state involvement in the same practices, which took place during the
Second World War under the government of Getulio Vargas. Thousands of Brazilians,
known as the “rubber soldiers”, were driven to the Amazon. There, during the rubber
harvest and under the regime of the company trading post, more Brazilians died of
illness and violence than the Brazilian soldiers who were at the same time stationed in
Italy fighting the Germans. (O Povo, 1998; Forline, 2005; Guillen, 2001; Neces, 2004).

The Response Changes: Civil Society and the State
What changed? In the 1970s, during the military dictatorship, civil society was disjointed
and gagged, and one certainly could not count on the government. With the end of the
dictatorship and the re-emergence of civil and political liberties, civil society organized
itself and the State became more sensitive to social pressures. Many heretofore uninvolved
organizations and individuals, including the National Association of Labour Judges,
labour lawyers, federal judges and attorneys general, the Brazilian section of the
International Labour Organization, and the Brazilian Bar Association -, started to prioritize
slavery and support the Pastoral Land Commission (Comissão Pastoral da Terra, or
CPT). Dozens of meetings were held in order to debate responses to the crime in
Congress, the Ministries and other places, promoted by the State, Church, working class
organizations and other bodies of civil society.
In 1995 the Mobile Verification Groups (Grupos Especiais de Fiscalização
Móvel or GEFM) were created. The GEFM were put under the supervision of
the Ministry of Labor and Employment (Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego or
MTE), rather than the Regional Labor Offices5, which were more vulnerable to
the influence of powerful local interests. The GEFM regularly investigated
properties that had been suspected of being in contravention of Article 149 of
the Brazilian Criminal Code, which makes it illegal “to reduce a person to any
condition analogous to slavery”. The National Commission for the Eradication
of Slavery (Comissão Nacional para a Erradicação do Trabalho Escravo) was
created, which then elaborated the second National Plan for the Eradication of
Slavery. As in the 1st Plan, the second National Plan carefully identified necessary
actions, responsible groups, involved partners and time periods for implementation.
Among the “actions of reintegration and prevention”, articles 32, 33, and the
On 04/01/2008, O Diário Oficial da União published a decree by virtue of which the Regional Labor Offices (Delegacias
Regionais do Trabalho or DRT’s) would thereafter be called the Regional Superintendencies of Labor and Employment (Superintendências Regionais do Trabalho e Emprego).



“specific actions of economic repression”, articles 65 and 66, are seen as responses
to “agrarian reform”.
If initially slavery was denounced and the liberation of several workers occasionally
achieved, now workers are frequently liberated in joint operations of various ministries
coordinated by the GEFM.
However, the CPT has shown that not all denounced cases are actually investigated.6
The rate of investigation of all denunciations received by the government is, on average,
62%, with last year the highest ever, at 72%.
Between January and September of 2008, there were 179 denunciations of agricultural
operations exploiting slaves, with 5,203 workers involved. Of these 179 denunciations,
128 were a result of the CPT Campaign. Between 2003 and September of 2008, during
the Lula government, there were 1,446 denunciations, 821 of these thanks to the CPT.
But of the 821 denunciations by the CPT, only 289 were investigated, meaning a drop in
the average percentage of investigated denunciations to 35%. In the same period, the
number of potentially enslaved people was 42,526 and, of these, 26,318 were freed.
The majority of the liberated, 20,386, came from CPT denunciations.
The state considered the “champion” in slavery has been Pará. Other states that
appear with regularity in last the six years are Mato Grosso, Maranhão, Tocantins and
Goiás. In 2008, by the end of September, the only region of the country without any
denunciations of slavery was the Southeast. The region with the highest percentage of
cases was the Center-West (31.6%).
Since the creation of the GEFM in 1995 and up until September of 2008, 32,405
people have been freed, according to the data of the CPT. The year with the highest
number of liberations was 2007, with 5,968 (Diagram 1). In the same period, however,
the number of people working on denounced properties was 55,830. In the eight years
of the Cardoso government, the annual average of liberated people was 760 people. In
the seven years and nine months of the Lula government, the annual average has been
4,386 people. The year with the highest number of involved workers was 2007, with
8,651 cases and 5,968 releases.
The correlation of enslaved work to specific economic sectors in 2008 is also telling:
41% of enslaved workers were in the sugar cane trade, with 27% in cattle and 14% in
the charcoal trade. In the preceding year, the breakdown was much the same: 41% in
sugar cane, 33% in cattle and 6% in coal. When we look at a longer period, between
The numerical data and percentages are taken from the document “The CPT Campaign Against Slavery—statistics, 03/10/08"
(“Campanha da CPT contra o trabalho escravo – estatísticas em 03/10/08"), presented by one of the national directors of the CPT
, José Batista Gonçalves Afonso, at the Second Scientific Study Meeting on Contemporary Slavery and Related Questions, organized
by the GPTEC between 22 and 24/10/2008 at the UFRJ.



2003 and 2008, the results are somewhat different, with 44% in cattle, 18% in sugar cane
18% and 8% in coal (Diagram 2). The cane sector has gradually supplanted the cattle
trade—the former being precisely the sector with a high concentration of wealth and
land, which is praised by the government, and which has had significant economic success
due to the production and commercialization of ethanol and sugar. Meanwhile, the
rhythm of production has intensified. If in 1970 the average amount of cane cut by
each worker per day was 3.5 tons (according to a text by Economics Professor Robert
Novaes7), by 1990 it increased to 6.10 tons. In the most recent decade it reached
between 9 and 10 tons per day.

Academic Reflection
For a long time the academic world, with a few exceptions, such as José de Souza
Martins (1994), Neide Esterci (1994) and Alfredo Wagner Almeida (1988), researched in
other areas related to slavery, generally to do with aboriginal peoples. In their rigorous
studies of the phenomenon they frequently used terms like “lodgings” (morada) with
respect to the north-east and “peonage” or “barracks” (barracão) for the Amazon. In
the 1970’s some academics, such as Otavio Ianni (1978), Fernando Henrique Cardoso
and Geraldo Muller (1977), moved beyond the term “peon” to discuss “semi-slavery.”8
Earlier than this, however, the term “slavery” had already appeared in literature, the
visual arts and music, in news articles and in the denunciations of organizations and
individuals concerned with human rights. As one can see the injustice of slavery, therefore,
can be protested with the most diverse expressions of human ingenuity.
In these respects there were significant changes within academia. Recently, the
Contemporary Slavery Research Group (Grupo de Pesquisa Trabalho Escravo Contemporâneo, or GPTEC) from the Centre for the Study of Public Policy in Human
Rights (Núcleo de Estudos de Políticas Públicas em Direitos Humanos, or NEPP-DH)
organized the Second Scientific Study Meeting on Contemporary Slavery and Related
Questions. As in the first meeting held in 2007, numerous academic research projects on
the theme of contemporary slavery or on topics related to this theme, either concluded
or in process, were presented and discussed. The work of 18 researchers was presented
at the first meeting, while at the second conference this increased to 22. The authors of
these works came from many different Brazilian states as well as from two foreign
Exhibit of photos by Flávio Conde with text by Roberto Novaes, titled: No eito da Cana: Saúde, Direito, Trabalho (Cane eito:
Health, Rights, Work) [An eito is the area worked by a given cane cutter].
Cardoso and Muller write that: “On the plantations, in the mines, and in the deforestation work to make way for farms, working
conditions prevail that are not only adverse, they are sometimes compulsory. The ‘system’ – which is as old as the initial occupation of
Amazonia – became generalized as a prerequisite for economically viable exploitation of the area” (1977:183). On the same page an
article from the press is reproduced using the term “semi-slavery” and on p. 185, the authors repeat the term.



universities: a doctoral student from the Universidad de Sevilla and a professor from
the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
An interesting survey was carried out by Emmanuel Oguri Freitas and Guilherme
Silva Ferreira on contemporary slavery using the key words slave labor, slave-like work,
degrading labor and debt slavery based on information from CAPES and the CNPq
(Diagram 3). The first research works, which were defended in specialized masters and
doctoral courses, only appeared after 1992. From this point until October of 2008 32
monographs, dissertations and theses on the subject have been defended. Even if this
number is indicative, it does not represent the total number of works. It is possible,
after all, that not all the research has been duly registered with academic institutions and
that the categories used for the survey have not been wide enough to accumulate all of
the relevant data. Of the 32 projects the majority (25) are masters theses, along with 5
doctoral theses and 2 specialized monographs. The majority of works were defended
in 2006 (Diagram 3).
The works were defended in 14 states, broken down as follows: São Paulo has the
most with 7, then Rio De Janeiro with 6, followed by Rio Grande Do Sul with 4 and
Maranhão, the Federal District, Santa Catarina and Paraná with 2 each, and, finally Minas
Gerais, Espírito Santo, Ceará, Piauí, Pará, Mato Grosso and Paraíba with one (Diagram 4).
The survey shows, given the thematic areas, that the research is distributed irregularly
with respect to academic specialization. Most is in the area of law, with 17 works
(53.1%), followed by social sciences/sociology with 4 (12.5%), and social and public
policy with 3 (9.4%). The other areas—education, agricultural development, production
engineering, geography, history, psychology, sustainable development, development,
agriculture and society—have one each (Diagram 5). The highest frequency of studies
carried out by professionals and students in law focuses on the practical results of
struggles against contemporary slave labour and on the judicial debates regarding article
149 of the Brazilian Criminal Code and related legislative changes now in process.
The production of books reflects the increase of interest in this subject. According
to the GPTEC collection, there were 34 publications between 1987 and 2008 and, of
these, 15 were collective projects that are in general the fruit of meetings promoted by
the state, the university or civil society (Diagram 6).

Final Considerations
It is important to observe the development of attempts to grapple with the problem
of slave labour in its material and intellectual expressions, as it appears in practice and as
it is considered in studies on the theme. There have been important changes in the form
and the frequency of treatments of this subject by various social citizens, in which the


role of the State and its increasing even if sometimes inefficient and inefficacious
commitment stand out. There is also much evidence that agents in civil society are
giving increasing attention to the problem, either in the form of work by organized
groups that act to prevent and combat slave labor—The Pastoral Land Commission in
some Brazilian states, the Center for the Defense of Life and the Rights of Human
Beings of Açailândia (Maranhão) and Brazil Reporter (São Paulo), for example—as
well as the notable concern of professionals and students in the academic sphere.
The isolated and courageous voices that produced the first denunciations and studies
of slave labour during the military dictatorship continue today, echoing in Brazilian
society and the State, maturing their reflections and justifying the cry for justice.

ALMEIDA, Alfredo Wagner B. de. O trabalho como instrumento de escravidão. Humanidades. Brasília, no. 17, ano V-1988.
AUDRIN, José M. Entre sertanejos e índios do Norte: o bispo Dom Domingos Carrerot. Rio
de Janeiro: Agir, 1946
CARDOSO, Fernando Henrique. MÜLLER. Geraldo. Amazônia: expansão do capitalismo.
Editora Brasiliense, 1977.
CASALDÁLIGA, Pedro. “Escravidão e Feudalismo no Norte do Mato Grosso”. (São Félix
do Araguaia:) 1970;
-------__________”Uma Igreja da Amazônia em conflito com o Latifúndio”. (São Félix do
Araguaia:) Carta Pastoral. 1972
__________”Questão Agrária, uma Questão Política”. Depoimento perante a CPI da Terra
no Congresso Nacional. 14.06.1977
CORRÊA, Ana Laura dos Reis; Costa , Deane M. F. de Castro e. “Literatura, trabalho e
reificação em A enxada, de Bernardo Elis” in
anais_v_coloquio_arquivos/arquivos/comunicacoes/gt6/sessao2/Ana_Laura.pdf (27.10.08)
CPT. Campanha da CPT contra o trabalho escravo – estatísticas de 03/10/08 (impresso).
CUNHA, Euclides. À Margem da História. 3a. ed. Lisboa: Lelo & Irmãos editores, 1922
CASTRO, Ferreira de. A Selva. 10a. ed Lisboa: Ed. Guimarães & Cia., 1945
DAVATZ, Thomaz. Memórias de um Colono no Brasil: 1850. Belo Horizonte: Itatiaia, 1980.
ÉLIS, Bernardo. “A enxada” in Veranico de Janeiro: contos. Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, p. 3761, 1987
ESTERCI, Neide. Escravos da desigualdade. Rio de Janeiro: CEDI/Koinonia, 1994.
FORLINE, Louis. As várias faces da Amazônia: migrações, deslocamentos e mobilidade
social na região Norte. Htttp://ônia/amaz8.htm, acesso
em 23/10/2005.


GUILLEN, Isabel Cristina Martins. Seca e migração no Nordeste: reflexões sobre o processo
de banalização de sua dimensão histórica. Trabalhos para discussão, no. 111/2001. Ago. 2001.
IANNI, Octávio. A luta pela terra: história social da terra e da luta pela terra numa área da
Amazônia. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1978.
MARTINS, José de Souza. A reprodução do capital na frente pioneira e o renascimento da
escravidão no Brasil. Tempo Social. São Paulo, 6(1-2):1-25; 1994.
NECES, Marcus Vinicius. A heróica e desprezada Batalha da borracha. História viva. http://
O POVO. Soldados da borracha: saga resgatada 50 anos depois. Fortaleza, 21/06/1998. Ano
LXXI, no. 24.058. p. 1.






Since the Constitutional Congress of 1988, Brazil has not suffered from
such a virulent anti-indigenous racist wave throughout the country. With
its nationalist façade, this wave managed to garner support, or at least
the complicit silence, of traditional sectors engaged in fighting in defense
of indigenous peoples. Based on a local situation, that of the private
interests of those invading State lands (such as indigenous lands), in 2008
part of Brazilian society came to look at indigenous peoples as enemies,
and at those allied with indigenous peoples as criminals. The constitutional
rights of indigenous peoples came to be seen as privileges that should be
urgently reviewed by the National Congress; the UN came to be seen as
an imperialist threat and neighboring countries as potential enemies.

Indigenous Peoples: from
Rights Won to Rights Contested1
Paulo Maldos2
“Article 231. The social organization, customs, languages, beliefs, and
traditions of Indians are recognized, and their native rights to the lands
that they traditionally occupy, it being the State’s responsibility to demarcate
and protect them, and see that all their assets are respected.
Article 232. Indians, their communities and organizations are legitimate
parties that may enter into legal proceedings in defense of their rights and
interests, with the Public Prosecutor involved in all acts of the process.”
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Brazil – 1988.
With thanks for the contributions made by colleagues in the National CIMI Secretariat, Marcy Picanço, Leda Bosi Magalhães, and
Aida Marise Cruz, whose suggestions and information made the present report possible.
Paulo Maldos is Political Advisor of the Missionary Indigenous Council (CIMI).



1. Recognition of Rights in the Federal Constitution and
Anti-Indigenous Reactions
On October 5, 2008, the Federal Constitution celebrated its 20th anniversary. The
social rights and indigenous rights recognized therein were the fruit of many years of
mobilization and fighting by social and indigenous peoples’ movements during the military
dictatorship (1964-1985), and the result of intense indigenous and popular participation
in the Constitutional Assembly (1987-1988).
The constitutional text signified a victory of democratic sectors as it contemplates a
transformational national project from the point of view of relations between the State and
Brazilian society; recognition of our cultural diversity; the sociocultural plurality of indigenous
peoples and traditional communities; affirmation of native territorial rights, among others.
After this document was enacted by the National Congress, little by little indigenous
peoples and grassroots sectors began to mobilize with a view to solidifying their
recognized rights, pressuring state powers to put such rights into practice.
Indigenous peoples began to mobilize themselves with greater force and
determination so that their lands could be demarcated and homolgated throughout the
country. In regions where public power did not hold sway, the communities retook
lands and demarcated it themselves, forced out invaders, built villages, reconstituted the
social fabric which had been violently
torn apart with their expulsion from their lands, recovered rituals, religions, and
languages, strengthened their identities and plans for the future.
In order to meet the challenges of dialogue and partnership with national society,
indigenous peoples created various tools during this period: indigenous organizations,
which arose people by people, region by region, state by state, category by category
(teachers, health agents, etc.). Such organizations were charged with carrying out the
demands of the communities with regard to demarcation of lands, health, education,
self-sufficiency, and others.
With the various indigenous organizations, the different peoples began to participate
directly in public policy-making that affected them, seeking to exercise social control over
them, suggesting practices, furnishing basic information for planning efforts and evaluations
by government entities, intermediating the latter’s contact with indigenous communities.
Over the years, indigenous organizations multiplied alongside the bases, while at the
same time indigenous peoples sought to create joint mobilizations in order to make
their constitutional rights visible and build permanent linkages at the national level.
Relatively often, indigenous mobilizations were present at the National Congress
and sought meetings with the Executive and Judicial powers, in order to put forth
demands and proposals in the name of the indigenous peoples of Brazil. Among these


we note the proposal for a new Statute on Indigenous Peoples, in keeping with the new
constitutional text. Enactment of the Statute has been held up in Congress for 16 years.

First Anti-Indigenous Reactions
The anti-indigenous sectors of Brazilian society, however, were not passive during this
period. Seeing themselves to be the losers in the Constitutional Congress, they waited
sufficiently long to react to the conquests by indigenous peoples. The moment arrived
during the time of demarcation of Yanomami Indigenous Territory, in 1992.
Linked within and without the State, mining enterprises, large landholders, lumber,
military, juridic, and conservative journalistic interests undertook a vast campaign to prevent
the indigenous land from being demarcated.
In spite of the restraints of the era, with denouncement of the massacres carried out
by garimpeiros (miners) against Yanomami communities, such sectors made accusations
against recognizing indigenous territorial rights as being “threats to national security.” Even
with all their connections, those sectors were not successful and the Yanomami people had
their territory demarcated by President Fernando Collor de Mello, in May 1992.
In various regions of Brazil invaders of indigenous lands reacted with violence to the
recognition of constitutional rights: assassinations of leaders, racist defamations through
the media, intimidating invasions of indigenous communities, aggressive statements by
military entities, linking of local power against indigenous mobilizations and organizations.
All these actions were attempts aimed at counteracting and inhibiting growing
recognition of indigenous rights by society and by the Brazilian State, starting with the new
constitutional framework. This was an attempt to build a negative image of indigenous
communities through the media and, by means of lobbying the Executive, Legislative, and
Judicial branches, turn Articles 231 and 232 of the Federal Constitution, referring to
indigenous rights, into dead letter legislation.

2. Raposa Serra do Sol: Racist Violence and History
Raposo Serra do Sol is an indigenous territory located in the State of Roraima, where
the Macuxi, Wapichana, Ingaricó, Taurepang, and Patamona peoples have lived for more
than three thousand years.
These peoples suffered all the violence of the colonizing process and, later, in the 20th
century, were the victims of predatory actions by adventurers who came to the Amazon region
in search of gold, diamonds, and easy profit from limitless exploitation of native labor.
Large landholders spread out cattle on indigenous land, marked the Indians themselves
with brands and thus “took possession” of the land; garimpeiros (miners) enslaved
Indians; everyone distributed alcohol as a strategy for social breakdown and ethnic,


social, and economic domination. The indigenous people who submitted were considered
to be “caboclos” and “acculturated.”
Anyone who tried to defend the communities against such violence was threatened
with death, segregated, persecuted. This happened with the Capuchin monks whose
Order denounced, at the beginning of the 20th century, the enslaving practices of the
Roraima landholders.
During the 1970s, under the military dictatorship, however, as occurred in other
parts of Brazil, the religious and pastoral community of the Catholic Church maintained
solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Raposa Serra doSol and began to fight, together
with them, to strengthen the communities, combat alcoholism, throw out the invaders,
build proper public policies on health, education, and economic self-sufficiency.
Other support, both national and international, was added to that of the Catholic
Church, throughout the last 34 years, transforming the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous
Land into a worldwide-known symbol of indigenous struggles in Brazil. Politically and
economically strengthened in their communities and local organizations, the indigenous
peoples began to exercise increasing control over their territory, participating in public
policy making and reformulating same to better serve the communities.
During the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, at the end of 2002, Raposa
Serra do Sol was finally demarcated, after much going back and forth, and after many
attempts to reduce the territory and efforts to demarcate the territory in “islands.” At the
beginning of the Lula administration the demarcation began again to be analyzed,
submitted to political negotiation, criticized by military sectors, and, once again, almost
revised. The indigenous land came close to being broken up, due to the strong pressure
exerted by the invaders and their allies.
Finally, in 2005, Raposa Serra do Sol was homolgated and recorded by the Luiz
Inácio Lula da Silva government, an historic fact considered to be a victory for all the
indigenous peoples of Brazil. It entailed granting a legal term of one year for withdrawal
of the last invaders. The National Colonization and Agrarian Reform Institute (INCRA)
drew up a plan for resettlement of those invaders, guaranteeing them land in the State
of Roraima and indemnification for improvements.
That’s where the coordinated actions of large landholders and their allies began,
aimed at de facto disempowerment of demarcation of the indigenous land.
Thi hostile attitude on the part of rice growers and the military quickly gave rise to
violent actions, beginning, as early as 2005, with the destruction of a Indigenous
Educational Center in the region. More than 150 men, hooded and heavily armed,
attacked a school at dawn, shooting at teachers and students, setting on fire a church, a
small hospital, cars, student facilities and housing, sheds, computers, completely destroying


the Indigenous Center. During the same period, religious were held hostage and threatened
with death.
With the end of the most violent manifestations, the federal government again
attempted to remove the invaders. After several attempts, aborted due to the immediate
leak of information to the invaders, in 2008 the federal government planned Operation
Upatakon 3, using only Federal Police and in a secretive manner, with the purpose of
definitively removing the invaders from Raposa Serra do Sol.

Anti-Indigenous Violence on the Part of Invaders: Local
and National
The great majority of the invaders of indigenous land have been indemnified and
transferred to another region of Roraima. There is left on the land a group of 5 large
rice planter invaders and some medium-sized holdings associated with them.
This small group, supported by state politicians and military and by local and national
communication media, has put into action a chain of hostile actions toward the Federal
Police and the indigenous communities: they burned bridges, attacked communities,
assaulted leaders, threw incendiary bombs at huts and at federal agents, mined roads,
attempted to explode a car bomb in front of Federal Police headquarters, etc.
Through the national media the old “analyses” have been trotted out again, such as
the indigenous peoples being a threat to national sovereignty, a dead weight against
development, enervating to the state, causing delay and unemployment, attempting to
create another nation with the help of the UN, etc. They attack international treaties to
which Brazil is a signatory, such as Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization
and the UN’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The military, including generals, began to act as the spokesperson for the invaders,
making their viewpoints heard by means of aggressive manifestations on the part of the
active and reserve sectors, against the Lula government itself. Their discourses came close
to a proposal for a coup d’etat, keeping in mind the fact that they considered the federal
government to be a gang, they proposed creation of a “monolithic power nucleus,” in
“defense of sovereignty” and convoked “concrete action” rather than by legal means.
Television networks, led by Rede Globo, publicized the “producers’ acts of resistance”
and put forth “analyses of the situation at Raposa Serra do Sol, with their “analyst,” with
rights to being interviewed live on the national networks, being the main leader of the rice
farmers, who was responsible for the most violent actions of the invaders.
By means of the national media, anti-indigenous prejudice was being spread
throughout the country, through the immense capillary of communication media in
national territory. Any claim, covering health or education, by any indigenous community


ended up on the front pages of the newspapers, and was treated as a crime. In various
regions of the country, indigenous communities came to be seen as suspect and threatening
to public security; throughout the frontier region Indians came to be seen as dangerous
elements of foreign infiltration, probably creators of separatist states.
By means of the internet, blogs, and websites, lies began to surface with respect
to indigenous peoples and their rights; deliberately constructed and false
“depositions,” by supposed “travelers in Roraima,” spread lies about the state and
indigenous peoples. More recently, elaborate messages, with a lot of images and
supposedly scientific data on the mineral question in Roraima, have been distributed
via computer networks, with flagrantly racist affirmations.
Based on a local situation, that of the private interests of those invading State
lands (such as indigenous lands), part of Brazilian society, in 2008, came to look at
indigenous peoples as enemies and at those allied with indigenous peoples as criminals.
The constitutional rights of indigenous peoples came to be seen as privileges that
should be urgently reviewed by the National Congress; the UN came to be seen as
an imperialist threat and neighboring countries as potential enemies.
Since the Constitutional Congress of 1988, Brazil has not suffered from such a
virulent anti-indigenous racist wave throughout the country. With its nationalist façade,
such a wave managed to garner support, or at least the complicit silence of traditional
sectors engaged in fighting in defense of indigenous peoples.
Overwhelmed by the view, imposed by the invaders and their allies, that the
situation in Raposa Serra do Sul would result in large-scale social upheaval and
insecurity along the frontier, the judicial action that questioned the demarcation of
Raposa Serra do Sol was put before the Federal Supreme Court (STF). The STF
should decide this year about the constitutionality of the demarcation and

3. The Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe and Guarani-Kaiowá Cases
The Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people of the State of Bahia, had their lands demarcated
by the old Indian Protection Service (SPI) in 1936. In the following decades their
territory was successively invaded by cacao and other agricultural interests, with the
collusion of civil servants. Starting in the 1970s, State governors handed out title to
the invaders for properties that impacted on indigenous land.
Attempts by the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe to recover or to remain on their lands were
always violently suppressed by the Military Police and by the militias of the large
landholding interests. At the beginning of the 1980s, the indigenous people organized
and retook part of the land. In 1982, the National Indian Foundation (Funai) brought


before the Federal Courts a request to nullify the titles given to indigenous land. That
same year, the case came before the Federal Supreme Court.
Since then, the people have fought to recover all their land. In this period, more
than 20 leaders were assassinated, and the crimes remain unpunished. Galdino dos Santos, the indigenous person burned in Brasília in 1997, was in the city to make claims
regarding the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe lands.
The suit made by Funai, after 26 years, began to be judged and discussed, focuses on
the legality or otherwise of the titles given to invaders, was analyzed by the Federal Supreme
Court Plenary in September of this year, shortly after beginning judgment on the Raposa
Serra do Sol case, in the same Federal Supreme Court. As happened with the latter, discussion
was suspended due to a visa application by Minister Carlos Menezes Direito.
The Guarani Kaiowá people, in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, lived in a
territory of about four million hectares up to the middle of the 20th century. With the
arrival of ranches, principally cattle ranches, the communities began to be divided,
separated, isolated, and the Guarani territory was broken into islands. The demarcations
made, in general, transformed the communities into small overpopulated ghettos,
and included a mixture of ethnicities. In recent years, the overpowering entry of agribusiness has aggravated the situation even more. The results can be seen in the annual
reports of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights: alarming indices of
suicide, assassinations, death threats, alcoholism, shootings and rapes in the interior
and against the indigenous communities.
In 2007, after years of claims made by the Guarani, Funai signed a Pact for Adjustment
of Conduct (TAC) with the Federal Public Prosecutor (MPF/MS), which promises that
by 2010 it will deal with part of the demand for demarcation of land by the 40,000
Guarani in Mato Grosso do Sul. In July 2008, Funai published decrees setting up
technicianal groups to carry out anthropological and land studies to identify the tekoha
(traditional lands) which should be demarcated.
Even at the beginning of the work, the ranchers, with the support of the State’s
politicians, including the Governor, began an intense campaign in the local and national
press, putting forth false information about the studies, claiming, for example, that a
third of the state would be transformed into indigenous land. The objective of the
campaign was to convince the people of the state and the nation to oppose realization
of the Guarani-Kaiowá’s constitutional right to their lands.
In both the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe case and the Guarani-Kaiowá case, in 2008 local
racism connected with nationally constructed racism, giving rise to a grave situation of
stigmatization of indigenous peoples by national society. In the case of the Guarani
Kaiowá, the invaders constructed a discourse identical to that of the invaders of Raposa


Serra do Sol, accusing the indigenous people of “threatening national sovereignty,”
“impeding development,” “nullifying the State,” “invading municipalities” and so forth.
In both cases, the invaders of indigenous lands and their allies seek, this year, to
influence the Federal Supreme Court so that the decisions made thereby relating to
Raposa Serra do Sol and to the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe contain a restrictive interpretation
of the constitutional concept of “lands traditionally occupied” by indigenous peoples
and that this restrictive interpretation can serve as a parameter for future demarcations,
thus releasing the indigenous lands to the market.

4. Data on Anti-Indigenous Violence in 2008
Data concerning violence against indigenous peoples in Brazil in 2008 reveal the
same pattern observed in previous years, where there was a large concentration of cases
and victims in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul and, specifically among the Guarani
Kaiowá people.
In the entire country, as of October of this year, 27 cases of indigenous suicide
were recorded, all among the Guarani Kaiowá people of Mato Grosso do Sul. Of
these, a third of the victims were under 18 years of age, with 2 victims being barely 13.
As in prior years, the acts of suicide occurred under apparently commonplace
circumstances. This year, for example, a 14 year old asked his father for money to buy
school supplies; when he discovered his father did not have money to give him, he
committed suicide. The father, seeing his son dead, killed himself as well.
In the entire country, 43 murders of indigenous people were recorded, 32 of these
in Mato Grosso do Sul. Also, 28 attempted murders were record, 18 of which were in
Mato Grosso do Sul. In other words, between murders and attempted murders, there
were 71 incidents, 50 of which being in Mato Grosso do Sul. From the high rate of
occurrence of murders and attempted murders involving members of the Guarani
Kaiowá communities of Mato Grosso do Sul, it is clear that social and individual
breakdown, due to evident lack of land to live, continues to profoundly affect that
indigenous people.
In the entire country, we had 19 cases denounced and published by the press regarding
ownership invasions, illegal exploitation of natural resources, environmental damage,
biological damage, and various other damages to the patrimony of the indigenous
communities. Such acts are committed by lumber workers, garimpeiros (miners), and
other invaders who, not uncommonly, also commit acts of physical aggression against
the communities.
This general picture, in spite of being succinct, reveals the need for special attention
on the part of the State to the situation of Guarani Kaiowá indigenous lands in Mato


Grosso do Sul. It also shows the need to implement the creation of the National
Indigenous Policy Council as a public space, with indigenous, indigenist, and government
participation, to draw up articulate, and implement indigenous policy in Brazil.

5. The Federal Constitution’s 20 Years
The Federal Constitution of 1988 recognized the Indians “social organization,
customs, languages, beliefs, and traditions, and rights to the lands they traditionally occupy.”
Such recognition signified a more elevated base for indigenous struggles in our country,
marking the end of the integrationist perspective of the Brazilian State and the beginning
of a new historical period, in which indigenous peoples would be considered protagonists
with assured territorial rights and fundamental subjects for the drawing up of all public
policies concerning them.
Based on this new standard, indigenous peoples sought to recover their invaded
territories, fought for demarcation, homologation, and recording of these State lands
intended for their exclusive enjoyment and that had been constituting institutional spaces,
where the communities and leaders could realize theoretical and practical advances in
areas such as health, education, and economic self-sufficiency.
The frame of reference of the 1988 Constitution, which created the bases for a more
democratic and culturally pluralistic country, joined with the political will and practical
action of the indigenous peoples, engaged in transforming this new country into reality,
created a social dynamic that was intolerable for the defenders of the established order.
The invaders of indigenous lands, under the direction of agri-business enterprises,
tied to the military, authoritarian, and extreme-right sectors, and with the strategic support
of large scale means of communication, both concentrated and prejudiced, set in motion
a process restoring intolerance and racism on a large scale, such as has hardly ever been
seen in Brazil.
Under the pretense of “the defense of national territory and development,” what it
really intended was that no land would be outside the market. If today it’s the Raposa
Serra do Sol, the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe, and Guarani Kaiowá lands, tomorrow it will be
those of the quilombolas, traditional communities, coconut harvesters, river dwellers,
mining reserves, environmental preserves, biological preserves, and so forth.
What is in play are differing visions of the country and different paradigms for
development. On the one hand, there are visions that seek to make the Federal
Constitution real, building in practice a country that is democratic, economically egalitarian,
and culturally pluralistic, where land is seen as a collective patrimony and one that should
be respected. On the other hand, there are visions that seek to return to our colonial
past, one that is politically autocratic, culturally hierarchical, economically exclusionary,


and concentrates wealth and land; a view with only a single private means of production.

6. Conclusion
We are coming to the end of the first decade of the 21st century. At this juncture,
both in Brazil and throughout Latin America, indigenous peoples, traditional communities,
and grassroots sectors are giving signs of their desire to exercise the protagonist’s role in
all political spheres. However, this same juncture is seeing the devastating actions of agribusiness associated with financial capital on a global scale. For financial capital, laws exist
to be taken apart, public institutions exist to be molded to their interests, and the authorities
exist to be biddable to their plans.
In several Latin American countries, indigenous peoples have become stronger in
their struggle for a more egalitarian, democratic, and culturally pluralistic society. In these
countries, the old oligarchies seek by any means possible to halt and annul such
democratizing processes. In Brazil, indigenous peoples show the same desire to build an
egalitarian and culturally pluralistic country.


The New Normative Rule (IN) 49/2008 was published, but quilombolas
did not have sufficient time to formulate their questions: there was a lack
of agreement or consent with regard to alteration of the majority of the
points discussed and backsliding with regard to the concept of territory,
self-identification, and curtailment of INCRA’s jurisdiction as provided
for in Dec. 4,887/2003.

Building Consensus and Consultation
with Quilombola Peoples in Brazil,
International Labor Organization Convention 169
Cíntia Beatriz Müller1
In October 2008 I am revisiting this article written at the beginning of July 2008.2
The Normative Rule which was the purpose of the “consultation” has already been
published as Number 49, having been sent off by the National Institute for Colonization
and Agrarian Reform (INCRA). Thus, the text will present ILO Convention 169 and
what that document proposes regarding realization of consultations; the manner in
which quilombola communities, through the National Coordination of Black Quilombola
Communities (CONAQ) proposed the April 2008 consultation; how, in fact, it came to
be, once I had the opportunity to follow the entire procedure in Luziânia/GO, together
with other consultants3; and on the scenario for the announcement of IN 49/2008.
Cíntia Beatriz Müller, attorney and anthropologist, is currently Professor of Anthropology and Political Sociology at the Federal
University of Grande Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul. She is Coordinator of the Working Group of Citizenship and Ethnic
Territorialization together with Ricardo Cid Fernandes, a Federal University of Curitiba professor.
Published in
The consultants following the consultation were: Lúcia Andrade (Commission for the Indian of São Paulo); Rosa Peralta
(Koinonia); Letícia Osório (Centre on House Rights and Evictions); Cíntia Beatriz Müller (researcher from the Anthropology and
Citizenship Nucleus/UFRGS); Roberto Rainha (Network for Social Justice and Human Rights); Fernando Priote (Terra de
Direitos); Gustavo Magnata (Dignitatis); Onir Araújo (United Negro Movement of Rio Grande Do Sul); Gilsely Barreto; Aniceto
Castanhede (Maranhão Center for Black Culture); Rosane Muniz (Board of Directors/UFES); and André Araripe (Luís Freire
Cultural Center of Pernambuco). Jerônimo Treccani and Luciana Garcia (Global Justice), although invited, could not attend.



1. ILO Convention 169 and Consensus
International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169 was approved by the
Brazilian National Congress by means of Legislative Decree No. 143 of June 20, 2002.
The Brazilian government’s ratifying instrument was deposited, or delivered, to the ILO
Executive Director on July 25, 2002, with effect in the international domain, as pertains
to Brazil, as of July 25, 2003. Effectively, ILO Convention 169 entered into international
effect on September 5, 1991, that is, it acquired the status of an international document
in the 1990s, having been promulgated on June 27, 1989. However, for the document
to have internal effect within the various countries, for some more conservative jurists,
the Convention would have to be ratified and formally go through a process of
internalization, which, in formal terms within Brazil, meant by means of promulgation
of the text of ILO Convention 169 by means of a Presidential Decree.
ILO Convention 169 was promulgated on April 19, 2004. In accordance with
Article 1 of the presidential decree that internalized the text of the Convention vis-à-vis
the national juridic sphere, the same must be “executed and complied with” as provided
for in the copy attached to Presidential Decree 5,051/2004. We must consider, however,
that ILO Convention 169 deals with fundamental human rights, as it carries in its text
guarantees and obligations with regard to rights such as self-identification, specific
conditions for appropriation of natural resources that respect the peculiarities of traditional
peoples, and various other human rights. The rights protected by ILO Convention 169
are essential to the respect for the life and human dignity of traditional peoples. With a
view to these specifications, we agree with Flávia Piovesan4 who affirms that international
documents dealing with human rights take immediate effect within the realm of internal
law as of their ratification by the country, which in Brazil’s case was 2002.5
Some considerations contained in ILO Convention 169 pervade the entire document,
such as the right to self-identification, protection and respect for the culture and identity
of the peoples, self-government, and consultation. The right to self-identification is
defined in Article 1.2 which assures the people that their consciousness of their identity
is a basic criterion that defines their same. The right to have their identities and cultures
protected and respected is assured to the peoples under the Convention, in situations
pertaining both to working conditions and to living conditions (Art. 5 a, b, c). The right
Pioivesan, Flávia. Direitos Humanos e direito constitucional internacional (Human Rights and International Constitutional
Law), 7th ed. Revised and expanded. São Paulo:Saraiva, 2006.
Müler, Cíntia Beatriz. A Convenção 169 da Organização Internatcional do Trabalho e a garantia dos povos quilombolas ao
Direito Humano Fundamental ao território: o caso das comunidades dos quilombos no Brasil (ILO Convention 169 and the
guaranteeing to quilombola peoples of the basic human right to territory: the case of quilombo communities in Brazil).
Human Rights Monograph. Advisor: Dr. Marcelo Veiga Beckhausen. Higher Institute of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and the
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. Fls. 102.



to self-government is assured in Article 7 (1) of ILO Convention 169 with the following
text, which is worth being set forth here: “Interested peoples shall have the right to
choose their own priorities with respect to the development process, to the extant that
such affects their lives, beliefs, institutions, and spiritual well-being, as well as the lands
they occupy or use in any way, and to control, insofar as possible, their own economic,
social, and cultural development. In addition, these peoples shall participate in the
formulation, application, and evaluation of national and regional development plans
and programs that may affect them directly.”
Interconnected with the right to self-government is the right to consultation. I would
like to stress that the entire first part of ILO Convention 169, from Article 1 through
Article 12, offer general parameters for its application. Thus the document composes a
true Code of Ethnic Rights which obliges those implementing the Convention to respect
it systematically and not to only implement isolated provisions as if they were autonomous.
With respect to the right of consultation, ILO Convention 169 defines quite specific
parameters for its realization: 1. the consultation instrument must be appropriate; 2. may
be realized by means of representative institutions (which does not imply the existence
of a single representational entity); 3. may be realized whenever administrative or legislative
changes affect the peoples under the Convention (art. 6, 1, a); 4. shall be applied in good
faith and in an appropriate manner appropriate to the circumstances; 5. have the purpose
of reaching an agreement and acquiring consent (Art. 6, 2); 6. on adopting special measures
for protection and safekeeping of persons, institutions, assets, cultures, and the environment
of the peoples under the Convention, the same shall not be contrary to the freely expressed
desires of the peoples (Art. 4, a and 2); 7. in addition, the instruments anticipated in the
Convention may not be used to prejudice the rights and advantages therein guaranteed
to the peoples, by virtue of: conventions and recommendations, international instruments,
treaties, laws, awards, customs, or national accords (Art. 35). (Attachment I).
Thus, there is a series of requirements and parameters necessary for the implementation
of a consultation, as found throughout the text of ILO Convention 169 and which
must be observed so that in fact there is consultation with the traditional peoples in
accordance with the Convention. In short, I would like to point out that to realize an
efficient consultation in a country with the regional diversity, population, and specifics
regarding understanding the purpose of the consultation, such as Brazil, requires a largescale effort and a methodology which has been thought through and discussed between
the population to be consulted, civil society, and federal government entities. The
consultation, as assured under ILO Convention 169, must be in good faith. This covers
an objective and subjective scope; i.e. the peoples consulted should not be offered only
the material resources for realizing [such consultation], but also the resources that will


furnish them with an understanding of the subject of the consultation, its technical
terms, and its objectives. Thusly, the actors involved in the process should collaborate
with a view to the proper functioning of the procedure and the comprehension of the
object of same.
I should likewise like to stress that Article 35 of ILO Convention 169 is sufficiently
objective to impose and not hold up the rights assured to tribal and indigenous peoples.
Such rights, as established by the text of the Convention, can ensue from instruments
concerning international law (conventions and treaties), national law (rules in the widest
sense), as well as agreements, the customs of the peoples, and reports, that is, studies
specifically related to the peoples under the Convention. This points out that, upon
being consulted about a determined legislative or administrative modification, for example,
the base text of the rule to be modified cannot be changed to the detriment of the
rights assured to the peoples. Thus, if the consultation does not produce an agreement
or consent, the previous unmodified text will prevail. The discussions pertaining to the
consultation require, therefore, a careful clarification by the parties interested in altering
normative texts which is usually the government (this does not, however, mean that the
peoples themselves cannot suggest normative alterations in the administrative and legislative
domain), giving the foundation for the relevancy of the proposed changes for the building
of agreement and consensus. Should there not be due clarification of the relevancy and
tenor of the change in provisions to be targeted under the consultation, such consultation
runs the risk of falling into a vacuum, without the comprehension of the peoples, as
does also any sort of consent about the changes, including compliance with the
requirements under the Convention, among them good-faith.

2. The proposal for Consultation Sent by the National
Coordination of Black Rural Quilombolas (CONAQ) to the
Brazilian Government
In February 2008 the National Coordination of Black Rural Quilombolas (CONAQ)
sent a “pre-proposal by the quilombola movement for the purpose of consulting
regarding the changes in IN 20.”6 The text of the proposal begins with some important
considerations, among them the claim for recognition, by the state, of the quilombola
group as “individuals with rights and citizens belonging to a society;” the demand that
the Brazilian state actually implement the set of standards that it specifically drew up for
the quilombola people with regard to the guaranteeing of their ethnic rights;
Text of the proposal sent by Ronald Santos, Executive Coordinator of CONAQ and quilombola leader in the State of Rio de
Janeiro, by means of the Marambaia Livre Campaign on 19 Feb 2008 in an email entitled “CONAQ/AGU – Consultation)



comprehension on the part of Brazilian society of the nature of the quilombola group’s
distinct territoriality; the demand that the Brazilian development model be revised in
appreciation of the cultural diversity of the various peoples, environmental preservation,
and maintaining people in their ancestral spaces (Attachment II).
In accordance with information passed on by CONAQ in its proposal, the
constitution of a Working Group (GT), composed of representatives of the federal
government, to draft changes to Normative Rule 20 was announced by the General
Advocacy Office of the Union (AGU) in September 2007. In December 2007 the
quilombolas stopped participating in an attempt at a consultation made by the federal
government about the alterations of INCRA’s In 20, because they understood that such
would be injurious to ILO Convention 169. In a meeting with AGU an agreement was
reached by which CONAQ would present a proposal for a consultation regarding IN
20. In this proposal CONAQ proposed the following steps:
1. Setting up a Working Group involving members of the government and quilombolas
on the basis of which the group would be defined that would coordinate the consultation
2. A full national seminar would be held, with the participation of the government,
quilombos, and civil society to discuss the principals hindering realization of public policies
regarding the quilombola people;
3. Preparation of a pre-proposal in a Working Group composed of representatives of the
government and members of CONAQ;
4. Facilitating debates of the pre-proposal in the various states;
5. Provision of an opportunity for two regional plenary [meetings] (North/Northeast
and South/Southeast/Center-West) for new debate on the pre-proposal;
6. Systematization of discussions and proposals from the regional plenary meetings;
7. Public hearing with the quilombolas and representatives of the government; and
8. Second public hearing with quilombolas, government, partner entities and invited parties.
Two factors are evident in the methodology proposed by CONAQ: constant dialogue with the government and the decentralized nature of the consultation. The
consultation methodology put forward by CONAQ envisions the participation of
government and quilombola representatives, in discussion, that is, it provides for a space
where debate and outreach could occur in the direction of agreement between the
movement and the government and toward consensus. The government would have a
more discrete role in the plenary meetings, but that would be the time when the social
movement would construct it position vis-à-vis the tenor of the process. On the other
hand, there was also concern about holding debates in the states and two plenary meetings
per region. This would make possible more intense participation in the debate by the


quilombolas of the country, as well as provide opportunity for the due length of time
for the movement to mature its position and effectively evaluate the pros and cons of
the proposal presented by the government.

3. Consultation and the Search for Consensus or an Attempt to
Dominate by Method
The “consultation” seeking the consensus of the quilombolas with regard to changes
in INCRA’s IN 20, which regulates the way in which the entity can proceed with furnishing
title to quilombola communities in Brazil, took place in Luziânia/GO between the 14th
and 16th of April. In principle several structural problems hindered the realization of the
discussion in a suitable manner: many quilombolas didn’t know if they would have
money to cover their daily costs for lodging and food and some, not knowing if they
would have the means to return to their cities of origin, although they came to the
consultation “financed” by the federal government. These setbacks meant that the
discussions were interrupted for the collection of lists of names, for example, and
involved leaders whose participation was of strategic importance for mobilization of
the consultation, in questions of logistics. The site itself, although it offered good food
and lodging, did not offer internet facilities, which hindered news regarding the
consultation being sent to specialized movement and partner sites and networks, and
was far from the banking network. As the financed per diems had not been deposited
beforehand, quilombolas concerned themselves with going to the bank to verify whether
they did or did not have resources to pay for housing and the return home.
Another thing that came to our attention was the fact that the federal government
had provided the text with the proposed alterations to the social movement without
explanations of same. That is, there was no basis presented for the why behind the
announced procedural changes. In one sense we are talking about changes to the text of
ICRA IN 20, but also about the drafting of a new, more complex normative rule, with
the insertion of administrative remedy with regard to procedure and to the definition
of the AGU and staff of the Presidency of the Republic as entities capable of solving
conflicts between government bodies, for example. However, the text of the changes
was simply sent to the quilombolas, without any explanation or justification for this type
of modification to the IN text. Three was no chance for full discussion among the
quilombolas prior to the consultation hearing that might have allowed them to formulate
positions and question vis-à-vis the government’s text, as the methodology used for the
consultation made no provision for same.
In methodological terms what happened in Luziânia/GO and what was styled as a
consultation was a three-phase procedure. In the first, the federal government presented


the principal point of alteration of IN 20, and it was only at that time that the quilombolas
became aware of the reasons and motives that occasioned the government’s altering
each of the parts of the normative text. Generically, the representatives of the federal
government merely affirmed that the alterations would allow for furnishing title to
quilombola territories in less time and with fewer pleas, as by means of the normative
revision there would also be a response to the groups opposing titling of the territories. A
large part of the first day was dedicated to discussion of nine points considered as principles
by the federal government: 1. utilization of the term “occupied lands;” 2. the requirement
for a certificate issued by the Palmares Cultural Foundation to start the titling process for
the communities’ territory; 3. resolution of claims involving overlapping of areas among
state entities by means of AGU intervention or by the staff of the Presidency of the
Republic; 4. the need for objectivity and technical impartiality in preparing the Technical
Report on Identification and Delimitation of the territories; 5. publicity; 6. obligatory
consultation for all organs and entities listed in Decree 4,887/2003 throughout the
administrative procedure for titling; 7. institution of a double degree of administrative
jurisdiction within the scope of the procedure; 8. seeking conciliation of interests between
organs, government entities; and 9. term and effective date of the new Rule.
On the second day the partners and advisors of the movement who attended the
consultation, for the most part invited by CONAQ, organized to explain to the
quilombolas present (about 300) the meaning and implications of the principal alterations
proposed by the government. This required that the team of advisors meet and
systematize information to be passed on to the quilombolas, as well as organize an
exposition on the tenor and implications of such changes with regard to the titling
procedure, right on the first day of the consultation. The activity with the quilombolas
would require two entire days of discussion at a minimum, with adequate methodology
in teaching about the law to laymen. To perform this work in one day prejudiced the
quality of the discussion; thus, within the methodological scheme for the “consultation,”
comprehension of the meaning of the changes was prejudiced. The second phase of
the procedure consisted of an attempt to explain the implications of the text presented
by the government to quilombolas coming from various parts of the country and
involved in different parts of the movement. Given this picture, CONAQ took a firm
position for retaining the text of INCRA’s IN 20, which position is protected in Article
35 of ILO Convention 169, as previously shown.
The third stage of the procedure was given over to reading, article by article, the new
text of the Normative Rule. There was not, at this time, any possibility of agreement,7 only
“consultation” by representatives of the federal government with regard to the consent or

Only one copy of the text was furnished to social movements and advisors.



lack thereof by the quilombolas to the proposed changes. ILO Convention 169 provides in
its text that agreement and consensus be sought, however, there was no space for that. An
agreement is something arising out of a mediation procedure that results in conciliation
between the disputing parties by means of the participation of a neutral facilitator who seeks
a solution to the problem.8 In the consultation process there was no participation by a neutral
mediator, who would buoy up the discussion between the federal government and the
quilombolas. On the part of the quilombolas, there was an understanding that the text to be
maintained would be that of the INCRA In 20 in force and not a totally modified text. On
the other hand, it was obvious that, on the government’s part, the persons there did not have
autonomy to make modifications to the base text presented without consulting other technical
personnel from their respective organizations. On this third day the quilombolas were asked
to immediately take a position—yes or no—regarding a text which was technical in nature,
written in legal language, and which dealt with the titling of their territories, which represented
their livelihood and means of maintaining their culture and identity.
In the face of this methodological “consultation” proposal, we cannot speak of there
being an appropriate length of time for consent and much less for an opportune moment for
producing consensus or agreement on the normative text. What is quite incomprehensible in
this scenario is why the quilombolas were given three days to “consent” regarding the “alteration
of the IN,” while the government’s working group, put together in September 2007, only
published the text of the replacement IN on October 1, 2008. It is understandable that even
among the federal government’s technicians, there may be differences of opinion and position
regarding the text of the alterations, however, this same length of time for discussion was not
granted to the quilombolas to whom the “opportunity” was given to participate in a consultation
process in the name of ILO Convention 169—that is, with a view to the duty of the Brazilian
state to hold a consultation. I emphasize that the method used to build the consultation process
is far from being the best and, as it turned out, ended in being a way to control the quilombola
peoples through not furnishing sufficient time for understanding the matter about which they
were to be “consulted” nor time for discussion between the quilombolas themselves.

4. IN 49 of September 29, 2008, and the Opposition of Social ovements
About one year after the government began work, a new Normative Rule was
produced, No. 49. Published in the Diário Oficial da União (Official Daily of the Union)
on October 1, 20089, it was signed by INCRA President Rolf Hackbarth. The published
Conley, John and O’Barr, William. Just Words. Law, Language, and Power. Chicago:UChicago, 1998.
Source:, accessed
on 30/10/2008 at 9:39 am (Dourados/MS time).



text is that with which the quilombolas did not agree, in large part. Aside from this,
incomprehension lingers: if the quilombolas themselves felt more confident with regard
to the text and criteria established in IN 20 as pertains to the titling of their territories,
why should it be modified? It is the text of IN 20 that should be maintained in cases of
the absence of agreement or consensus between the parties. Furthermore, ILO
Convention 169 anticipates the following:
“35.A application of the provisions of the present Convention shall not prejudice
the rights and advantages guaranteed to the interested peoples, by virtue of other
conventions and recommendations, international instruments, treaties, or laws, reports,
customs, or national agreements.”10
Thusly, the text of the Convention cannot be sued to prejudice the rights and
advantages guaranteed to the interested peoples by virtue of, as in the case before us, the
drafting of another rule. Keeping in sight the determinations of Decree 4,887/2003
which does not consider issuance of a certificate by the Palmares Cultural Foundation to
be obligatory for beginning the titling process, IN/49/2008 is a true regression in the
guarantees given to the quilombolas. In addition, making the administrative procedure
for titling more complex, principally with regard to preparing an historical and
anthropological report, will make the territorial delimiting phase even slower.
On October 10, 2008, the quiombola social movement and supporting entities put
out a “Letter of Repudiation”11 in which they point out, in their evaluation, the main
problems with the new IN/49/2008 and the consultation procedure. It points out that
the consultation methodology did not give the quilombolas sufficient time to formulate
their questions; the lack of agreement or consensus on altering the majority of the points
discussed; and backsliding with regard to the concept of territory, self-identification,
and curtailment of INCRA’s jurisdiction, as provided for in Dec. 4,887/2003. I have
some comments regarding two of these factors which I understand to be directly related
to ILO Convention 169:
a)Non-incorporation of the concept of territory in the normative text: ILO
Convention 169 establishes that “13.2.a the use of the term ‘lands’ in Articles 15 and 16
shall include the concept of territories, which covers the entire habitat of the regions that
the interested peoples occupy or utilize in some other way.”12 Thus, for IN/49/2008 to
safeguard the quilombola guarantees assured under the ILO Convention and the right
Source: _03/_ato2004-2006/2004/decreto/d5051.htm, accessed on 30/10/2008 at 9:50
am (Dourados/MS time).
, accesed on 31/10/2008 at 10:09 am (Douradas/MS time).
Source:, accessed on 30/10/2008 at 11 am
(Dourados/MS time).



to property assured to the quilombola people under the constitution, the following shall
not be enforceable: “Art. 4. All land utilized for guaranteeing their physical, social,
economic, and cultural reproduction are considered to be lands occupied by the
remainders of quilombo communities.”13 This is a point which Brazil could advance
and put the IN text in tune with international Human Rights instruments.
b) Bureaucratization of self-identification of the quilombola people: Decree 4,887/
2003 itself establishes that: “the following are considered to be remainders of the
quilombo communities, for purposes of this Decree: the ethnic-racial groups according
to self-attribution criteria, with their own historical path, endowed with specific territorial
relations, with presumption of black ancestry related to resistance against historically
suffered historically oppression. For purposes of this Decree, characterization of the
remainders of quilombo communities will be attested to by means of self-definition by
the community itself.”14 The self-identification registration certificate is only an
administrative recourse as anticipated in Art. 3, Paragraph 4 of Decree 4,887/2003, it
does not signify conditioning the start of titling work as set forth in IN/49/2008/
INCRA in Article 7, Paragraph 3: “the procedures dealt with in Articles 8 (on Identification
and Delimitation) and following shall only begin after submittal of the certificate
anticipated in the Sole Paragraph of Article 6 (Certificate of Registration in the General
Register of Remainders of Quilombo Communities).”15 We are reminded that ILO
Convention 169 assures that: “Consciousnes of its indigenous or tribal identity shall be
considered as a fundamental criterion for determining the groups to which the provisions
of the present Convention apply.”16 In this text there is nothing that speaks about
authentication by state entities to attest to self-identification as a condition for implementing
government policies.

Source:, accessed
on 30/10/2008 at 10:59 am (Dourados/MS time).
Source:, accessed on 30/10/2008 at 10:20 am (Dourados/
MS time).
Source:, accessed
on 30/10/2008 at 10 :33 am (Dourados/MS time).
Source:, accessed on 30/10/2008 at 10:38
am (Dourados/MS time).


The Brazilian State deserves credit for having ratified Convention 160 of
the International Labor Organization (ILO), making it one of the most
important legal tools of the struggle of the quilombola people in
exercising their rights. However, with a brief reading of Brazilian reality,
as in the case analyzed in this article, the State itself stands out as one of
the main violators of these rights.

Quilombola rights violated by the Brazilian State
Roberto Rainha1

Initial considerations
This brief article describes the effect of Convention 169 of the International Labor
Organization (ILO) on indigenous peoples and tribes, its ratification by the Brazilian
State, as well as its applicability to the descendants of slaves (quilombolas). It shows that
the Brazilian State itself, when it signed the agreement and commercial treaty with Ukraine
for commercial exploitation of the Space Base of Alcântara, Maranhão (MA), allowed
the rulings of the Convention to be violated, especially the right that requires the quilombola
peoples to be consulted whenever public or private administrative proceedings threaten
them directly or indirectly.
The choice of the topic is a result of the author’s participation in a non-governmental
project coordinated by the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights, which is
seeking to educate and train the quilombola communities around their national and
international rights. I had the opportunity in February 2008 to visit the communities
affected by the implementation of the project to launch the Cyclone-4 Space Vehicle in
Roberto Rainha is an attorney with the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights and received a post-graduate degree in human
rights from the Superior School of the General Office of the Attorney General of the State of São Paulo



The quilombolas, the Federal Constitution of 1988, and
Convention 169 of the ILO
Before speaking about the quilombolas, we need to note that the slavery of the
African populations in American resulted in 15 million enslaved men and women, violently
uprooted from the lands where they were born, of which approximately 40% were
brought to Brazil to serve as manual labor during the colonial period on farms and
plantations, in cities and in mines.2
Besides the fact that the labor force of these peoples was a major factor for the
Brazilian economy, we should also note the important contribution that slaves gave to
many aspects of the country’s social life, helping to form the culture and national identity.
Brazil was the last nation to remove the chains from the feet of the Blacks who had been
submitted to the slave regime. Abolition came in 1888 with the advent of the Golden Law.
Prior to this date, however, the slaves already showed their dissatisfaction with the
regime to which they were submitted. Some fled, others gave support to the fugitives,
others, captured, underwent cruel punishments where even death was preferable.
Those who succeeded in fleeing constituted nuclei of resistance to the regime. Slaves
who had been freed joined these nuclei, Indians, and mestizos, etc. This was the
composition of the quilombos. In this aspect, to think that the quilombos were just
hiding places for the slaves who had fled, as it is commonly stated, is wrong.
It should be emphasized that even with the Golden Law, the quilombos that resisted
and the ones that still existed were not dissolved. Abolition freed the slaves, but did not
confer on them any support for their survival, much less land to work.
Stretching out history, 100 years passed and the descendants of the slaves saw no
directives that referred to them, specifically as subjects with a right to land. The recognition
of the right to land came only with the passing of the Federal Constitution of October
5, 1988, in article 68 of the Temporary Constitutional Provisions Act.
That article states that: “to the remainders of the quilombo communities that may
be occupying their lands, definitive ownership is recognized, with a duty of the State to
grant them their respective titles to land”.
Although legally provided the right to land, little or nothing was done in the sense of
giving title to the lands in the areas of the quilombolas. Notwithstanding the lack of
need for a regulatory rule of Article 68 of the Temporary Constitutional Provisions Act,
Decree 3912/2001 was published, which was revoked by Decree 4887/2003. The
latter gave the Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) the responsibility
of granting land titles to the remainders of the quilombo communities.
2, accessed on October 28, 2008.



Enriching even more the rights of the quilombolas, the Brazilian State adhered to
Convention 169 of the ILO, on indigenous peoples and tribal peoples on June 27, 1989
(in Geneva). This convention was approved by the National Congress by means of the
Legislative Decree nº 143, of June 20, 2002.
On July 25, 2002, the Brazilian Government handed over the instrument of ratification
to the Executive Director of the ILO so that once the span of vacatio legis stipulated in
article 38 nº 3 of that Convention had passed, it would become part of Brazilian law.
Convention 169 of the ILO applies to members of communities that remain of
the quilombos, based on the meaning that Article 1º, nº 1 established “to the tribal
peoples in independent countries, whose social, cultural, and economic conditions
distinguish them from other sectors of the national collective and that they be governed,
totally or partially, by their own customs or traditions or by special legislation.”
Even in the same Article 1º, in its paragraph nº 2, it establishes that self-consciousness
is the fundamental criteria of applicability of the recognition of ethnic quilombola identity.
Quilombos, it has been said and is worth repeating, are geographic spaces formed
by slaves who fled or were freed, Indians, mulatos, etc. whose work was done in a
collective way. With a more current concept it can be stated that they are traditional
communities, with cultures, customs, forms of production, and in some cases, their
own internal rules, which makes it imperative to understand that the applicability of
Article 1°, nº 1, “a” of Convention 169 of the ILO is directed “to the tribal peoples in
independent countries, whose social, cultural, and economic conditions distinguish them
from other sectors of the national collective and that they be governed, totally or partially,
by their own customs or traditions or by special legislation.”
In this sense, the Judiciary Branch, when urged to rule on a demand involving
quilombolas and the ethnic territory, understood Convention 169 of the ILO to be:
(...) fully applicable to the quilombolas, because these are included in the ruling of article 1.1.”a”
as “tribal peoples”, in the sense of being those who, “in all the independent countries, whose social,
cultural, and economic conditions distinguish them from other sectors of the national collectivity,
and who may be governed, totally or partially, by their own customs or traditions or special
legislation”. Furthermore, it anticipated that a) the governments must “adopt the measures that
are necessary to determine the lands that the interested people traditionally occupy and ensure the
effective protection of their rights of ownership and possession” ( art. 14, 2); b) must “institute
adequate proceedings in the scope of the national court system to solve the demands of land
formulated by the interested peoples” ( art. 14, 3 c/art. 1.3, concerning the understanding of
“peoples” in the Convention).” TRF4, drawn up by Des. Rel. MARIA LÚCIA LUZ
LEIRIA in interlocutory appeal nº 2008.04.00.010160-5/PR.


The right to land for the quilombolas was established in the Constitution of 1988,
and the directives of Convention 169 of the ILO also unquestionably applied to them.
So the quilombolas must be under the mantle of all the rights that the Magna Carta and
the celebrated Convention grant them.
So the way it will be analyzed going forward, the Brazilian government must, by the
principles that sustain the Democratic Rule of Law, ensure the effectiveness of the
guarantees that the Constitution and the Convention confer on the quilombolas. But
instead it begins to attack them, as happened in the signing of the Agreement and the
commercial Treaty with Ukraine.

About the agreement and the commercial treaty between
Brazil and Ukraine that were signed without observing
Convention 169 of the ILO
Relations between Brazil and Ukraine for cooperation on the peaceful use of space
initiated in 1999, and the National Congress by means of Legislative Decree nº 766 of
October 16, 2003 approved the text of the “Agreement between the Government of
the Federal Republic of Brazil and the Government of the Ukraine about Technological
Safeguards related to the Participation of Ukraine in Launches at the Launch Center of
Alcântara, celebrated in Kiev on January 16, 2002, promulgated by Presidential Decree
nº 5.266, of November 8, 2004.
Still in the year 2004, the “Treaty between the Federal Republic of Brazil and Ukraine
on Long-Term Cooperation in the use of the Launch Vehicle Cyclone-4 at the Launch
Center of Alcântara, celebrated in Brasilia on October 21, 2003”, was approved by the
National Congress by means of Legislative Decree nº 776 of September 17, 2004 and
promulgated by Presidential Decree nº 5.436 of April 28, 2005.
However, from June 25, 2003, the terms of the Convention 169 of the ILO
over indigenous and tribal peoples were already in effect in Brazilian law, since it
was a question of human rights, its preamble respecting the terms of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights,
and even more, by dealing with the protection of the Economic, Social, Cultural,
and Environmental Rights – all these instruments, ratified by the Brazilian State –
their incorporation was given automatic form in the law in the terms of Article 5º,
§ 2° of the Constitution.
In this sense, Professor Flavia Piovesan teaches that “relative to the international treaties
on the protection of human rights, the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, in the terms of
article. 5º, paragraph 1°, accepts the system of automatic incorporation of the treaties,
which reflects the adoption of the monistic conception” (PIOVESAN, 1997, p. 111).


It follows from there that once Convention 169 of the ILO went into effect in
Brazilian law, it must be concluded that the Agreement, as well as the Treaty between
Brazil and Ukraine, were signed with a lack of observance as to what the Brazilian State
must fulfill when it ratifies a UN Convention.
The agreement and the treaty aim to explore Brazilian air space, using the Launch
Center of Alcântara/MA and, on its own terms, it is evident that the quilombola
communities would be directly affected when these treaties are carried out. So even
before signing them it would have been necessary to consult the quilombola communities,
according to the terms of article 6º and 15 of Convention 169 of the ILO.
Article 6º of Convention 169 of the ILO requires that whenever there are legislative
or administrative measures that may affect the life of the communities, the people living
there have the right to be consulted through the appropriate proceedings, such that these
consultations will be made in good faith.
Such a right to consultation is also established in article 15, n° 2 of the same Convention.
But the duty to consult has not been respected, meaning the Brazilian State considers
Convention 169 of the ILO to be a dead letter, denying the rights of the quilombolas in
favor of commercial interests.

The ethnic quilombola territory of Alcântara and the
current consequences stemming from the agreement and
commercial treaty between Brazil and Ukraine
There are 153 quilombola communities in the ethnic quilombola territory of
Alcântara/MA. The members of these communities (around 3500), have for a long
time been carrying out a difficult struggle for respect and guarantee of the exercise of
their basic human rights. This is because in the 1980s, the Brazilian state began the Launch
Center of Alcântara and since then 312 families belonging to 32 traditional communities
have been moved and resettled in agro-villas.
These agro-villas are totally inadequate, lacking basic necessities for survival of these
populations, since the soil is not fertile and the communities have been moved from the
coast, the main source of fishing for these populations.
The quilombolas of Alcântara/MA have already expressed their ethnic identity, with
the Palmares Cultural Foundation having expedited and published the certificate, which
makes it indisputable that this group of people constitutes a quilombola under the
terms of Article 1º, n° 2 of Convention 169 of the ILO.
Currently there is resistance against the enlarging of the Space Launch Center, which
when done, will dislocate other communities, since the Launch Center is located in
quilombola territory.


The threat of new dislocations and much upheaval is evident, since with the
negotiations between Brazil and Ukraine, goals were laid out for the launch at the Center
of the Cyclone-4 Launch Vehicle, anticipated for 2010.
In these negotiations, the Brazilian state ceded the space and infrastructure for the
launch. On its part, Ukraine took responsibility for developing the technology, mounting
the Cyclone-4 Launch Vehicle, and launching it into space.
To manage the work, the bi-national Alcântara Cyclone Space (ACS) Company was
created, an international entity of an economic and technical nature, originated by the
Treaty between Brazil and Ukraine for the operation and launches of the Cyclone-4
Launch Vehicle from the Launch Center of Alcântara (Art. 3º of the Treaty).
To begin with, the installations of the Alcântara Cyclone Space are anticipated to be
situated between the quilombola communities of Mamuna and Baracatatiua, ethnic
communities that are part of the denominated ethnic territory of Alcântara/MA.3
The ACS Company, for its part, contracted with Brazilian companies to begin the
work of scientific studies of the soil, air, site, geography, vegetation, etc. These studies
came to an end in the beginning of 2008 with a real attack on the rights of the quilombola
communities referred to above. Everything in the name of the Cyclone-4 project but
once again without the required consultation with the quilombola communities.
Even in the absence of consultation and the consent of the community, the ACS
and its contractors began incursions into the territory of the quilombola community of
Mamuna and Baracatatiua, leaving there a track of destruction of essential natural
resources and the survival of the people who live in that community, destroying plots
of land, trees, palms, rivers, all of it documented in Occurrence n° 0147/2008 of the
Police Station of Alcântara/MA on February 25, 2008.4
As has been seen, the violations of Convention 169 of the ILO were promoted by
the Brazilian State when, with the signing of the agreement and the treaty with Ukraine,
it allowed illegality to radiate out from the initial work of the operation of the Cyclone4 project in that ethnic territory.
Having carried out the activities under the command of the ACS, begun without the
required consultation with the people living in the quilombola communities, such attitudes
were indicative of true disrespect for article 6º and 15 of Convention 169 of the ILO,
since a person, whether a legal person or a physical person, can do everything except what
the law prohibits. Carrying out studies, no matter of what nature, in a quilombola community
without consultation with, and the consent of the community, is legally prohibited.
According to Ofício n° 02/2008, of the ACS awaiting a request for clarification by the Federal Attorney General’s Office of MA.
Police Inquiry registered by João da Mata Sales, president of the Assocation of People Living in the Quilombola Community of



But this is not all; in Federal Constitution Art. 225 one reads that to all is conferred
“the right to an ecologically balanced environment, for common use of the people
and essential for a healthy quality of life, which imposes on Public Power and on collectivity
the requirement to defend it and preserve it for present and future generations.”
Convention 169 of the ILO, for its part, in Article 4°, n° 1, determined that the
State should adopt special measures that are needed to safeguard people, institutions,
goods, cultures, and the environment of traditional peoples with a goal of preserving,
among other things, the culture of these peoples.
It is also not only certain that article 68 of the Temporary Constitutional Provisions
Act recognized that the quilombolas have the right to ownership of the lands that they
occupy; it is also certain that in reaffirming these rights, Article 215 of the Constitution
anticipates that the State will guarantee to all the full exercise of their cultural rights and
access to the sources of national culture and will support and foster the valorization and
diffusion of cultural manifestations.
However, for the full and effective reach of what Article 215 anticipates, the State
must “protect the manifestations of popular, indigenous, and Afro-Brazilian cultures and
those of other groups who participate in the national civilizing process”. (art. 215 § 1º)
And in Article 216 of the Magna Carta, the Legislator understood that “goods of a
material and immaterial nature, taken individually or together, carriers of reference to
identity, action, to the memory of the different groups that formed Brazilian society, are
included” constitute the Brazilian cultural patrimony.
With § 5º of the same Article 216 guaranteed the recording of “all the documents
and the places that hold historical remainders of the old quilombos.”
One emphasizes this despite the fact that Convention 169 of the ILO, in its Art. 5°,
“a” and “b”, determines that “social, cultural, religious, and spiritual values and practices
of peoples, must be recognized and protected and the nature of the problems that they
face must be taken into consideration collectively as well as individually “ and even “the
integrity of the values, practices, and institutions of these peoples”.
However, starting with the reading of these legal rulings, it is necessary to understand
that the scope of Article 68 of the Temporary Constitutional Provisions Act includes
the protection of the historic cultural patrimony and cultural manifestations, giving great
importance to the cultural identity of the groups that helped to form Brazilian society.
From the articles of the laws cited, it can be seen that not only was the ownership of
the land conferred on the descendants of the quilombo communities that occupied
them, but the relation that constitutes the identity among these communities and the
territory that they traditionally occupy was recognized. This constituted a differentiating
and characterizing element of these ethnic minorities, synonymous with a relevant


contribution for national retraction of the practice of slavery against Black people,
which determined the recognition of equality and dignity of this people before law and
society, making it possible for them to enjoy all the inherent rights of a human person.
So besides experiencing violence to the areas where they make a living, their plots of
land, and rivers, the people who live in the quilombola communities of Alcântara/MA,
experience the threat of destruction of their spiritual cultural patrimony.
In the same way that the constitutional mandates (215 and 216 of the Federal
Constitution, Art. 68 of the Temporary Constitutional Provisions Act) that Afro-descendant
manifestations belong to the historic-cultural, material and spiritual patrimony and helped
to form the civilization process of the country, and moreover its protection is in the
interest of the whole nation; Convention 169 of the ILO (art. 4° e 15), requires that
social, cultural, religious, and spiritual practices of the quilombola peoples must be
protected, the long-term treaty of cooperation between Brazil and Ukraine and the
preparatory studies for the launch of the Cyclone-4 Space Vehicle threaten the preservation
of the historic and cultural afro-Brazilian patrimony and promote major disrespect for
the rights that these same peoples, throughout history, gave their blood to win.
It should be noted that in September 2008, the Federal Attorney General’s Office
of Maranhão, in a court action (Proc. nº 2008.37.00.003691/5) handed down a
preliminary ruling that prohibited the Brazilian Space Agency and the ACS from carrying
out any work, installations, and service that would affect the possession of the ethnic
territory of Alcântara until the title to the land had been definitively granted. Such a
decision, although praiseworthy, does not mean that the quilombolas of Alcântara are
free of threats caused by the project to launch the Cyclone-4 Space Vehicle.

Final considerations
It has been shown above that the Federal Constitution ensured that the quilombolas
must have the title of ownership of the lands that they traditionally occupy and that
Convention 169 of the ILO about indigenous and tribal peoples applies to the peoples
of the quilombolas.
It was shown that the Agreement and Treaty between Brazil and Ukraine were
accompanied by acts in opposition to the rulings contained in Convention 169 of the
ILO about indigenous and tribal peoples, mainly to the right of consultation that these
peoples always have when entreprises threaten their rights.
In the same way, it was shown that as a result of the non-observance of the rulings
of Convention 169 of the ILO, the initial studies to fulfill the agreement and treaty
between Brazil and Ukraine, the bi-national Alcântara Cyclone Space company and its
subcontractors also allowed Convention 169 of the ILO to be violated and moreover,


allowed attacks on the rights of the quilombola communities of Alcântara/MA and on
the environment, and threatened the historical and cultural patrimony of these
The author has arrived at the end of what he intended to conclude—that the Brazilian
State deserves credit for having ratified Convention 169 of the ILO, making it one of
the most important legal tools of struggle of the quilombola communities attempting
to exercise their rights. However, with a brief reading of Brazilian reality, as in the case
that is analyzed here, it is the State itself that stands out as one of the main violators of
these rights.


An important issue throughout the Northeast region is the implementation
of water services for the urban population of about 1,300 municipalities.
The National Water Agency (ANA) has carried out an initial investigation
that involved mapping the projected demands for urban water in the entire
region, in addition to an “Atlas of the Northeast”, which maps the water
services in the entire region. A total of 530 projects would provide water
security to approximately 34 million people. In all of Brazil`s history,
there has never been an analysis so important in the region. This Atlas
examines each municipality and makes suggestions for specific projects
that would provide potable water to the entire urban population.

Social Equity in the Use of Water
Roberto Malvezzi1
For several decades, civil society in the Northeast, most of whom are located in the
ASA (Semi-Arid Articulation), made an important effort to turn water into a right that
is accessible to the population that most needs it. This effort is not just about developing
technologies, or enhancing knowledge about the climate of the region, but instead about
a real, concrete effort to construct grassroots initiatives that make this right become a
reality. Behind this struggle is the precarious reality of so many people who do not have
regular access to clean water, particularly in rural areas.
Projects such as “One Million Cisterns” (P1MC) and “One Land and Two Waters”
(P1+2), have made great advances largely due to the commitment of grassroots
organizations. This means that a challenge which seemed impossible to some people is
becoming a positive reality. The construction of approximately three hundred thousand

Roberto Malvezzi is a member of the Pastoral Land Commisison (CPT)



cisterns to store water for human consumption, and the launch of new technologies to
trap rainwater for farming, proves that we are moving in the right direction. The statistics
even show that this reality is changing - there are fewer emergency hunger situations that
once evidenced the awful social and humanitarian chaos that was so common in previous
decades. Policies for social compensation such as the Bolsa Família (Family Stipend) and
even the acknowledgement of the rural population’s right to retirement has had a decisive
influence on improvement of the regional social inequalities. It is now rare to hear news
of tragedies caused by drought, and migration has significantly decreased. There are
some situations in which people from the Northeast have returned to their native lands.
While we are far from a satisfactory solution to this problem, what once seemed
impossible is now becoming more visible than what was once thought.
One of the most important goals of these projects is to offer water security to the
rural population of the Northeast region, a population that is distributed over
approximately one million square kilometers. Providing this population with clean water
is an enormous challenge, given that traditional pipelines are unable to transport water
for families that live far apart, and underground water, when found, is often salty. The
means that this population has used to date is a barrier method, which creates small
reservoirs dug directly in the earth to store rainwater during the dry season. One problem
with this method is that the water is subject to excessive evaporation, leaving behind
poor quality water, often inappropriate even for animal consumption. This is one of the
reasons (in addition to food insecurity) for infant mortality in this region.
Besides building these cisterns for human consumption, together with the construction
of other technologies for food production, the underlying goal was to provide quality
water on a regular basis to these populations, acknowledging water as a basic human
right. The goal was to end the manipulation of human thirst as a way for the Northeastern
oligarchy to maintain power over a virtually defenseless populations. Manipulation of
human thirst, as well as hunger and health, is a true aberration.
Many times, while we were constructing these popular initiatives, we wondered
about the reaction of the Northeast oligarchy. This is an oligarchy that is used to having
these groups in the palm of their hand, especially during election season. We were
concerned about how they would perceive this fundamental change in the lives of these
people, and how they would react to this change.
At the beginning their reactions were varied, yet at times grotesque. One mayor
from the municipality of Pilão Arcado, a municipality just north of Bahia, explicitly
prohibited a community from receiving approximately 30 cisterns that were going to be
constructed by the local church. The community still wanted the cisterns, he then ordered
them destroyed. This attempt to destroy the project was also unsuccessful. On another


occasion when the municipality realized that this reaction was dangerous for its interests,
they decided to build the cisterns themselves. The result was that cisterns were constructed
far from homes, which meant that the cisterns could not collect rainwater from a family’s
roof - the municipality was able to keep the communities dependent on municipal
water sources. This practice, as astonishing as it was, shows that the mayor was only
trying to keep people in a state of need in order to benefit his own electoral interests.
The slow evolution of this popular initiative came into question when President
Lula came to power. Those of us who had set out to build one million cisterns in five
years were unable to reach our goals. This was first and foremost because civil society
did not have their hands mixed up in the State, of course, because othrewise they would
not be civil society. Another thing that slowed us down was that in our minds, we were
not just building cisterns, but also constructing an educational process that would allow
communities to understand the climate in the region so that they could more effectively
adapt to it. Furthermore, the inconvenient interruption of public funds also slowed
down the project. Even so, all indicators showed that this was the best way to proceed
– step by step until these small water projects were increased to millions of projects, one
house at a time, that will form a vast network of decentralized water resources throughout
the semi-arid region.
The surprise that we had at the end of 2007 was the federal government’s change in
strategy for operational funding through the OSCIPs (civil society organizations in the
public interest). The government cut back on the budget and redirected the money,
particularly to the state governments. This would be a logical decision in a country in
which institutions function democratically.
At this point we realize that the old and the new political leaders of the Northeast
were mobilizing to destroy the program put into place by civil society, in order to free
up its budget for state governments, municipalities, and city councils. ASA’s procedures
did not allow for electoral political manipulation in the construction of cisterns. In this
context, water is treated as a fundamental human right, and any manipulation of its use
must be openly criticized. Politicians that manipulate human needs for their own benefit
should be denounced for violating human rights.
This debate about water as a right, about the possibility of having community organizing
projects without municipalities or city councils getting involved, demolishes one of the
basic pillars of Northeast politics – the use of human thirst as a way of conquering and
maintaining power. The surprise was not the reaction of the traditional oligarchies, but
rather the involvement of the current federal government in this harmful practice.
An important issue throughout the Northeast region is the implementation of water
services for the urban population of about 1,300 municipalities. The National Water


Agency (ANA) has carried out an initial investigation that involved mapping the projected
demands for urban water in the entire region, in addition to an “Atlas of the Northeast”,
which maps the water services in the entire region. A total of 530 projects would
provide water security to approximately 34 million people. In all of Brazil`s history,
there has never been an analysis so important in the region. This Atlas examines each
municipality and makes suggestions for specific projects that would provide potable
water to the entire urban population.
We have worked to support the idea that these types of projects should be
implemented in the entire region, so that the entire population has water security. At the
same time, we are working to defend simple technologies that trap rainwater – both for
drinking and for food production – so that these technologies expand to several million
small projects. These projects can solve the problem of the most isolated rural populations.




According to data from ISP-RJ, in Rio de Janeiro, the police killed 810
people in the first seven months of 2008, an increase of 8% in relation to
the 744 deaths in the same period of the previous year.

Security, Rights, and Violence in Rio de Janeiro
Atila Roque1
The current system of recording deaths as acts of resistance is a “blank check” for
the deaths inflicted by the police.2
Reading the data about police violence gives us an approximation of the totalitarian
abyss that patrols public security institutions in Brazil. The police, responsible in the first
instance for repression of criminal activities and executors of the state monopoly on the
use of force, is today one of the chief violators of human rights.
In spite of the struggle for building democratic institutions since the end of the
military dictatorship in the 1980s, the sphere of public security is still marked by human
rights violations. The shocking increase in violence and deaths caused by police actions
confronts us with an emergency situation. A significant portion of Brazilian people still
have their lives circumscribed by violence and fear.
As demonstrated by the exhaustive studies3, nearly 50,000 persons are murdered
each year in Brazil. This homicide rate is among the highest in the world. In 2004, there
were 26.9 deaths for each 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 11.7 deaths in 1980. In
Atila Roque is a Historian and member of the Institute of Socio-Economic Studies (INESC).
Report by the Special Rapporteur of the UN on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, Dr. Philip Alson. 29 August 2008.
This article is based on data and analyses by Sílvia Ramos of the CESeC/UCAM (Center for Studies on Security and Citizenship
of Candido Mendes University) and by Luiz Eduardo Soares, former Secretary of Public Security and currently Secretary for Social
Welfare and Prevention of Violence of the Municipality of Novo Iguaçu, in the State of Rio de Janeiro.



European countries, these rates are as low as 3 deaths for each 100,000 persons. In the
United Sstates (considered one of the most violent of the developed countries) there
are about 5 to 6 deaths for each 100,000 inhabitants.
In Brazil, studies also show a relation of this type of repression with race, gender
and income. The principal victims are young, low-income, black men (from 15 to 24
years old). As Sílvia Ramos shows, in some regions (especially in favelas) the homicide
rate for young men exceeds 200 per 100,000 inhabitants.4
In Rio de Janeiro, in 2007, on duty police were responsible for nearly 18% of the total
number of deaths, killing an average of three persons per day.5 In the United States, which
is considered one of the most brutal of the developed countries, the police kill, on average,
350 persons per year, in a country with 300 million inhabitants. The police in the state of
Rio de Janeiro killed nearly 1,000 people per year, over the last ten years.6
It is important to stress that the police are also victims of violent death, but the
majority of such deaths occur while off duty. In Rio de Janeiro, in 2007, the number of
police deaths while off duty was four times greater than while on duty, 119 and 32
police, respectively.7
The data already published for 2008 indicate a growth trend, fed by the open
confrontation policy promoted by the state government. According to ISP-RJ data, the
police in Rio de Janeiro killed 810 people in the first seven months of 2008, an increase
of 8% in relation to the 744 deaths in the same period of the previous year.
These studies show that the variables of age, gender, race, and social class are a risk
factor to be considered suspect by the police. Low-income, young men, predominantly
black, living in the favelas, are the police’s preferred suspects.8 According to researchers
Sílvia Ramos and Leonarda Musumeci, in 2006, Rio police officers killed 357 people in
favelas and 34 people in high income areas of the city.
This situation is aggravated by the degree of linkage between criminal activities and
politicians. In Rio de Janeiro, during the 2008 elections, several candidates for mayor and
RAMOS, Sílvia. Direito a segurança, um desafio para o Brasil (The Right to Security, a Challenge for Brazil). In: INESC.
Pensando uma agenda para o Brasil: desfios e prespectivas (Thinking about an agenda for Brazil: challenges and perspectives). Brasília:
INESC, 2007. pp. 68-87.
According to statistics from the Institute of Public Security of Rio de Janeiro, total homicides (6,133) added to deaths caused by police
(1,330) in 2007, was 7,463 persons.
Lecture given by Luiz Eduardo Soares at a seminar on public security policies organized by Observatório da Cidadania/Social
Watch, in Rio de Janeiro, in 2008, to be published in the 2009 report.
Data from the Institute of Public Security of the State of Rio de Janeiro.
Research by CESec/Ucam, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, in 2002, revealed that 57.9% of persons stopped by police, on foot, were
between the ages of 15 and 29. In turn, considering persons stopped in all police apprehensions, blacks were subject to searches in 55%
of the cases, against 32.6% of those in which whites were apprehended. See: RAMOS, sSílvia; MUSUMECI, Leonarda. Elemento
suspeito: abordagem policial e discriminação na cidade do Rio de Janeiro (Likely Suspects: police apprehensions and discrimination in
the city of Rio de Janeiro). Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2005.



councilmen were accused of ties to organized crime, to private militia and extermination
groups. We also followed the enthusiastic applause of a middle class trapped by fear,
which prefer “cleansing” the city at any price rather than meeting the greater challenge
of restructuring the public security system and guaranteeing equal rights to all. This fear
strengthens stereotypes and consolidates prejudices. The recurring images of police
invasions of favelas, imposing terror in the name of “order”, cause practically no
commotion in society or the media, as if we were in conformance with the idea that
these are areas excluded from the framework of democratic, legality, and in a permanent
state of exception.
The appearance of militias – to a great extent formed by members of the police, as
well as fire fighters and the military – represent one more level in the submission of
these populations to terror.9 The links that the militias maintain with the State, by ties to
the police, the legislature, and the judiciary, create a network of complicity and corruption.
Even after the 1988 Constitution, the Brazilian security apparatus basically kept the
same structures and practices designed by the military regime. In order to change this,
there is a need for structural changes. The government needs to invest in training police
forces, implementing an efficient system for social control, and punishment of those
who commit crimes. As the mother of João Roberto (a 3 year old boy shot by police10
in Rio de Janeiro) said, apologies should not be accepted unless they are accompanied
by actions aiming at reforming public security policies.

In the second half of 2007, the newspaper O Globo published a series of reports entitled “Os brasileiros que ainda vivem sob a
ditadura” (The Brazilians who still live under the Dictatorship), relating dramatic situations of repression in the favelas and peripheral
See O Globo item at:


Compared with the same period in 2007, the number of deaths caused by
police in the first half of 2008 increased by 21.9%, rising from 201 deaths
in 2007 to 245 deaths in 2008. On the other hand, the number of police
killed in these confrontations went down from 15 to 14. The proportion
of deaths was 11.4 civilians for every police death. Following a downward
trend, the number of murders in the state fell 13% in the first half of 2008
compared to the same period in 2007.

Actions and Omissions in Public Safety:
an Analysis of São Paulo state
Adriana Loche and Leandro Siqueira1
The number of people killed by police officers in Brazil is one of the highest in the
world. According to UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, the Brazilian police are responsible
for a significant percent of the number of homicides recorded throughout the country,
which shows that the police resort to lethal force in the majority of conflict cases.
The purpose of this article is not to provide an exhaustive analysis of security policies in Brazil, but rather focuses in particular on two phenomena that are directly related
to the actions of the Santo Dias Center for Human Rights, which are: the lethality of
police actions and summary executions.
Official statistics, published quarterly by the Secretary of Public Safety, point to an
increase in police violence in the state of São Paulo in 2007 and 2008, revealing that
occurrences in 2006, after the attacks in May, did not constitute isolated cases of violent
actions by the police. In spite of the change in the Police Command and at the Secretary
of Public Safety, with the election of José Serra (PSDB) as governor of the State of São

Social scientists and team members of the Santo Dias Center for Human Rights of the Archdiocese of São Paulo.



Paulo in 2006, there was little progress in reducing the number of deaths caused by
police, as was verified in the administration of his predecessor, Geraldo Alckmin, also
from PSDB.
It is known that the official numbers for resistance followed by death—which are
cases of homicides during a police action—can be underestimated, because many cases
are omitted, such as the ones that involve off-duty police or murders caused by police,
but not classified as “resistance.”2. An example is the case of Carlos Rodrigues Júnior,
whose death occurred in December 2007 in the municipality of Bauru (SP)3, as a result
of torture by military police. This case is not included in the deaths caused by police,
because it didn’t fall under the classification of resistance followed by death. Other cases
of omission are the death of MP Coronel José Hermínio Rodrigues, executed in January
20084 by a military policeman, and the case of seven people who died, on the same
morning, victims of a massacre in which police officers participated. These cases were
recorded as occurrences of murder in general, although all of them involved police
agents. Even with underestimation of the number of deaths caused by police officers,
the official statistics reveal the excessive use of lethal force.

Lethality of Police Action
In 2007, the Secretary of Public Safety of the State of São Paulo counted 444
deaths of civilians caused by the state’s police forces, whether on duty or off duty.
Thirty-three police died in these actions, which correspond to an average of 13.5 dead
civilians for each dead policeman. The police use lethal force in a manner out of proportion
with the argument of “protecting life in emergencies.”5
These deaths, classified as resistance followed by death, correspond to 9% of all
murders in the state, which in 2007 came to 5,420 deaths. In North American cities, the
police are responsible for less than 4% of murders, while in São Paulo the figure is 9%.
When the numbers are analyzed for the state capital, the figure rises to 13.5%. This year,
police forces killed, in the municipality of São Paulo, a total of 232 persons, and the
number of homicides recorded in the capital was 1,713.
According to the claim made by
Folha de S. Paulo
on the subject of “Public Safety omits part of the deaths by MP,” 12/03/2008.
According to the coroner
’s report issued by the Legal Medical Institute of São Paulo, 15-year-old Carlos Rodrigues Júnior, deceased after being seized by military
police at his home, for suspicion of stealing a motorcycle, received 30 electric shocks on his body. Two of them were on the left side of his
chest and reached his heart, causing cardio-respiratory arrest. Source: Folha de S. Paulo, 19/12/2007.
O Estado de São Paulo, 16/01/2008
Chevigny, Paul. “Police Deadly Force as Social Control: Jamaica, Brazil, and Argentina,”
Série Dossieê NEV, no. 2, 1991, p. 10, Center for Studies on Violence, USP, São Paulo.



It is important to stress that, among the homicide cases for the population in general, we are also counting deaths caused by massacres and summary executions, which in
2007 corresponded to 190 deaths, some of them with the proven participation of
agents of the police forces.6
The number of civilians wounded by police agents in the State of São Paulo in 2007
was 416, that is, less than the number of deaths. In the same period, 602 police agents
were wounded. Internationally, the parameter adopted to indicate the level of legitimacy
for the use of force in police actions is that the number civilians wounded should be
greater than the number of deaths. Therefore, we can conclude that there is violence out
of proportion in São Paulo, given that for each dead civilian there are 0.9 wounded.
When we look at different police departments, lethality is much greater in the Military
Police, responsible for 93.6% of the deaths of civilians, increasing even further the
proportion between dead civilians and police agents, which is about 15 dead civilians
for each dead police agent.
In the first half of 2008, 245 persons were killed by state police forces in acts of
resistance followed by death, where 14 police were also killed, of which 12 were Military
Police. This proportion equals about 17.5 dead civilians for each dead police agent. In
these actions, 209 civilians and 200 police were wounded, which equals 1.1 wounded
police agent for each wounded civilian. The proportion of dead and wounded civilians
in the police actions was once again greater (1.2 dead civilians for each wounded civilian).
The cases of resistance followed by death in the first half of 2008 correspond to
10% of the total number of murders in the state, raising the contribution of police
action to the magnitude of homicides in general.
Compared with the same period in 2007, the number of deaths caused by police in
the first half of 2008 increased by 21.9%, rising from 201 deaths in 2007 to 245 deaths
in 2008. On the other hand, the number of police killed in these confrontations went
down from 15 to 14. The proportion of deaths was 11.4 civilians for every police
death. Following a downward trend, the number of murders in the state fell 13% in the
first half of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007. What we see in São Paulo is the
continuity of a repressive security policy, whose “efficiency” is accounted for by the
number of people killed in police actions.

Summary Executions: the Return of an Old Habit
Aside from directly promoting violence, by means of the “resistances followed by
death,” the police forces were not successful in restricting homicides by extermination

Data from the Annual Report of the Ouvidoria das Polícias of the State of São Paulo.



groups.7 From May 2006 until December 2007, the Ouvidoria de Polícia (Police
Ombudsman’s Office) recorded 166 massacres, which victimized 355 persons throughout
the state, and in many of which agents from the police forces participated. It is important
to stress that the Secretary of Public Safety (SSP/SP), responsible for criminal statistics,
affirms it does not have up to date data on this type of crime, accounting for them only
as homicides, in spite of their being part of phenomena that are very distinct from
homicides in general.8
In 2007, the Police Ombudsman’s Office tracked 80 actions of unknown
responsibility, among massacres and summary executions.9 There were 30 actions in the
capital, 33 in the São Paulo metropolitan region, and 17 in the interior and coastal areas
of the state.
When the areas of occurrence are analyzed, a large concentration is seen in the
peripheral areas of large cities. For example, in the municipality of São Paulo such cases
are concentrated in the Northern and Eastern Zones, which border on the city of
Guarulhos, where 20% of the cases were recorded.

Final Considerations
In these last years, in spite of the reduction in violence in society—the homicide rates
have been decreasing since 2000—police violence has not diminished, and the number
of massacres has increased. The statistics show that police violence has increased while
violence in society has decreased. Likewise, the number of death attempts against police
remained stable. Therefore, we see a greater arbitrariness in police actions. The situation
of São Paulo is not an isolated one, but can also be seen in other states, such as Rio de
Janeiro and Pernambuco. It’s the result of a policy that ignores basic rights to physical
integrity and to life, particularly against people who live in the peripheries of large urban
centers, where they also don’t have access to economic, social, cultural, and environmental
In spite of the innumerable claims made regarding this reality, there has not
been any structural change, which allows the police to act in defiance of the law,
since the mechanisms for control and investigation of these cases are largely inefficient.
Cases of homicides resulting from the so-called “resistance followed by death” are
considered “normal.” External control of the police remains within a single entity –
As defined by the Ouvidoria da Polícia of the State of São Paulo multiple homicides with the simultaneous execution of three or
more persons are considered to be massacres. Summary executions are those cases of single or double homicide in which the victim was
executed in ways characteristic of the actions of extermination groups.
Data extracted from the comparative chart on cases of unknown responsibility: massacres and executions, prepared by the Police
Ombudsman of the State of São Paulo.



the Police Ombudsman’s Office – which, despite its importance, has been
systematically weakened by lack of funds.
Effective and articulated responses to such problems, which include the promotion
of social policies that reduce inequalities, are essential for the production of changes.
The Santo Dias Center for Human Rights points to one of the possible routes for
transforming this reality: immediate application of Federal Law 10.446/2002, which
provides for the possibility of action by the Federal Police in the investigation and followup of these cases of human rights violations.


The characteristics of incarcerated women in Brazil today show that they
are young, of African descent, and in the majority serving prison time for
drug trafficking. The women who are serving prison time experience
lack of family support, with no guarantee of partner visitation or remaining
with any children born during their prison term, which demonstrates the
double (multiple) punishment of the woman by both the penal system
and society. In São Paulo, about half of the incarcerated women, or
49%, wait more than a year to move to a prison location, compared to
36.9% of men in the same situation1. It is common for the women to opt
for staying in a crowded jail in order to stay close to their family and

Incarcerated female: the women’s
prison system of Brazil
Lívia Gimenes Dias da Fonseca2 and Luciana de Souza Ramos3
In following the subtleties of a perverse prison system that disrespect the incarcerated
male, what is the portion of the incarcerated woman when she must wear the same
uniform as the incarcerated male? She wears long pants, always. Never skirts! The
incarcerated woman when looking in the mirror does not see a woman, much less
allows herself to feel desire. She does not follow any female “stereotype.” She does not
SURVEY “Perfil do preso no Estado de São Paulo” (Prisoner profile in the State of São Paulo), November, 2002.
There is a large gap in the official data on the nation ’s prison system situation, a fact also criticized in the Final Report from the
Interministry Working Group (GTI), ob. cit.
Lívia Gimenes Dias da Fonseca, graduate in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP); was recipient of a CNPQ fellowship
in 2007 to perform research entitled “De faxineiras a faxinas
—O Direito do Trabalho como forma de dignificar o trabalho encarerado feminino” (From housecleaners to housecleaning – The right
to work as a way to dignify female work during incarceration,” and today she is Technical Advisor at the Amnesty Commission of
the Ministry of Justice, Lattes:
Luciana de Souza Ramos, graduate from the Catholic University of Salvador – UCSAL. She is a researcher at the UNB Society,
Penal Control, and the Justice System Research Group, under the supervision of Professor Ela Wiecko. She is also member of the
Interministry Working Group “Incarcerated Women.” Lattes:



have dreams or self-knowledge of what is to be a woman. (Dora Martins, judge for
the State of São Paulo)

There is little research work done on female criminalization, given the frequent
exclusion of women, either as an object or subject of criminology and the criminal
justice system, research, and debates on criminalization (socio-economic and political
aspects). Although the number of incarcerated women4 in Brazil is miniscule in comparison
to the total of 308,786, the fact is that from 2001 to 2006 there was a 135% increase in
the number of incarcerated women5.
The Brazilian penitentiary system houses approximately 14,058 women (4.55% of
the total)6, and 6,522 (25%) are serving time in jails located at police stations7, compared
with 13% of the male incarcerated population, which illustrates the lack of a policy that
is specific to the case of incarcerated women.8
In São Paulo about half of the incarcerated women, or 49%, wait more than a year
to move to a prison location compared to 36.9% of men in the same situation.9 It is
common for the women to opt for staying in a crowded jail in order to stay close to
their family and children, which shows the lack of a policy to build adequate prisons.10
The characteristics of incarcerated women in Brazil today show that they are young, of
African descent, and in the majority serving prison time for drug trafficking. The women
who are serving prison time experience lack of family support, with no guarantee of partner
visitation or remaining with any children born during their prison time, which demonstrates
the double (multiple) punishment of the woman by both the penal system and society.
In this regard, the majority of the women were, prior to incarceration, single and
living alone. It has been verified that in the city of São Paulo 36.3% of all incarcerated
It is important to highlight the difficulty in gathering data on female incarceration, as the data furnished by DEPEN does not include
all the facets of female penal process. For this reason in this article we will work with data furnished by the Interministry Working
Group on the Female Prison System (Incarcerated Women GTI) and by the Institute for Land, Work, and Citizenship (ITTC), which
offered us data specific to the case of the city of São Paulo, which contains the largest incarcerated female popula
tion in the country.
2006 data presented in the Interministry Working Group (GTI) Final Report on “Reorganização e Reformulação do Sistema
Prisional Feminino” (Reorganization and reform of the female prison system), Brasília: December/2007
The incarcerated male population comprises 94% of the total incarcerated population. Report GTI, op. cit., p. 10.
The Public Safety System includes police stations and police districts. There has been a significant increase in women incarcerated
between 2000 and 2006. The total percentage increased from 7.81% to 11.05%, or an increase of 33.75% in the entire country. Ibid.,
p. 10. Perhaps this data justifies the media focus on the cases of incarcerating women with men, under the reasoning that there is a
lack of space.
Id., ib., p.17.
LEVANTAMENTO “Perfil do preso no Estado de São Paulo” (Prisoner Profile in the State of São Paulo), November 2002.
There is a large gap in the official data on nation’s prison system situation, a fact also criticized in the Final Report from the
Interministry Working Group (GTI), ob. Cit.
At present there are a total of 55 female prison units in the country, compared to 1,042 for men. Id., ib. p. 31.



women do not receive any visitors, compared to 29.2% of their male counterparts, and
39.9% of males incarcerated in the Differentiated Disciplinary Regimen (RDD) receive
visitors, even in view of the increased difficulties offered by the system in their case.
This differentiation demonstrates the abandonment that incarcerated women experience.
Even though the women are incarcerated, they remember to include family members
within the recipients of the income that they earn in prison, and because it is constant, it
ends up being the main income for many families. The main cause for these remittances
may be their children, since the majority of women lived with their children prior to
incarceration. Most of the time their children stay in the care of their maternal
grandmothers. In comparison, most of the males lived with their mother or spouse
prior to incarceration, reaffirming that the burden of raising a child is still in the mother’s
Thus, the incarceration of women offers consequences of a diverse order. It not
only affects the incarcerated woman’s life, it extends to the entire family, community, and
society; it particularly affects their offspring, both younger children and adolescents.

The consequences of female criminalization in prison
Women are treated in a harsher manner than men, and are doubly condemned:
legally for breaking a law, and socially for being considered biologically and sexually
abnormal. The biological reasoning behind the idea of low female criminality is related
to the “natural” docility and passivity that women display, which is adirect consequence
of the “immobile egg.”12 When women commit a crime, their behavior is equated to
“men’s behavior,” that is “the women not only break the sanctioned penal laws, but also
“offend the construct of gender roles as such.”13
Baratta observed that female delinquency is always associated with the roles imposed
on women, or “crimes typical of women,” like abortion and infanticide. In contrast,
they found a penal code that privileged them. 14
In this way, when infractions are committed that fall outside predicted female roles,
the violators are treated more severely than their male counterparts.15
In view of such discrepancy, we can safely conclude that the prison system was not
conceived with women in mind, and the reason for this is believed to lie in the system of
controlling women’s behavior in private, by the hands of a patriarchal male, which
Felippe, Kenarik Boujikian, ob. cit.
LEMGRUBER, Julita. Cemitério dos vivos: análise sociológica de uma prisão de mulheres (Cemetery of the Living: Sociological
Analysis of a Women’s Prison) Rio de Janeiro: Achiamé, 1983,p. 12
CAMPOS, Carmen Hein de (org) Criminologia e feminismo (Criminology and Feminism) Porto Alegre: Sulina, 1999, p. 52
BARATTA, Alessandro. Paradigma do gênero: da questão criminal à questão humana (Gender Paradigm: from the criminal
question to the human question). In:Criminologia e feminismo. Porto Alegre: Sulina, 1999, p. 51.
Id., ib., p. 51.



views violence against women as a means of guaranteeing male control16. Penal law
was composed with a view to men as the “players of roles in the (public) sphere of
material production.”17 The penal laws that were created address gender specific issues
such as abortion, infanticide, abandonment of minor children, and function to maintain
gendered societal rules,18 that is, the reproductive role serves also to maintain patriarchal
domination insofar as it guarantees “a regimen of male dominated property inheritance
and accumulation.”19
The profile of the female incarceration described above, clearly shows a prevalent
gender inequality, not only in the forms of sentencing (in all stages of penal execution),
but also in the denial of the basic rights of imprisoned women.

Labor perspectives within the prison
The differentiation in the culturally created spheres and roles of men and women
can be more clearly seen in the social division of labor, which operates within a social
construction of gender roles, where material production has been reserved, throughout
patriarchal society, for men, and the reproductive sphere was reserved for women.”20.
The event of women entering the labor market signaled an increase in criminality, as
Julita Lemgruberr explains: “The statistical data on criminality rates show a correlation
between increased female participation in the labor force and increased gender equality,
and so female participation in criminal statistics also increases.”21
The pioneer works of Georg Rusche and Otto Kirscheimer, have demonstrated
that there is a correlation between an increase in incarceration and the corrosion of the
labor market, as the punitive system functions in this case to neutralize the population
defying this new economic order according to a gendered division of labor.22 The
prison system addresses the male population, while the welfare system addresses women
and children.23 When women enter the penal system, “the modalities of treatment” that
address this population focus specifically on education and professional training aimed
"The difference between public and private that supports the functioning of a ‘general economy of power’ is in the ‘public areas where the
most prestigious fields of action are centered, or those that assure a material reproduction,’ which address specifically economy and politics.
In contrast, the private sphere, is the one reserved for the world of life.” Campos, Carmen Hein de (org), ob. cit. p.48-49
Idem, ibidem p. 46
"The penal code is a specific system of productive labor, and consequently of property relations, work ethics, as well as the public sphere that
guarantees its functioning. The reproductive area, the sexual exchanges a couple has in creation of a family, procreation, family, and
primary socialization, in other words, the private sphere, is not the object of the criminal justice, or the public punitive system” Ibid p. 45
Ibid p. 49
Ibid p. 45
LEMGRUBER, Julita, ob. ccit. p. 14
WACQUANT, Loic. As prisões da miséria. Trad. de André Telles. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2001,
Ibid p.100



at reproduce and assure, in case of female workers, the double subordination “both in
gender relations and in production.”24
Looking at women’s activities while in prison, these do not differentiate from
the activities performed prior to incarceration and are in keeping with the common
expectations for female roles.
For this reason there is greater entrepreneurial interest in establishing themselves
within women’s prisons,25 based on the belief that women are more disciplined,
obedient, fragile, and gentle. However, the work women perform does not
differentiate greatly from that of their male counterparts, as these activities are manual, in assembly line, and low-skilled labor that does not require technical
This signifies that “the woman in prison is the same woman who, outside
of prison, is subjected to the socio-historical and political subordination practices
that the feminist movements have sought to break to allow women to exercise their

Reproductive and Sexual Rights
The debate on sexual and reproductive rights not only addresses the right to
decide when to have a child, but also the right to choose with whom to have sexual
relations, and when. The application of these rights is in the realm of the guarantee
of access to health care services for women.
Gender inequality appears in prisons perversely in the forms of sexual
deprivation, which is imposed more injuriously and more inflexibly than in the case
of their male counterparts. Very few female prison units allow partner visitation,27
under the pretext of avoiding pregnancy – which generates more work for the
prison workers and the need for adequate facilities – and due to the low visitation
level from male partners.
The violation of women’s sexual rights appears in two forms: individually, as it
restricts freedom, privacy, intimacy, and autonomy, in other words, the free exercise
of sexuality and reproduction, without discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Collectively, in the absence of public policies that assure their rights, such as access
"The prison system does not prepare women for an autonomous life, but places them in the role of faithful wives and proletariat,”
CAMPOS, Carmen Hein de (org), ob. Cit, p. 50
For females the index is of 6.6%, data from FUNAP (four times higher than for males); and 45.6% are companies (for male prisoners
the figure is 30%). Data from FUNAP, November 2002.
WOLFF, Maria Palma (coord.) ob. Cit p.17
FELIPPE , Kenarik Boujikian, “Indulto de 2004, uma nova história para as mulheres encarceradas” (Pardons for 2004: a new
history for imprisoned women). Text from the public hearing held in September 2004, at the National Council on Criminal and Prison
Policies, Ministério da Justiça,, Acess 16/10/2008.



to information regarding sexual and reproductive education, the discussion and
dispensing of methods of contraception, and gender violence prevention.
Many women prison units maintain a policy of punishing prisoners who engage in
homosexual relations. The denial of partner visitation, and the sanctioning of sexual
relation in prison represent a peculiar form of gender discrimination.
The debate on gender equality allows for a reflection on the effectiveness of sexual
and reproductive rights, which must be part of a public policy that focuses on woman’s
health as a whole.
The denial to partner visitation makes it impossible the woman to exercise her right
to choose getting pregnant or not, to be a mother, and we see here other consequences
of the violation of the right to maternity, since children are taken from their mothers at
the age of four months. The questions then are: “What is the situation of the children of
the women serving prison time? Do they loose the link to family and community when
serving prison time?”28
The penal system duplicates the experience of violence for incarcerated women
through the institutional violence that reproduces the structural violence of patriarchal
social relations and sexist oppression.

BARATTA, Alessandro. Paradigma do gênero: da questão criminal à questão humana. Criminologia e feminismo (Criminology and Feminism). Porto Alegre: Sulina,
BRANT, Vinicius Caldeira. O trabalho encarcerado (Incarcerated Labor). Rio de
Janeiro: Forense, 1994.
CAMPOS, Carmen Hein de (org) Criminologia e feminismo (Criminology and
Feminism). Porto Alegre: Sulina, 1999.
CAVALCANTI, Lygia Maria de Godoy Batista. A dignidade da pessoa humana
como norma principiológica de aplicação no Direito do Trabalho (The dignity of the
human being as a governing standard for the Right to Work). In: SEMER, Alessandro
da Silva, Jorge Luiz Souto Maior, Kenarik Boujikian Felipe, Marcelo (coords.) Direitos
Humanos: Essência do Direito do Trabalho (Human Rights: The Essence of the Right
to Work), SP: Ltr, publication of the Associação de Juízes para a Democracia (Judges
for Democracy Association), 2007.
ESPINOZA Mavila, Guilma Olga. A mulher encarcerada em face do poder punitivo: o direito ao trabalho em uma prisão feminina (The imprisoned woman in the face
SANTA RITA, Rosângela Peixoto. Mães e crianças atrás das grades: em questão o princípio da dignidade da pessoa humana
(Mothers and children behind bars: in question, the principle of the dignity of the human being). CNPCP/MJ. Brasília/DF, p. 64.



of punitive power: the right to work in a women’s prison). Masters Thesis submitted to
the USP Law School. São Paulo, 2003.
FELIPPE, Kenarik Boujikian. Pardons for 2004, uma nova história para as mulheres encarceradas (2004 Hearing: a new history for imprisoned women). Text based on
participatoin in a public hearing held in September 2004 at the National Council on
Criminal and Prison Policies, Ministry of Justice.,
ler_noticiad.php?idNoticia=60, Acesso 16/10/2008.
LEMGRUBER, Julita.Cemitério dos vivos: análise sociológica de uma prisão de
mulheres (Cemetery of the Living: sociological analysis of a women’s prison), Rio de
Janeiro: Achiamé, 1983.
SURVEY “Perfil do preso no Estado de São Paulo” (Prisoner Profile in the State
of São Paulo), November 2002.
Relatório Final (Final Report) of the Interministerial Working Group (GTI) on
Reorganization and Reformulation of the Women’s Prison System, Brasília: December/
SANTA RITA, Rosângela Peixoto. Mães e crianças atrás das grades: em questão o
princípio da dignidade da pessoa humana (Mothers and children behind bars: in question:
the principle of the dignity of the human being). CNPCP/MJ. Brasília/DF
WACQUANT, Loic. As prisões da miséria (Prisons of Misery). Translation from
the French by André Telles. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Ed., 2001.
WOLFF, Maria Palma (coord.). Mulheres e prisão: a experiência do observatório
de Direitos Humanos da Penitenciária Feminina Madre Pelletier (Women and prison:
the experience of the Human Rights Observer at the Mother Pelletier Women’s Prison),
IAJ (Instituto de Acesso à Justiça), RS: Dom Quixote, 2007


The number of abortions performed annually in Brazil is estimated at
1,054,243.1 In addition, there are about 250,000 hospitalizations per year
due to abortion complications. Its illegality comes at a high price for the
public health system, costing the country around 35 million Reais per
year.2 Unsafe abortion is one of the main avoidable causes of maternal
death in Brazil, and it reveals a pattern of inequality and social injustice.
Maternal death due to unsafe abortion practices and the health
complications that they generate exacerbate the unequal access to health
care, due to socioeconomic reasons, ethnicity, and racial discrimination.

Prosecution of Women for Abortion in Mato Grosso
do Sul: a Question of Human and Reproductive rights
Beatriz Galli3 and Carmen Hein Campos4

The threat of criminal prosecution against 10,000 women in the city of Campo
Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, for supposedly practicing illegal abortion, makes this case
symbolic for a discussion of women’s human and reproductive rights. This case points
up the urgency in debating the currency and efficiency of the 1940 law rendering abortion
Adesse, Leila and Monteiro, Mario. 2007. Magnitude do aborto no Brasil: aspectos epidemiológicos e sócio-culturais (Magnitude of
abortion in Brazil: epidemiological and sociocultural aspects). IPAS Brasil/IMS/UERJ.
INTERNATIONAL PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION, Morte e Negação: Abortamento Inseguro e Pobreza (Death and Denial: Unsafe Abortion and Poverty), 2006.
Beatriz Galli, attorney, received her Master of Law degree at the School of Law at the University of Toronto, is a human rights
consultant at Ipas Brasil, and member of the Latin American and Caribbean Committee on the Defense of Women’s Rights –
CLADEM Brasil.
Carmen Hein Campos, attorney, received her Master in Law from the Federal University de Santa Catarina and from the University
of Toronto, she specialized in Criminal Sciences at PUC-Rio Grande do Sul, and is a consultant in the areas of violence against
women, sexual, and reproductive rights. She is counsel and director of THEMIS – Juridical Assistance and Research on Gender, and
of the Latin American and Caribbean Committee on the Defense of Women’s Rights – CLADEM Brasil.



illegal. On bursting into the 20-year old Family Planning Clinic and seizing medical records,
the city authorities violated several fundamental human rights. Moreover, the absence
of legal abortion services, in addition to maintaining a law prohibiting abortion,
demonstrates that the Brazilian state violated equality in access to health care. This article
discusses the Brazilian authorities’ actions and omissions with regard to the countless
human rights violations, questioning the role of the State in protecting and guaranteeing
women’s human rights, when dealing with issues of autonomy in reproduction, in
enforcing non-discriminatory health access, and the right to privacy, information, and
due legal process.

1. Unsafe Abortion: a public health and human rights issue
Research has pointed out the direct correlation between legal restrictions on abortion,
the high number of maternal deaths, and the health consequences resulting from the
practice of unsafe abortion, as the illegality of abortion prompts women to seek unsafe
abortion. In this regard, after legalization of abortion in South Africa in 1996, the
indices of maternal death dropped 91% in just five years, 91%.5 In Romania when
abortion was made illegal, deaths due to unsafe abortion increased. When the legal
restrictions were lifted, the country experienced a drastic reduction in the number of
deaths resulting from abortion.6
In Brazil abortion is considered a crime, with the exception of cases of rape and
where the mother’s life is at risk.7
The number of abortions performed annually in Brazil is estimated at 1,054,243.8
In addition, there are about 250,000 hospitalizations per year due to abortion
complications. Its illegality comes at a high price for the public health system, costing the
country around 35 million Reais per year.9 Unsafe abortion is one of the main avoidable
causes of maternal death in Brazil and it reveals a pattern of inequality and social injustice.
Maternal death due to unsafe abortion practices and the health complications that they
generate exacerbate the unequal access to health care, due to socioeconomic reasons,
ethnicity, and racial discrimination.
Jewkes R. & Rees H., Dramatic Decline in abortion mortality due to the Choice Termination of Pregnancy Act.; South African
Medical Journal. April 2005; 95 (4): 250.
Stephenson P. et al, Commentary: The public health consequences of restricted induced abortion – Lessons from Romania; American
Journal of Public Health. October 1992; 82(10):1328-1331.
The Brazilian Penal Code, in article 128, anticipates two circumstances in which an abortion procedure by a physician is not
punishable: in cases of the pregnancy risking the mother’s life and when the pregnancy resulted from rape.
Adesse, Leila and Monteiro, Mario. 2007. Magnitude do aborto no Brasil: aspectos epidemiológicos e sócio-culturais. IPAS Brasil/
INTERNATIONAL PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION, Morte e Negação: Abortamento Inseguro e Pobreza, 2006.



It is the women living in the worst socioeconomic conditions, and consequently
experiencing a high social vulnerability, who are at the highest risk of mortality and who
are the principal victims of the penal prohibition. The right to health does not mean
only physical health, or the healthy body, but it also includes the right to mental health,
which extends to reproductive health, and imposes on the State the obligation of ensuring
access to quality and free health care services to all women.
The criminalization of, or the threat of sanctions for the practice of abortion, violates
women’s right to life and health, blocking access to health care services, putting their
lives at unnecessary risk, and violating the women’s right to decide free from any form
of coercion and violence. Moreover, criminalization of abortion violates the right to
self-respect because it blocks the exercise of free decision making regarding reproduction,
the autonomy to make decisions regarding one’s own health, the right to be or not a
mother, the right to personal identity, and sovereignty over one’s own sexuality.
The legal criminalization of abortion reproduces gender discrimination, as it
criminalizes a health procedure that only pertains to women. The United Nations
Committee to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), expressed in its General
Recommendation Number 24 that to deny access to health care services exclusively
dedicated to women is a form of discrimination: “Other barriers to proper health care
services for women include laws that criminalize medical procedures dedicated to women,
and that punish women for undergoing such procedures;” and it says that “whenever
possible, legislation that criminalizes abortion should be revised to remove the punitive
provisions imposed on any woman who undergoes abortion.”10
The Brazilian penal code in effect today discriminates and violates the constitutional
precepts of equality between men and women (Article 5 of the Federal Constitution).
Moreover, it impacts women differently in its practice, as the most vulnerable group of
women – the poor, those with low-income, and with a low educational level – are the
ones who suffer the most criminal prosecution.
The abortion debate should be based on the provisions of the cosntitution11 and on
those contained in international treaties and human rights conferences.12 The 1994 Cairo
International Conference on Population and Development, and the 1995 Beijing Fourth
CEDAW, General Recommendation Nº 24, 1999, Paragraphs 14 and 31c.
The 1988 Federal Constitution is based on the fundamental principles of equality, human dignity, privacy, and liberty, and it defines
the state as secular and democratic. In addition, it guarantees the right to life and the right to access to health care and family planning,
among others.
The Brazilian government ratified, without restrictions, the main international human rights treaties that guarantee the respect of
sexual and reproductive rights, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW), the Interamerican Convention on Prevention, Sanction, and Eradicating Violence Against Women (Belém do Pará
Convention), the Convention on Children’s Rights, the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Pact
on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.



World Conference on Women, for example, have declared women’s sexual and
reproductive rights as human rights. The international documents originating from these
conferences, The Cairo Plan of Action and the Beijing Proposal for Action, are directives
for governmental actions and policies in the areas of sexual and reproductive health.
On signing such documents, the Brazilian government agreed to implementing public
policies to achieve the goals expressed in these documents. Paragraph 106 K of the
1995 Beijing Proposal for Action states that “governments should consider revising
their laws that endorse punitive measures against women who undergo illegal abortion
On July 2007 CEDAW recommended that the Brazilian government “continue
with efforts to improve women’s access to sexual and reproductive health care services”
and “accelerate revision of the legislation that criminalizes abortion, with a focus on
removing the punitive sanctions imposed on women who undergo abortion, all in
conformity with General Recommendation 24 on women’s health, and the Peking
Manifesto and Proposal.”13 It is well known that legal restriction on abortion does not
reduce its practice, and it is a determinant factor in the clandestine practice, generally
performed in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, with high risks for the health and lives
of women.14

2. Mato Grosso do Sul Case15
After a news story shown on the Jornal da Globo, on 04/10/2007, at TV Morena
(affiliated to Rede Globo) on the abortions performed at the Family Planning Clinic at
Campo Grande, the state Public Prosecutor denounced the physician owner of the
clinic, and six employees for committing the crime of abortion, and of forming a gang.
While carrying out the order for search and seizure, 9,862 medical files were seized
constituting evidence of the crime of abortion against 70 women who are being
prosecuted at this moment. These seized files were handled by the police and attached
to the criminal process as evidence that these abortions were performed at the clinic.
This attitude, as regards the penal process, is illegal and violates the right to privacy of
the women in the case, and the right to medical confidentiality.
CEDAW, Doc. UN Cedaw/C/1998/II/L.1/Add. 7, paragraph 6, 1998. To classify abortion as crime does not encourage
women not to undergo the procedure, on the contrary, it fosters risky practices, as stated by the United Nations Committee to End
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), in its Conclusive Observations for the Peruvian Government of July 8, 1998.
The information on this case is based on the Technical Commission Report of May 2008. The Commission was composed of
representatives of the Citizenship and Reproduction Center (CCR), Health, Reproductive, and Sexual Rights Feminist Network,
Brazilian Movement for the Right to Legal and Safe Abortion, Antigona, Cfemea, and Themis. The report is based on research,
interviews with local authorities, women being prosecuted, and representatives of local women’s movements, in addition to official
documents and news articles.



· Violations of the right to privacy and to health care: breaking medical
confidentiality and secrecy
The medical files that form the basis for the criminal process ongoing in the city of
Campo Grande were attached to the criminal process and were made accessible to the
general public for almost three months, explicitly violating the constitutional principles
of the right to privacy and intimacy of the prosecuted women.16
The handling of the medical files by non-physician professionals constitutes a violation
of these fundamental rights, as well as the right to confidentiality and medical secrecy.
According to Cook17 (2004), this confidentiality is an obligation that these professionals
and others must observe in order to keep secret medical information received during
their practice. In addition, Resolution 1,065/2000 of the Federal Medical Council determines that there should be an expert (physician) nominated by the court to examine the
medical information and to report his or her findings to the court and police authorities.
Thus, the handling of the medical files and the information contained therein can only
be performed by a medical doctor [in this case an expert nominated by the judicial
· Violations of due process
The handling of medical files by the police proves the illegality of the evidence, as
they did not abide by the legislation concerning nomination of a medical expert for such
purpose, in addition to violating the intimacy and privacy of the women in the case.
On the other hand, in view of such illegal handling of said files, the confessions
obtained at the police station, in some cases without the presence of an attorney or public
defender, should be considered null, as they were obtained illegally, compromising the
entire criminal process, violating the right to a full defense and to judicial guarantees. For
compromising the criminal process, the conditional sentencing imposed by the Judiciary
cannot be considered valid on the grounds of the same arguments mentioned above.
The conditions imposed by the judge regarding alternative sentences, such as providing
services to the community in daycare centers and pre-schools, as a condition for suspending
the criminal process, are “pedagogical” in nature and can be considered akin to
psychological torture and inhumane treatment of the accused women18. Thus, the
countless irregularities noted compromise the efficiency of the process and establish its
absolute nullity.
In addition to the Medical Ethics Code, Article 102, addressing the secrecy of medical service, article 154 of the Penal Code establishes
professional secrecy with the objective of preserving patients’ privacy and intimacy.17 Rebecca Cook. Mahmoud Fathalla. Saúde
reprodutiva e direitos humanos: integrando medicina, ética e direito (Reproductive health and human rights: integrating medicine,
ethics, and law). Rio de Janeiro: Cepia, 2004.
Juliana Arini, Punidas por Abortar (Punished for Abortion), Revista Época, May 2008.



3. Final Considerations
The case in Mato Grosso do Sul has generated debates, news articles, public hearings
at the State Bar Association, at the Human Rights Commission of the State Assembly, in
addition to public manifestations by human rights organizations and social movements
in solidarity with the women being prosecuted. In fact, until now no actions had been
taken by the federal and state authorities to stop the human rights violations from
continuing, or to correct those already committed.
The mass criminalization of the women in Campo Grande for abortion reveals that
the public authorities responsible for safeguarding principles, guarantees, and fundamental rights, such as the Public Prosecutor and the Judiciary, not only agree with the
violations, but are themselves violators of human rights. This serious situation can provide
an opportunity in the future for the international community to hold the Brazilian State
accountable for not fulfilling its international commitments in the area of human rights.


Although fed by dreams and with intent to better their lives, on crossing
the border many of the prejudices regarding gender become even more
relevant. Migrant women are the victims of much violence, including
domestic violence. Their illegal status and language make it more difficult
for them to access support services. This also makes it difficult to determine the indices pertaining to this reality. Migrant women, besides being
confronted with gender inequality, also encounter ethnic and racial barriers
to protection. In seeking a dream, slave-like labor is only one of the
many difficulties faced by Bolivian women in Brazil.

Migrant Women in Brazil
Luciane Udovic1 and Luiz Bassegio2
The migration of thousands of women from poor countries to rich ones, or even
within Latin America, is intimately connected with the macro-economic policies imposed
by multilateral financial institutions. Payment of external debts, besides impoverishing
the countries, hinders their development in a sustainable manner and obliges thousands
of people, both men and women, to seek better living conditions in other countries.
This is an unjust economic system that particularly affects women.
For every cent paid against debt, there are fewer funds for education, health, and
food security for women and their families. Thousands are condemned to unsteady and
poorly paid—or often unpaid—work, eviction from their lands, as well as privatization
of public services. Women are the creditors of an enormous historic, ecological, social,

Luciane Udovic is one of the coordinators of Cry of the Excluded.
Luiz Bassegio is a coordinator of the Continental Cry of the Excluded.



ethical, and financial debt that has accumulated throughout the history of patriarchal
colonization and exploitation of resources from our countries.
As a consequence, people migrate in search of a better life. The case of Bolivian
migrants in Brazil is a typical example. Deceived by false promises of work that is
worthwhile and well paid, men, women and children arrive in Brazil every day to
encounter a hard routine working on sewing machines, confined in tight, dark, and
unhealthy quarters in several neighborhoods of São Paulo. “I was working in Bolivia
and the work wasn’t going well. My wife and I heard on the radio that they needed
people to work in Brazil. They told us they would pay well, that we would earn US$200
per month, but on arriving here we found it wasn’t true. The days passed, and the
owner of the factory no longer let us go out on the street. He closed us in and I didn’t
know what to do because I had my wife and my cousin. If I went to the owner he
would treat us badly, and out of fear I preferred to keep quiet. My wife was one-month
pregnant and even so kept working to pay what we owed. The factory owner who had
loaned us the money to cross the border made us work until one or two in the morning,
to pay him that damned money.” (Pedro M.L.)
This is one of thousands of claims received by CAMI (Migrant Support Center),
located in the Pari neighborhood of São Paulo. However, there is a need to debate the
specific situation of immigrant Bolivian women. They face difficulties regarding
documentation, work (many cases of unhealthy circumstances, illness, and not being
paid for work at the sweatshops), as well as cases of domestic violence. Usually, migrant
women are seen with the function of only following their husbands in the great adventure
of fighting for better days. Although women are the ones who usually facilitate socialization
of their families in the destination country, they suffer a lot in this process.
On crossing the border, many women suffer from prejudices and violence, including
domestic violence. Their illegal status and language make it more difficult for them to
access support services. This also makes it difficult to determine the indices pertaining to
this reality. Migrant women, besides being confronted with gender inequality, also
encounter ethnic and racial barriers to protection. In seeking a dream, slave-like labor is
only one of the many difficulties faced by Bolivian women in Brazil.
Many companies in Brazil recruit cheap labor in Bolivia (close to 1200 to 1500
arrive every month to work in São Paulo). The majority work in small clandestine
sweatshops located in 18 neighborhoods of São Paulo that supply products to large
stores such as Marisa, Riachuelo, Renner e C&A, among others.
These immigrants work shifts much longer than what the law allows, earn pennies
for each piece produced, and live at the work site. Several men, women, and children
are housed in a single room, often without ventilation, presenting many health risks,


especially tuberculosis. The right to come and go is denied, since in general migrant
workers have a “debt” with their employers for the transportation to Brazil. Thus,
although they are not in “chains,” super-exploitation and lack of freedom can be
characterized as practices analogous to slave labor.
Deceived, humiliated, and without hope, many migrants turn to drink as a kind of
anesthetic to survive the situation. The even more disastrous result falls on the shoulders
of women. The frustration of their husbands often translates into acts of violence.
A recent case attended by CAMI was that of Zilda, a 22 year old Bolivian women.
According to her, “We arrived from Bolivia—I, my husband, and three children. The
factory owner brought us here. In the beginning we lived in a favela near Wal-Mart, but
after a time we were taken to a sewing factory that was hidden. We were locked in, only
today the owner opened the door for me to go out and turn around. We stayed there
about eight months. We worked the day through and into the night. We received fifty
Reais per month and no more. In the morning we ate bread. There was one piece for
my husband, one for me, and I cut the other piece into three for my children to share.
While we were sewing, my children were kept locked in the room or were tied so as to
not put their hands in the machine, and not slow up the work. The owner was angry
when the children bothered him. He also had children, they tormented mine and nobody
said anything. Sunday I found my husband in bed with the factory owner’s niece. After
what I saw, he assaulted me, dragging me by my hair, and I cried out for help, but there
was no one there. My husband sent me away, and I said I am a woman with children
and also pregnant; nobody is going to give me work. I spoke with the owner and he
gave me the key to leave that prison. I was on the street, with the children. A Brazilian
lady passed who gave me ten Reais to buy food. Some Bolivians who saw my situation
took me to their house and let me stay the night. I spent one night and left without eating
anything, and without a change of clothes. I had nowhere to ask for help. Some Bolivians
took me to the Migrant Support Center where they gave me water and food, and
where I could take a bath. Afterward I went to a shelter (AVIM-House of the Migrant).
Now I want to go back to Bolivia.”
Paulo Illes, CAMI Coordinator, told us that the Center attorney took charge of the
case. The aggressor and the factory owner will be investigated. Illes remembers that the
practice of leaving children tied is very common in factories where there is slave labor.
In the larger factories, the children are locked up for several hours, with no contact with
their parents. Where the spaces are smaller, the mothers usually leave the children tied to
the leg of a chair, so they don’t interfere with the machinery. The result of this barbarity
can be seen upon contact with the children. When they leave the factory they don’t play,
don’t talk, they keep very quiet near their mother.


The Migrant Support Center receives several complaints like this. Seeing the living
conditions of migrant women can attest to an enormous vacuum in public policies to
address the needs of this segment of society. Migrant women need access to basic
services in the areas of health, education, and income generation. We need to achieve full
protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for all
people, in all countries.


The Observatório de Favelas (Favela Watch) recently conducted a study of 230
children, adolescents and youth (11-24 year-olds) employed by armed drugdealing gangs in 34 poor areas located in the city of Rio de Janeiro. A group of
10 interviewers systematically followed 152 of the youth. Towards the end of
the study, it became evident that job attrition was high: the number of youth
who died was 45 and only 97 remained employed. The findings are also very
troubling because they reveal the high percentage of youth not attending school,
as high as 93%, and those using drugs (89%). The study also showed how
young the youth are when they first join the gangs – 46% were between the
ages of 11 and 14. Despite the fact that the majority of the youth interviewed
said their biggest dream was to make a lot of money, data show that 57% earn
an average wage of from one to three minimum salaries ($192 to $578 reais a
month). There is a lot of exploitation, and 60% of the young men said they
work more than 10 hours each day, in shifts of 12 to 24 hours without breaks.
57% said they worked 7 days a week. Only 24% of the youth thought their
lives were satisfying, and 40% decided to leave the gang voluntarily.

Violations of Human Rights of Children and
Adolescents in Brazil
Maria Helena Zamora1
Despite some gains that guarantee the human rights of children and adolescents,
our country still has to overcome critical issues that demand urgent solutions. I would
like to point out that even though the issues can be presented separately, they are
interconnected in a complex way that can only be addressed by integrated action.

Maria Helena Zamora is a professor at the Psychology Department of PUC-Rio de Janeiro (Pontifical Catholic University).
According to Waiselfisz (2004), 72% of youth deaths are caused by external means and of those, 39.9% are homicides.



Child labor is one such issue, and even though it is on the decrease, change is coming
slowly. A National Household Sample Survey (PNAD) in 2007 showed that there were
still 2,500,842 children aged 5 to 15 who worked, a number representing 6.6% of the
population in that age bracket. For some analysts, (Institute for Applied Economic
Research - IPEA, 2008) the social programs intended to help families in extreme poverty
are not able to keep children from working. Even though 65% of the children who
work do not receive wages, the money offered through such programs (in the case of
the Family Stipend as much as R$112.00 (US$48) per family unit) cannot compete with
the money earned by children who do get paid for their work. The children who work
and do not attend school earn an average of R$226.00 (US$97). Even though there is an
immediate economic gain, the fact that these children do not go to school is a threat to
those boys and girls, especially in a job market with increasing demands for better skills.
Proliferation of the cycle of poverty is the true end result of child labor.
It is important to note that the labor activities in which these children and adolescents
are involved are routinely labeled “the worst form of child labor” (International Labor
Organization, 1999). They are, briefly, slavery or similar practices, various forms of
sexual exploitation, illicit activities related to drug dealing, and work that by its nature or
the conditions under which it takes place is harmful to the health, safety or moral wellbeing of the children.
Drug dealing ranks among the worst jobs performed by the youth. The children,
who are motivated by poverty and/or the desire to acquire goods, to help their families,
to be respected and feel important, or simply because they cannot see a future for
themselves in the formal workplace, join established drug-dealing groups who operate
most visibly in the poorest areas of the big cities. Their living conditions are deplorable,
subjecting them to great violence and causing them to drop out of school partially or
completely. In fact, these conditions are analogous to those faced by child soldiers
participating in armed conflicts in other parts of the world (Dowdney, 2003). In spite
of the serious risk inherent in this situation, the demand for this type of work is constant
and the local drug dealers do not need to put a lot of effort into recruiting for these jobs
(Pires and Branco, 2008).
Favela Watch recently conducted a study of 230 children, adolescents and youth
(11-24 year-olds) employed by armed drug-dealing gangs in 34 poor areas located in
the city of Rio de Janeiro. A group of 10 interviewers systematically followed 152 of
the youth. Towards the end of the study, it became evident that job attrition was high:
the number of youth who died was 45 and only 97 remained employed by the drug
dealers. The findings are also very troubling because they reveal the high percentage of
youth not attending school, as high as 93%, and those using drugs (89%). The study also


showed how young the youth are when they first join the gangs – 46% were between
the ages of 11 and 14.
Despite the fact that the majority of the youth interviewed said their biggest dream
was to make a lot of money, data show that 57% earn an average wage of from one to
three minimum salaries ($192 to $578 reais a month). There is a lot of exploitation and
60% of the young men said they work more than 10 hours each day, in shifts of 12 to
24 hours without a break, and 57% said they worked 7 days a week. Only 24% of the
youth thought their lives were satisfying and 40% decided to leave the gang voluntarily.
However, many times the decision to leave does not happen in time to avoid fatal
Each youth who engages in this type of child labor puts his/her life in the line of
fire. However, drug trafficking is not seen, fought or treated by authorities or society as
a mortal threat. Each kid becomes, in the general sense, the feared figure of the “drug
dealer”, public enemy # 1, an ideological category that conceals an entire universe of
oppression, but concretely generally represents offenses that cause little harm.
Most of the kids heard in the aforementioned research worked in activities that did
not require weapons: the “pushers” (sellers) made up 33% of those interviewed and
usually earned very little money. They are part of a group called “shareholders in
nothingness” – a term used by the Norwegian criminologist Christie and adapted to the
Brazilian context by Zaccone (2007). They do not carry guns, do not use violence and
have no support from their factions. They pack and run drugs and are frequently
criminalized, losing their freedom, making their lives and that of their families poorer
and marginalized. They are routinely killed2.
The adoption of new policies that reduced the social state in most of the world
caused uncertainty, demoralization and the break up of social relations (Castel, 2005).
Poor countries were the most affected, and within them, the poorest individuals and
families who were dependent on job programs and welfare, creating a human contingent
that cannot produce or consume much – a world of “disposable” people, a world
made up of human debris (Bauman, 2004). Wacquant (2001) shows the relation between
a minuscule social state and a massive penal one: the tendency to imprison people, even
for minor offenses, is a way to achieve social control, to manage life, perhaps the only
public policy that many will ever experience. This inclination to imprison continues to
grow: More than 300 years after its creation and despite its failure to rehabilitate anyone,
the correctional system is experiencing great expansion.
The trend toward the criminalizing of poverty (Wacquant, 2000, 2001) does not
spare Brazilian youth. The significant numbers of poor young people who are in the
Brazilian social-educational system easily verify this. In theory, the system is supposed to


educate youth offenders aged 12-18. Of the young men and women who were serving
time in the aforementioned system in 2003, 12.7% were from families who had no
income at all, and 66% from families who earned up to two monthly minimum wages
(Silva e Gueresi, 2003) – these are prisons for destitute youth. These facilities are not
operating under satisfactory conditions: despite the efforts of SINASE (National System
of Social-Educational Service, 2006) to ensure proper social-educational measures,
physical abuse is still a reality in many of the institutions.
A good way to gauge the breadth of the process of criminalizing youth is the fact
that the number of adolescents in confinement increased by 363% in 10 years. However,
national statistics show that the percentage of homicides remained the same, staying
around 19% of offenses committed by youth. Most of the crimes committed by
adolescents are against property, and not against life (Rizzini, Zamora and Klein, 2008).
A large number of these youths, whom the Justice system holds responsible for
their offenses, have no stable frame of reference (we are deliberately avoiding using the
term “unstructured families” and others that place a moral judgment on parents and
relatives), live in abject poverty and are virtually invisible in their family units and socially.
They have earned very little space in the world of the polis, a world that, after all, should
belong to all of us.
How can young people find their identity without acknowledgement from the other?
Is committing offenses the only way to be acknowledged? It is possible to see certain
types of offenses – such as disobeying detention centers rules – with a different gaze, a
gaze that avoids the pathologization, predictability and the ideological explanations
originating in large part from the media. Many times, destructive acts are a way for
young people to demand something, even if only their visibility and the expression of
their rebellion (Vicentin, 2005).
The approach towards social inequality and the marginalization of children in Brazil’s
modernity has been one of punitive, backwards, even medieval measures that are above
all, ineffectual. We rely on studies that refer to profiles and tendencies that never consider
the youth’s potential and never point to new solutions. We rely on biologism; a theory
that tends to naturalize the danger posed by the poor and ignores complex factors that
cause criminal activity. Let us remember that youth from the privileged classes have been
increasingly involved in these same activities (Zamora, 2008).
We reject proposed legislation that offers only “more of the same” - there is already
too much violence in the lives of poor youth. We believe in the power of the Child and
Adolescent Statute (Brazil, 1991) which calls for the protection of the human rights of
youth, as these rights are “an extraordinary and fragile triumph. We should protect them
fiercely against those who wish to defeat the immense victory of Brazilian civil society


that was able to, for the first time, envision a future in which Brazilian children and
adolescents enjoy full rights as citizens (Endo, 2007).

Bauman, Zygmunt (2004). Vidas desperdiçadas (Wasted Lives). Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar.
Brasil. ECA - Child and Adolescent Statute (1991). Available (in Portuguese**) at: Accessed on 29/09/2008.
Brasil. SINASE – National System of Socioeducational Services (2006). Available
(in Portuguese**) at: projetodelei.pdf. Accessed on 29/09/2008.
Castel, Robert (2005). A insegurança social: o que é ser protegido? (Social Insecurity:
What it means to be protected) Petrópolis:Vozes.
Dowdney, Luke (2003). Crianças do Tráfico:Um estudo de caso de crianças em
violência armada no Rio de Janeiro (Children of the Drug Traffic: A Case Study of
Children in Organized Armed Violence in Rio de Janeiro). Rio de Janeiro: 7 Letras.
Endo, Paulo (2007). The Many Deaths of João. Electronic Magazine Polêmica, Rio
de Janeiro, UERJ, Issue 19, Jan/March. Available (in Portuguese**) at: http:// Accessed on: 15/01/2008.
Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) (2008). National Household Sample
Survey (PNAD) 2007: First Analysis. Presidential Bulletin #10 – Mercado de trabalho,
trabalho infantile e previdência (The Labor Market, Child Labor and Welfare). IPEA
International Labor Organization (1999) Convention 182 – pertaining to the
Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child
Labor. Available (in Portuguese**) at
Accessed on: 09/05/2008.
Observatório de Favelas (Favela Watch) Favela Watch. (2006). Caminhada de crianças, adolescentes e jovens na rede do tráfico de drogas no varejo do Rio de Janeiro
(March of Children, Adolescents and Youth Employed by the Drug-Trafficking Network
in Rio de Janeiro). Available (in Portuguese**) at http:// vatorio/ arquivos_noticias/file/
Accessed on: 05/05/2007.
Rizzini, Irene; Zamora, Maria Helena; Klein, Alejandro. (2008). O Adolescente em
Contexto (The Adolescent in Context). Brazilian Association of Childhood and Youth
Judges, Prosecutors and Public Defenders, mimeograph. Available (in Portuguese**) at
h t t p : / / w w w. a m c . o r g . b r / n o v o _ s i t e / e s m e s c / a r q u i v o s /


O_Adolescente_em_Contexto.doc. Accessed on: 10/10/2008.
Pires, Sergio F. and Branco, Angela U. (2008). Na rota da violência: crianças em
context armado (In Violence’s Path: Armed Children). Athenea Digital, 13, pgs 153169. Available (in Portuguese**) at
atheneaDigital/article/view/425. Accessed on: 29/09/2008.
Silva, Enid R. and Gueresi, Simone.Adolescentes em conflito com a lei: situação do
atendimento institucional no Brasil (Adolescents in Conflict with the Law: The State of
Institutional Services in Brazil). Brasília: IPEA/Ministry of Justice, 2003.
Vicentin, Maria Cristina. (2005). A vida em rebelião. Jovens em conflito com a lei
(Rebellious Life. Youth in Conflict with the Law. Hucitec, São Paulo.
Waiselfisz, Julio J. Mapa da Violência IV: Os jovens do Brasil—juventude, violencia
e cidadania (Map of Violence IV: Brazilian Youth – Youth, Violence and Citizenship).
Brasília: UNESCO, Ayrton Senna Institute, Special Bureau on Human Rights, 2004.
Wacquant, L. (2000). As prisões da miséria (Prisons of Poverty), Rio de Janeiro:
Jorge Zahar Editor.
Wacquant, L. (2001). Os condenados da cidade (The Condemned of the City). Rio
de Janeiro: Editora Revan/Fase .
Zaccone, Orlando. (2007). Acionistas do nada. Quem são os traficantes de drogas
(Shareholders in Nothingness. Who the Drug Dealers Are). Rio de Janeiro: Editora
Zamora, Maria Helena. (2008). Adolescentes em Conflito com a Lei: um Breve
Exame da Produao Recente em Psicologia (Adolescents in Conflict with the Law: A
Brief Examination of Recent Psychology Papers). Polêmica Electronic Magazine, Rio
de Janeiro, UERJ, Issue 19, Jan-Mar. Available (in Portuguese**): Issue 7 (2) – April/
June 2008. Accessed on: 14/10/2008.



In Brazil, very poor access to work still creates an enormous, historical
debt. Any consideration of the right to work must start with analysis of
the unemployment rate and developments in levels of work—]the different
categories of the employed and unemployed. Moreover, it is essential to
understand the key indicators of union activity, collective bargaining and

The Right to Work in Brazil
Clemente Ganz Lúcio1 and Joana Cabete Biava2
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just
and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration
ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and
supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection
of his interests.
(Article 23. Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations, which
this year celebrates its 60th anniversary, identifies in its 23rd Article that the right to work

Clemente Ganz Lúcio is Technical Director of DIEESE.
Joana Cabete Biava is Associate Technical Director of DIEESE.



is one of the fundamental rights of all human beings. Descending from the tradition of the
French Revolution, the UN Declaration practically reproduces the same article from the
revolutionary French Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789), which deals
with access to and quality of work, just remuneration, social security and the right to organize.
The right to work, understood not only as access to but also as quality of work, is
affirmed by what the International Labour Organization (ILO) calls decent work. The
ILO mandates that decent work “is productive and adequately remunerated, exercised
in conditions of freedom, equality and security, without any forms of discrimination,
and capable of guaranteeing a worthy life to all those who live from their work.” This
principle generates four axes of decent work: creation of quality jobs, social security, the
promotion of social dialogue and respect for the principles and rights of workers
(freedom of association and organization, elimination of forced work and child labour,
and the elimination of discrimination with respect to occupation and income).
In Brazil, very poor access to work still creates an enormous, historical debt. Any
consideration of the right to work here must start with analysis of the unemployment
rate and developments in levels of work—the different categories of the employed and
unemployed. Moreover, it is essential to understand the key indicators of union activity,
collective bargaining and strikes.

The Development of Work and Income
Information about access to work in Brazil has been gathered by several household
research projects which are unique not only in the data gathered, but also in the
methodologies they use to classify specific kinds of involvement in the labor market.
One such study is the Work and Unemployment Research Project (Pesquisa de Emprego e Desemprego, or PED), carried out by the Inter-Union Department of Statistics
and Socioeconomic Study (Departamento Intersindical de Estatística e Estudos
Socioeconômicos or DIEESE), in partnership with the SSDA Foundation (Sistema
Estadual de Análise de Dados or Fundação SEADE), the Ministry of Work and
Employment (Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego or MTE) and with various regional
organizations. The PED introduces specific methodologies which are interesting for the
analysis of qualitative aspects of work and unemployment and that are fundamental for
a wider conception of the right to work in Brazil.
The PED recognizes that beyond those Brazilians who are openly unemployed, there is
a portion of the unemployed population which is hidden from sight. This research project
thus considers laid-off workers who have occasionally been self-employed or who did
non-remunerated work for relatives, but who had nonetheless looked for work in the
previous 12 months (this is called hidden unemployment due to the precarious job market).


The research also considered those individuals who had given up looking for work due
to an inactive job market but who had nonetheless looked for work in the previous 12
months (this is called hidden unemployment due to despondency ).33 The PED was carried out
in the Metropolitan Regions of São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Salvador and Brasilia.

Analysis of unemployment indicators between 1998 and 2007 considers, therefore,
the real spectrum of ways people can be without work. More than two thirds of the
total metropolitan unemployment rate in 2007 (which continued to be high while
diminishing from 18.7% to 15.5% in the analyzed period) was open unemployment and one
third hidden unemployment (Table 1). It is interesting to note that the 17.1% drop in total
unemployment in this period is very differentiated with respect to open versus hidden
unemployment. While open unemployment diminished 10.3%, hidden unemployment
was reduced by 27.5%. Moreover, hidden despondent unemployment fell most (30.4%),
followed by hidden precarious unemployment (26.1%).
The level of total work registered very positive performance, growing 26.3% between
1998 and 2007, demonstrating a rhythm of relatively constant growth (11% between
1998 and 2003 and 13.8% between 2003 and 2007, or an increasing annual average rate
of 2.6%). In absolute numbers, this means that 3.4 million people began working, reaching
a total of 16.4 million in the regions studied by the PED in 20074 (Graph 1).
In 2207 the PIA (Active Age Population, which corresponds to the total of persons 10 years of age or more) in the metropolitan
regions researched came to 31.9 million people and the PEA (Economically Active Population), that portion of the PIA that is in
the job market, either working or not) corresponds to 19.4 million. For the same year, 3 million unemployed are estimated.



Gross incomes (the total of income paid or received by all workers) is differentiated
into two very distinct features. Between 1998 and 2003, gross real incomes fell 17.9%,
but then increased 19.1% in the subsequent period. Average real income, in turn, diminished
26.0% in the first analyzed period, and grew only 4.7% between 2003 and 2007. One
thus notes that gross income improved more than average income. On the other hand,
neither gross nor average income recouped their 1997 levels.
Once employed, the worker is subject to different conditions of work and social
security. One way of measuring these differences is to calculate the ratio of wageearners with work certificates to the total number of workers. In 2007, about 10% of
total workers (or 20% of the wage-earners in the private sector) were without certificates
while 19% were self-employed in the metropolitan regions being researched (Graph 2).
Despite the increase of more precarious forms of participation in the labour market
between 1998 and 2007, individuals with work certificates grew more quickly, mainly in
2003 (26.1%), while the those without work certificates increased 7.5%, while selfemployed work increased 6.0%, between 2003 and 2007.



Developments in Wage Settlements and Strikes
The relative improvement in labour market indicators can also be observed in the
results of collective bargaining. As the SAS/DIEESE (Income Tracking System) data
show, wage settlements in Brazil between 1998 and the first half of 2008 indicate that a
new standard of wage negotiation emerged, marked by the achievement of real gains in
the great majority of collective agreements tracked by SAS.5
Just as was the case with gross and average real incomes, the results of wage
settlements demonstrate the existence of two distinct features (Graph 3). Between 1998
and 2003, with the exception of 2000, settlements achieved above the level of the
Consumer Price Index were always below 50% of the total and were declining year by
year, reaching the worst point in 2003 (18.8% of settlements). Since 2003, on the other
hand, settlements resulting in real gains have grown each year, reaching 87.7% of the
total in 2007. This became possible because of some positive factors that strengthened
the claims of workers: economic growth, low inflation and reduced unemployment
The Income Tracking System records the results of collective bargaining from the middle of the 1990s. As we are dealing with a
statistical sample, we are here using annual results with different bargaining units in each year.



In the first half of 2008, with new increases in the rate of inflation, the results of
negotiations worsened in relation to the two previous years: 73.5% obtained real gains,
12.3% only kept up to inflation and 14.2% settled for increases below the Consumer
Price Index.
Beyond the trend of real gains in wage settlements, this new standard of negotiation
is generalized across differences in various data-bases, geographic regions and employment
sectors. There was also a small though steady emergence of alternative clauses in wage
payments, typical of more difficult negotiations, such as wage scheduling and bonuses.
On the other hand, the results of negotiations between 2004 and 2007 indicate that the
real gains of the minimum wage had not been incorporated to the same degree for
negotiated low wage earners, which had come to concentrate more in the range of
between 1 and 1.5 minimum wages.
In the same period, strikes registered by the SAG/DIEESE (Strike Tracking System)
declined between a 1998 and 2002 and then became relatively stable between 2003 and
2007, with close to 300 annual strikes. It is interesting to notice that this stabilized rate is
much lower than the norm before 1998, when, for example, there were 1,972 strikes in
1989 and 1,782 in 1990 (Graph 4).


Between 1998 and 2007 there were not only significant changes in the number of
strikes but also in their character: a reduction in the number of work stoppages due to
grievances (due to the transgression of rights and the maintenance or renewal of valid
conditions of contracts) and a clear increase in union demands that made new kinds of
proposals. To analyze the development of the two types of claims corresponding to
these positions, we can see that salary arrears were a key reason for strikes in 1998
(demanded in 43% of strikes). This motivation diminished thereafter, declining to 11%
in 2007. Demands for salary increases, present in only 20% of the strikes in 1998, were
already the main reason for strikes even in 2000 (37%) but continued increasing to 49%
in 2007.
Although the databases of the SAS and the SAG do not to correspond to the same
sectors, we perceive a similar trend in their results: improvement in the conditions of the
economy and of the labor market starting in 2003 had a positive impact on the bargaining
power of the workers, who began to prioritize and in fact achieve more and more
significant wage increases.

The persistence of a very high contingent of unemployed people is still one of the
most marked features of the Brazilian labour market in 2007. In the metropolitan
regions researched by the PED there are 3 million unemployed people, of which 2
million are openly unemployed, 663,000 fall in the category of precarious hidden
unemployment and 308,000 in despondent hidden unemployment.


But the failure to guarantee access to work is not the only transgression of the right
to work in Brazil. Inequalities of remuneration in relation to race, gender and region are
well-known, even for identical jobs. In 2007, men in the Federal District (Brasilia) had a
an average wage 3.2 times that of women from Recife (R$ 1,787.00 and R$ 548.00) and
the non-blacks of the Federal Capital received, on average, 3.4 times more than women
in Recife (R$ 1,987 and R$ 591, respectively). Moreover, even though the increase in
value of the minimum wage in recent years has brought it somewhat closer to average
remuneration and defined wage floors from collective bargaining, it is not yet compatible
with what the Federal Constitution requires. In September of 2008, the DIEESE, on
the basis of Article 7 of the Constitution of 1988, calculated that the official minimum
wage (R$ 415.00) corresponded to about 20% of the truly necessary minimum wage
(R$ 1,971.55), which is what is required to care for the basic needs of a family of two
adults and two children.6
Moreover, national data show that in 2007 the persistence of child labour (1.6
million children from 10 to 14 years of age), enslaved labour (six thousand workers
were freed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment) and a large contingent of
workers that are outside the reach of social security (88.2 million workers do not
contribute to social welfare and 15.7 million did not have a work certificate). This shows
that Brazil is still a long way distant from guaranteeing the right to work, whether from
the point of view of rights expressed in the 18th century or currently from the standpoint
of the concept of ‘decent work’ promulgated by the International Labour Organization.

Bibliographical References
DIEESE. Relações e condições de trabalho no Brasil. (Labor Relations and Conditions
in Brazil) São Paulo: DIEESE, 2007.
_____. Sistema de acompanhamento de greves (Strike Tracking System) São Paulo:
DIEESE, 2008.
_____. Sistema de acompanhamento de salários (Salary Tracking System) São Paulo: DIEESE, 2008.
DIEESE; SEADE; MTE; FAT; Convênios Regionais. Pesquisa de emprego e desemprego (Research on employment and unemployment). São Paulo, 2008. Disponível
em: <>. Acesso em: 2008
The minimum wage according to the Constitution is “a nationally consistent minimum wage fixed in law which is capable of
meeting the basic, vital needs of both worker and family, including housing, food, education, health care, clothing, hygiene, leisure,
transportation and social security, periodically readjusted to ensure purchasing power.”



IBGE. Pesquisa nacional por amostra de domicílios (National household sample
research). Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 2008. Disponível em: <>.
Acesso em: 2008
MTE. Ministério do trabalho e emprego (Ministry of Labor and Employment).
Disponível em: <http://>. Acesso em: 2008.
OIT. Organização internacional do trabalho (ILO). Disponível em: <HTTP://>. Acesso em: 2008.


The efforts by social movements and the Black Movement to achieve
human rights and justice for the black population allowed us to advance
and realize some important victories with regard to the drafting of public

Human Rights of the Black Population: 120 years later
Douglas E. Belchior1
On May 13th we celebrated the 120th anniversary of the formal abolition of slavery
in Brazil. October 2008 marks the anniversary of the Brazilian Constitution, enacted on
the 5th day of that month in 1988. “It is not a perfect Constitution, but it will be useful,
pioneering, and exploratory. It will shine a light, even if a little one, on the dark of our
wretched,” said Ulisses Guimarães, president of the Constitutional Assembly, in the act
of promulgation of the new constitution. Now, into the 21st century, we still don’t have
our rights guaranteed.
In this short space for reflection, we will revisit the questions relative to the ethnicracial theme, which seems extremely important to us, on the 120th anniversary of the
establishment of formal and generalized liberty for all citizens, independent of their
origin or ethnicity. In spite of this long period of “liberty,” ethnic-racial discrimination,
economic inequality and poverty still affect black people in Brazil.
The efforts by social movements and the Black Movement to achieve human rights
and justice for the black population allowed us to advance and realize some important
victories with regard to the drafting of public policies. An analysis of the results of these
public policies is important in order to be able to understand the situation of black
people in Brazil.

Douglas Elias Belchior is a Professor of History and Member of the National Coordination of Educafro



It is important to remember that the social situation of the Brazilian black population
was always used to justify racism. Economic and social inequalities have had a strong
ethnic-racial dimension. A simple reading on the evolution of the living conditions of
blacks and whites in the last decades, based on demographic, educational, and labor
market studies, evidences the permanence of conditions of poverty, in addition to the
crystallization of ethnic-racial inequalities.

Racial ideology
The process of constructing “our” Portuguese colony was based on direct utilization
of a widely recognized subjective principle, with practical purposes: racism. However, it
was not on the basis of systematized racist thinking that the valorization of the white
man and his culture was established.
Possessors of a hierarchical and private vision of society, the defenders of slavery
carried a set of negative stereotypes with regard to Black people. The tendency to see a
natural inferiority in black persons contributed to and justified the defense of slavery.
Slavery was the seed that gave birth to Brazilian racism. However, it was in the postabolition period that the theses regarding the biological inferiority of black men and
women gained strength. “Scientific racism” as a racial differentiation thesis gained
recognition among the Brazilian elites starting in the1870s. It was widely accepted in the
decades between 1880 and 1920. Natural inequalities then defended would be the chief
differentiating element among races. The black population would then be marked by
the negative stereotype and by ethnic prejudice.
Such social concepts interfered with the definition of individual potential and carried
over into political and social spaces with the preconceived idea that participation by
black men and women in our society could not be accepted without the existence of
restrictions. Difficulties were accentuated with regard to participation of black men and
women in public spaces, and discriminatory mechanisms were refined. The whitening
of the population, reconciling the belief in white superiority with the attempt to lose
“being black”, influenced State policies.
The absence of public policies for free and ex-slave black men and women is the
principal landmark of this period. To the contrary, there were initiatives that were fundamental in order for integration of black people to be restricted to spaces that were
not valued by society. By way of example of this type of condemnation, we are reminded
of the incentive policy for European immigration, an intense practice—not just by
coincidence—during the same period in which racist ideas became more effective.
The large scale entry by European immigrants into our country is an explicit element,
as already widely considered in our historiography, of the practice of the whitening


ideology, which placed the black population in the substrata of the flourishing free,
salaried labor market. Even before, several government measures made clear the option
for eliminating the black population from the social context. Law No. 601/1850, known
as the Land Law, approved in the same year in which the slave trade was prohibited
(Euzébio de Queiroz Law), it was an important restriction on the possibilities for access
to land by the black population.
The post-abolition period was marked by economic development linked to
urbanization and attempts at development of industry and commerce, especially in the
southeastern region of Brazil. However, the opportunities generated by this development
process were still restricted to the non-black population. The prejudices rooted in white
society after nearly 400 years of slavery ending in constructing an awareness that made
the black worker inferior, which increased expectations with regard to the arrival of
European workers.
The effects of the racial supremacy theses, recognized until the end of the 1920s,
followed by support for another thesis—this one built around cordial and peaceful
relations between European and African ethnicities and consecrated by Gilberto Freire’s
racial democracy ideas—ended up, to the contrary, serving as fuel for the organization
of black resistance, by means of the experimental black theatre of Rio de Janeiro, the
Brazilian Black Front, and other organizations. Organized black resistance continued
until the advent of the dictatorship in the 1960s, when the military prohibited and
persecuted our entities and protests.
The ethnic-racial issue only returned to the national public debate after
redemocratization and reached its pinnacle at the end of the 1980s, when the 100th
anniversary of the abolition of slavery was commemorated in 1988. This is also the year
of the Citizen Constitution, which included among its advances the formalization of the
right to titling of the lands of traditional indigenous and quilombola communities, in
addition to making racism a crime without bail. Thereafter, discussions about the creation
of mechanisms to effectively combat racial discrimination, accompanied by a concern
for achieving real means for social inclusion of this population, took shape and gained

Brazil: the country of camouflaged Apartheid
One hundred and twenty years after formal abolition of slavery in Brazil, the fruit
of the resistance feeds the hope of the black Brazilian population. Contrary to what the
national elites planned, in particular post-abolition, when various actions were implemented
to eliminate or reduce the black presence in Brazil, we can see, in projections by IPEA
(Applied Economics Research Institute) published in May 2008, that this year the black


population will be greater than the white population. After 2010 Brazil will be, therefore,
a country with an absolute majority of black men and women.
According to IPEA projections, in research performed based on data from the
IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), the average income of the black
population will only equal that of the white population by the year 2040, should there be
no change in the public policies currently in effect.
Thus, the incomes of black men and women will only be equal to that of the white
population 32 years from now. Today blacks earn, on average, 53% of the income of
whites. The unemployment rate for blacks is 9.3%, while for whites it is 7.5%. In the
more poorly paid sectors the majority of the workers are black: in agriculture (60.3%),
civil construction (57.9%), and domestic service (59.1%).
There is a common perception that there is ethnic selection in job opportunities at
the mid- and high-prestige job level. Rarely are the bosses or other important positions
held by black men and women. The presence of blacks at the executive level in the
largest Brazilian companies is only 3.5%, according to research by Ibope/Ethos Institute.
The situation of black women is even worse, as they are victimized by double prejudices.
Research by Ibope/Ethos Institute in 2005 shows that black women occupy less than
0.5% of executive positions.
As serious research directed towards the social situation is divulged, the importance
is confirmed of racism and ethnic prejudice as fundamental elements in the division of
social classes in Brazil. The richest 10% of Brazilians hold 75% of that richness, says
IPEA (Folha de SP 15/05/08). At the same time, research entitled “Portrait of
Inequalities,” also by IPEAand UNIFEM, shows that among the poorest 10%, 71% are
black. “There is a whitening of the population as one goes up the social pyramid,” says
Luana Pinheiro, coordinator of the IPEA research.
How is it possible to ignore the discrepancies and effects of racism directed toward a
potentially majority population in our country? How can it be accepted that, in spite of
social and economic advances in our country during the entire 20th century, the black
population has not been attended to with regard to demands as basic as those for education?
Thirty-two years ago, 5% of whites finished college. Graduated blacks were little
more than 0%. In 2006, nearly 5% of blacks graduated from upper division courses.
However, the discrepancy has been maintained, as 18% of whites reached this educational
level. Today, the lack of access by blacks to higher education is one of the main reasons
for social immobility. In spite of some advances in affirmative action policies for blacks,
and quotas at some universities, there is still strong resistance against these policies.
There is still a dominant “white ideology” in our country. In the words of Florestan


“Prejudice and racial discrimination are prisoners of a web of exploitation of man
by man and the bombardment of racial identity is the prelude or prerequisite for
formation of a surplus population destined, en masse, to dirty and ill-paid work.
(Florestan, 1989, p. 28)

O Perfil Social, Racial e de Gênero das 500 Maiores Empresas do Brasil e Suas
Ações Afirmativas (Social, Racial and Gender Profile of the 500 Biggest Firms in Brazil
and Their Affirmative Action Programs) – Research 2005 – FGV-EASP-IPEA-OIT.
REVISTA PSICOLOGIA POLITICA (Political Psychology Review) – A Face
Oculta do Racismo no Brasil: Uma Analise Psicossocilógica (The Hidden Face of Racism
in Brazil: a Psycho-sociological Analysis) – Leoncio Camino, Patrícia da Silva, Aline
Machado e CíceroPereira – 2000.
Desigualidades raciais, racismo e políticas públicas: 120 anos após a abolição (Racial
Inequalities, Racism, and Public Policies: 120 Years After Abolition) – Diretoria de Estudos Sociais (Disoc) – IPEA – 13/05/08.
Info Mensal (Monthly Newsletter) No. 116 – Educafro.
O negro no mundo dos brancos (The Black Man in the White Man’s World) –
Florentan Fernandes.
Sociologia do Negro (Black Sociology) – Clóvis Moura.
Veias Abertas da América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America) – Eduardo Galeano.
A Formação do Povo Brasileiro (Formation of the Brazilian People) – Darcy Ribeiro.
Casa Grande e Senzala (The Masters and the Slaves) – Gilberto Freire.


Besides establishing the curriculum, the State Secretary of Education
implemented measures that intervene directly in the everyday work of
teachers. Financially rewarding the school teams based on student
performance was one of them, thus stimulating competition. Those tied
to the business community defended the logic of the marketplace, which
provides for rewarding the best professionals.

Education, the Market and Human Rights
Mariângela Graciano1 e Sérgio Haddad2
Global financial capitalism entered a crisis in 2008. Nevertheless, the logic of the
market maintains its power and influence in the majority of human relations and their
symbolic universe. Education, a universal human right, is gradually being disputed by
commercial interests.
In spite of recognition by the government of the universal nature of primary
education—Brazil has nearly 98% of 7 to 14 year old children in school, 90% studying
in public schools—the idea has gained strength that private enterprises have as much to
offer as public education, with regard to both expanding access to early childhood,
secondary and higher education (still not yet universal). Today, private universities are
already responsible for 60% of higher education.
The logic of the marketplace enters public education as an example to be followed
for management or as a way to appropriate budgetary resources. The situation of
secondary education is a good example. According to the 2006 National Education
Plan (PNAD), access to secondary education is profoundly unequal. For persons between
the ages of 15 and 17 years, among the 20% poorest only 24.9% were enrolled, while

Mariângela Graciano is the secretary of the NGO Ação Educativa and coordinator of Observatório da Educação (Education Watch).
Sérgio Haddad is general coordinator for the NGO Ação Educativa and President-Director of the Brazilian Foundation for Human Rights.



of the 20% richest, 76.3% attended this level of education. In spite of the constant
increase in the number of people enrolled in schools the Northeast, and the reduction in
the Southeast, for the same age group the indexes are, respectively, 33.1% and 76.3%.
Looking at these statistics from an ethno-racial standpoint demonstrates that only 37.4%
of black youth accessed secondary education in contrast to 58.5% of whites. Of those
living in rural areas, only 27% attend secondary schools, compared to 52% of those
living in urban areas.
The quality of education, assessed by looking at exams, is also marked by inequalities.
The index for the Development of Basic Education (IDEM/2005) was 3.4 for secondary
education nationally. For students of the private system it was 5.6 and for the public
system 3.1. Considering that the scale is from 0 to 10, note that the level of learning is
unsatisfactory for all, but it is noticeably inferior for public schools, which have 89.8%
of the enrollment, 0.82% being the responsibility of the federal government, 86.5% that
of the state, and 1.96% that of municipalities.
In the absence of proposals for public policies, alternatives are gaining ground, such
as that introduced by the Institute of Joint Responsibility for Education, of Pernambuco,
whose proposal has already been implemented in that state and is being introduced in
others in the Northeast. This proposal aims at establishing partnerships between
governments, private companies, and business foundations for the management of the
education system. Financing for the schools, now year-round, stays with the State,
which gives funds to the private sector through investments in physical facilities,
consultancy on new technologies in content, method, and administration.
The initiative, developed and introduced by an intense marketing strategy, has been
pointed out as an alternative to be introduced throughout the entire country, with the
argument of improving student’s performance.
With a strong selective process and control over teachers and students, this initiative
constitutes “islands” within the system, creating particular conditions that are not universal. The strongest idea contained in this proposal is that the problems of education are
fundamentally linked to the quality of public administration, not the financing of education
or the definition of its social function, or even the perverse inequalities that mark Brazilian
society and determine who stays in school and how they stay in school.

The Impact on Teaching
The government reduced policies for improving the quality of education to only
adjustments in administration, and this has a great impact on teaching. In this perspective,
the highlight of 2008 goes to the set of measures implemented in Sao Paulo state’s
education network.


In an attempt to standardize learning across the system, and disregarding the autonomy
of the teaching teams in the schools, the State Secretary of Education (SEE) developed
orientation manuals on curricular content and how it should be used in the classroom.
Teachers have to implement a centralized curriculum, dehumanizing the knowledge and
creativity of the teaching staff.
Besides establishing the curriculum, the State Secretary of Education implemented
measures that intervene directly in their everyday work. Financially rewarding the school
teams based on student performance was one of them, thus stimulating competition.
Those tied to the business community defended the logic of the marketplace which
provides for rewarding the best professionals.
It called attention to the absence of reliable information about the efficacy of these
initiatives to improve the quality of education, especially when not accompanied by
actions like satisfactory salary policies, reorganization of the teaching career in order to
give greater value to teachers’ work in the classroom than to their bureaucratic functions,
organization of mechanisms for allocating lessons, in addition to redeeming their social
image, depreciated by socioeconomic and symbolic devaluation of the profession.
Also very significant in this context was the resistance shown by the administrators
of the richest states, notably São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, to the implementation
of the Piso Salarial Nacional do Magisterio (National Wage Floor for Teachers). The
problem was not the initial value established, but the fact that the legislation presupposes
the extension of remunerated time dedicated to pedagogical work. Clearly the choice
of a corporate management model takes all the intellectual nature of teaching away,
reducing teaching to the repetition of tasks developed outside the context of the
classroom. Thus, the teacher is obliged to maintain a high number of classes for survival.

Testing, Textbooks and the Declaration of 1948
The evaluation goals to be reached are based on pre-established content. So, evaluations
and teaching materials gradually leave the sphere of teaching and enter the hands of socalled specialists, almost all from outside the education system and its daily work.
In order to establish this form of organization, public management encourages an
approach based on private enterprises and the textbook market. In their eagerness to
make their students achieve the scores pre-established by the evaluations, administrators
are contracting private companies that specialize in the production of textbooks and
educational administration.
Besides the gradual model of privatization, such procedures risk reducing education
to training only for exams, at odds with the purposes of education, as pertains to the
dimensions of access and quality set forth in the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.


That document, celebrating its 60th year, establishes that education has to be orientated
toward the complete development of the human personality of teachers and students,
strengthening respect for the rights of all persons and the promotion of peace. With
respect to quality, it affirms the right of participation in the cultural and scientific assets
socially produced by humanity.
And, more importantly, the logic of the marketplace is antagonistic to the universality
of the right to education. Embracing market logic means deepening the inequalities that
structure Brazilian society. Expecting private enterprise to equip school units is to condemn
traditional populations in the countryside to lack of schools or, at best, to uncertain
access, as there is no market interest in such units. Changing teaching into alienated work,
with repetitive content defined outside of the everyday activities of the school, and
emptied of its creative work, is to transform teaching into a piece of machinery that
only produces technical results, whose logic is competition and not concerned with
human rights. To measure students only by their performance on tests that are defined
outside of the school is to exclude those who, for various reasons, do not develop the
skills required in manuals, as the logic of the market cannot waste time with “poorly
made pieces.”
In short, the logic of the marketplace is opposed to universal, public, free education
that is geared toward the production of knowledge, and the peaceful and just coexistence
of all people. It is this logic that we see being gradually implemented in the Brazilian
educational system.


The agenda of the Brazilian government to expand the production of
agrofuels has created impacts on the ability of rural communities to access
the right of adequate food. This is proven by the fact that the
concentration and price of land is increasing in different regions of the
country, displacing traditional populations from their native land.

The Human Right to Adequate Food in Brazil
Enéias da Rosa1 and Sofia Monsalve2

The Human Right to Adequate Food (DHAA): a legal and
conceptual landmark
According to General Observation #12 from the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee (CDESC), DHAA is fulfilled “when every man,
woman, and child, alone or in a community, has physical and economic access at any
moment to adequate food or the means to obtain it.” The CDESC identifies the basic
elements that make up the DHAA as the following:
1. Availability of food: directly, exploiting productive land or other natural resources.
2. Availability of food: through distribution, processing, and market systems that
have the capacity to transport food from the place of production to where there is
demand and need.
3. Economic accessibility to food: this implies that the financial cost associated
with the acquisition of food should not surpass a determined cost limit, which also
guarantees that other basic necessities are satisfied and are not threatened. Economic
accessibility should be applied to any standard of food acquisition.
Enéias da Rosa is the Secretary General of FIAN Brasil.
Sofia Monsalve is the Land Program Coordinator of FIAN International. Cf. also FIAN/TNI. 2008. Agrocombustibles y derecho
a la alimentación en América Latina. Realidad y amenazas. (Agrofuels and the right to food in Latin America. Reality and
threasts. Amsterdam.



4. Physical accessibility to food: this implies that food should be accessible to
everyone, including physically vulnerable people, those who have difficulty feeding
themselves, victims of natural disasters, and other groups that depend on a connection
with a specific territory for their sustenance (indigenous people, shepherds, and others).
5. Sustainability of availability and access to food: food security in the long
term:- Sustainable use of natural resources which are necessary for food production.Economic sustainability: income and price of food.
6. Adequacy: this does not refer only to quantity but also to quality, which should
be in keeping with human physiological necessities at the different stages of life. Food
should be culturally adequate and acceptable.
7. Principles of human rights: universality, indivisibility, interdependence, equality
and non discrimination, priority attention to vulnerable groups, participation and inclusion,
transparency, and accountability.
The right to adequate food, like any other human right, imposes three types or levels
of obligation on nation-states at the national level: the obligations to respect, protect,
and carry it out. The obligation to respect existing access to adequate food requires
nation-states to avoid adopting any measures that destroy or make access more difficult.
The obligation to protect requires the State to guard against companies or private
institutions from depriving people of access to adequate food. The obligation to carry
out means the State should actively strengthen the population’s access to, as well as
utilization of, resources and means. This way, the State has obligations outside its borders
for which they must adopt measures to respect and protect the enjoyment of the right
to food security in other countries.
Due to the growing influence of transnational corporations in the economy of the
majority of countries and international economic relations, the United Nations’ human
rights protection system began to discuss the responsibility of these companies regarding
human rights. The norms for the responsibility of transnational corporations and other
commercial companies in the sphere of human rights adopted by the UN Subcommission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights establish that States have a
primary responsibility to guarantee human rights established in international and national
legislation, including assuring that transnational corporations and other commercial
companies respect human rights within their respective spheres of activity and influence.
They have the obligation to promote and protect human rights established in international
rights and national legislation, including the rights and interests of indigenous people and
other vulnerable groups. The norms explicitly stipulate that transnational corporations
must respect economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, and
should be active in fulfilling the rights to adequate food, health, and housing, among


others, and should abstain from any act that prevents the fulfillment of these rights.
In the scope of legal and conceptual landmarks, it is worth mentioning that Brazil is
a signatory of all international Human Rights treaties. This presumes that the State of
Brazil should take all precautions and measures to preserve and carry forward the
commitments assumed, be they in general, relating to Human Rights, or be they related
to the specifics of these pacts which refer to different rights. In the case of the Human
Right to Adequate Food, the commitments assumed by Brazil are very clear and,
therefore, it is worth attempting a brief analysis of some aspects of the food security
crisis, its relation to the expansion of agrofuels production in Brazil, and the risks that
these aspects pose to the guarantee of this right.

The food crisis
The year 2008 merely confirmed what many estimates predicted about the risks to
food security, and the guarantee of the human right to adequate food on a global level,
with specific reflections in different countries, and this phenomenon was titled the food
security crisis. In the center of the so-called food security crisis there are different aspects
that should be taken into consideration. Among these is the reduction of the capacity of
national governments to regulate their agricultural policies, and the lack of support for
local peasant agriculture. Many times this happens because of the strong influence of
large international conglomerates in the food sector.
In the case of Brazil, there was no significant progress on agrarian reform. The government
has prioritized incentives for large companies, such as lines of credit for production,
industrialization, and commercialization. The way to address hunger and food insecurity,
which still affect a significant portion of the population, has been based on programs such as
the “Family Stipend” (Bolsa Família), which do not solve structural inequalities. It is still
important to emphasize that there is one positive inter-institutional action by the Brazilian
government, which is the National Council on Food and Nutrition Security.
On the other hand, agribusinesses continue to be strong and growing in the country,
relying on the availability of public and private credit as has never been seen before,
which has increased the control, expansion, and appropriation of productive and
cultivatable land resources. As a result, we have witnessed many situations of displacement
of traditional populations and peasant communities, with violent evictions, criminalization
of grassroots and human rights movements, destruction of local production, and growing
dependence on food imports. These elements contribute to the food crisis.
The expansion agrofuel production is at the center of this crisis. This scenario gained
attention in 2008 because of the challenges that have arisen regarding energy generation
and food production at the global level. Some of the issues discussed were the growth


of energy demand, the reduction in fossil fuel reserves, and the high financial and political
cost of extraction and control, primarily of petroleum and its derivatives; and the agenda surrounding the debate over the climate crisis and global warming, which is not a
new issue at all.
In Brazil’s case what we have seen in recent years is the vast expansion of monocropping (mainly soy and sugarcane) in response to the global energy crisis, and this
creates clear contradictions. The government has increased support for national and
international private companies for the massive expansion of agrofuels. The Brazilian
government’s agenda is based on large-scale production of ethanol and agrodiesel.
The agenda of the Brazilian government to expand the production of agrofuels has
created impacts on the ability of rural communities to access the right of adequate
food. This is proven by the fact that the concentration and price of land is increasing in
different regions of the country, displacing traditional populations from their native
land. We also see a high degree of labor violations connected to the difficulty on accessing
the right to food. The use of grains and raw materials to produce agroenergy generated
an increase in the price of foods that make up the basic diet of the population, especially
in the poorest communities33 Cf. FIAN, et al. 2008. Os Agrocombustíveis no Brasil
(Agrofuels in Brazil). Report of the Investigative Mission on the impact of the public
policy on agrofuel incentives on the enjoyment of the human rights to nutrition, work,
and the environment, of the farming and indigenous communities and rural laborers in

Challenges to the Human Right to Adequate Food (DHAA)
The production of agroenergy is based on crops that were traditionally used as
food. In Brazil, the expansion of agrofuel production is advancing very rapidly. This
requires large amounts of land and water, and creates direct competition for necessary
resources to feed people. Low-income communities in rural and urban don’t have
adequate access to food. They also lack an adequate sewage system in order to live
healthy lives.
Brazil is a member of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and has legally binding obligations to carry out the DHAA. Thus, secure
access and control of land and other natural resources to produce food should be
guaranteed to poor rural communities and populations. Likewise, urban populations
should be guaranteed access to income—above all through the guarantee of work
opportunities—to guarantee their DHAA. Furthermore, Brazil, like other nations, should


implement policies that promote adequate and sufficient availability of foods at the
local and national level, and it should guarantee that food be economically accessible to
the entire population.
Brazil, like all other nations, should regulate its economy and markets in accordance
with these obligations, and should not create incentives that put fulfillment of DHAA or
any other human right at risk. Effective fulfillment of DHAA cannot be compromised
by the interests of large corporations.
Keeping in mind State obligations outside Brazil, these criteria should also be applied
in the case of incentives for such projects abroad, to avoid having public Brazilian
resources contribute to the violations of human rights in other countries.


In 2008, the populations of Caetité (46,192 inhabitants) and Lagoa Real
(13,795 inhabitants) faced a tragic reality, as a consequence of the harmful
socio-environmental impacts caused by uranium extraction. It was the
year in which the publishing of research reinforced the position of workers
who, since 2001, have been calling foran Independent Auditor’s Office to
inspect the operations of Brazilian Nuclear Industries (INB).

The Dangers of Uranium Extraction
Zoraide Villasboas1
The eighth anniversary of the establishment of the Uranium Concentrate Unit (URA/
Caetité), located at 750 km from Salvador, the capital of Bahia, also known as the
Lagoa Real Project, will never be forgotten. Not because of the customary celebration
by the leadership of Brazilian Nuclear Industries (INB), but because of one more
overflow of radioactive liquid, highly dangerous for human life and the environment,
which soaked the soil in the industrial area in June of that year.
INB considers this type of accidents to be routine operational events. This was true
in the case of the leak of nearly 5,000 m3 of uranium liquor in 2000, when the tailings
pond isolation blankets broke. The company tried to hide this accident, and even talked
about sabotage. The accident was only admitted to three years later, when the National
Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), responsible for promotion and supervision of
nuclear and radioactive activities in Brazil, claimed that the damages were insignificant.
In other words, the release into the soil of 5,000 m3 of radioactive liquor was characterized
as a “mere operational event.”

Zoraide Vilasboas is the Communications Coordinator of the Paulo Jackson Movement Association – Ethics, Justice, Citizenship.



The same was true in 2004, when the particulate retention basin of the mine pit
overflowed seven times, releasing liquid containing concentrates of uranium-238, torium232, and radium-226. In this case, the CNEN inspectors suggested suspension of
operations and non-renewal of the Initial Operating Authorization2 CNEN did not
accept this recommendation in order to avoid financial damages, maintaining INB in
operation in spite of the noted risk. This recommendation resulted in the dismissal of
two radioprotection inspectors.
In 2008, the populations of Caetité (46,192 inhabitants) and Lagoa Real (13,795
inhabitants) faced a tragic reality, as a consequence of the harmful socio-environmental
impacts caused by uranium extraction. It was the year in which the publishing of research
reinforced the position of workers who, since 2001, have been calling foran Independent
Auditor’s Office to inspect the operations of Brazilian Nuclear Industries (INB).
Brazil has the sixth largest reserve of uranium in the world. In Bahia, the mine is
located between the municipalities of Caetité and Lagoa Real. It comprises the São
Francisco and Rio de Contas Hydrographic Basins, which include 63 municipalities, and
drains into the ecological region of Atlantic Forest at Itacaré, on the coast.
The uranium is exported to Canada and Europe (Germany, Holland, and the United
Kingdom). Since 2005, INB has requested a license from IBAMA to access underground
mines with the goal of doubling its production. But this would mean doubling the
impacts of nuclear waste.
Among the problems threatening the population and the environment is pollution
by radioactive substances and water contamination. The Study of Environmental
Contamination by Uranium in the Municipality of Caetité concluded that the local
population were facing environmental and heath problems arising from the activities of
the uranium mining company. The average for incorporation of radionuclides (atoms
that emit radiation) for the Caetité residents is 52.3 ppb (particles per billion). This index
is 100 times greater than that of Igaporã (neighboring municipality). The study determined
that the population of Caetité “are subject to radiobiological risks, which are much
greater than those of the populations in other regions, both elsewhere in the nation and
in the rest of the world. This circumstance can lead to serious health problems, such as
In 2008, Greenpeace released the publication “Ciclo do Perigo – Impactos da Produção de Combustível Nuclear no Brasil” (Cycle of Danger – Impacts of the Production
Report of the Commission on the Environment and Sustainable Development of the Chamber of Deputies regarding Nuclear
Inspection and Security, Brasilia (03/2006).
“Estudo de Contaminação Ambiental por Urânio no Município de Caetité-Ba, Utilizando Dentes Humanos como Bioindicadores”
(Study of Environmental Contamination by Uranium in the Municipality of Caetité, Bahia, Using Human Teeth as BioIndicators), Geórgia R. Prado, State University of Santa Cruz – UESC (2007).



of Nuclear Fuel in Brazil), which denounced radioactive contamination in soil and water
in the region. Samples of water used for human and animal consumption were analyzed
by an independent laboratory contracted by Greenpeace Research Laboratory at Exeter
University in the United Kingdom, which found isotopes1 of uranium, torium, and
lead, due to the uranium mining activities. Two samples showed contamination well
above the maximum indices suggested by the World Health Organization (0.015 mg/L)
and by the National Council on the Environment (CONAMA) (0.02 mg/L).4 Water
collected from an artesian well about 8 km from the mine showed uranium concentrations
seven times greater than the maximum limits indicated by WHO, and five times greater
than those indicated by CONAMA. Another sample, collected from a faucet that pumps
water from the artesian wells in the area of direct influence of INB, had twice the limit
established by WHO.
Another problem is the lack of transparency of INB, which does not maintain a
dialogue with local communities. INB violates the UN’s International Covenant on
Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. In order to denounce this situation, grassroots
organizations are promoting discussions with local communities impacted by the uranium
mine. Their main recommendations included an independent inspection of INB, and
that IBAMA does not issue a License for Expansion of URA Operations. They demanded
the inclusion of an epidemiological study in the region by the State Secretary of Health
of Bahia – SESAB. In addition, they submitted a proposal to the Attorney General for
the creation of a Working Group to review the Brazilian Nuclear Program.

Ciclo de Perigo-Impactos da Produção de Combustível Nuclear no Brasil – Denúncia: Contaminação da Água por Urântio em
Caetité , Bahia (Cycle of Danger-Impacts of Nuclear Fuel Production in Brazil – Claim: Water Contamination by Uranium in
Caetité, Bahia), Greenpeace (16/10/08).



In Latin America, the United States resumed military activities, such as
the so-called UNITAS Operation – a naval training in the coastal territory
of Brazil and Argentina. This mega operation included the nuclear carrier
George Washington, with a transport capacity of up to 10 nuclear bombs.
Starting July 1, 2008, the Fourth Fleet was reactivated, a naval unit of the
United States that will act in the Caribbean, Central America, and South
America, in a region that covers more than 30 countries.

The Last Year of the Bush Era
Maria Luisa Mendonça1
The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States generated
great hope, in the direction of a possible shift in the overseas policy of that country.
It cannot be foreseen whether the content of his speeches will be translated into
concrete changes. However, for the first time since the Cold War period, a U.S.
presidential candidate (Republican or Democrat) has not used the ideology of an
external enemy as a central arm of the campaign. This symbolism is extremely
important, as it was used to justify the militaristic policy that the country has exercised
for many decades.
We can cite the occupation of Korea, which set the politics of the post war
period in 1945, followed by support to a succession of military coups in Latin
America, beginning in 1954 in Guatemala, the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba (1961),
the Vietnam War (1964-1973), the military coup in Indonesia (1965), the invasion of
Grenada (1983), the bombing in Syria (1986), the invasion of Panama (1989), the
occupation of Haiti (1994), the war in Somalia (1994), the Gulf War (1991), through

Maria Luisa Mendonça is a journalist and coordinator of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights.



the more recent invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), just to cite some
examples. This list is in truth much longer and can be translated into millions of
dead or injured.
In his nomination speech, during the Democratic Party’s Convention, on
August 28, Barack Obama repeated the phrase of Martin Luther King: “We cannot
walk alone,” and affirmed that the country’s internal security depends on a
transformation in its foreign relations. During the campaign, Obama declared
that “Iraq has nothing to do with the attempts of September 11th,” and proposed
that the United States should stop depending on oil from the Middle East.
Other proposals presented by Obama are to guarantee social security (health
and welfare) and education (from pre-school through university) for all the
population, increasing taxes on large companies and lowering taxes on workers.
Symbolically, he has redeemed the idea of the “American Dream,” but in a different
form. In the liberal conception, this ideology serves to stimulate individualism
and the mentality of the “self-made man,” where what counts is force of personal
will, since the economic system is perfect and there is no inequality. According to
this concept, if you are unemployed, ill, or homeless, the problem is yours.
In his speeches, Obama recognizes the economic inequalities that exist in the
United States, and proposes another type of “American dream,” where the State
is responsible for providing conditions for all people to live with dignity.
Remembering his childhood in Chicago, Obama cites unemployed workers as
“heroes.” He also defends equal pay and equitable job opportunities for men and
Only time will tell if these proposals will be realized, because there are objective
obstacles, such as very economic dependency of the war industry, besides the
conservative ideology that remains in Obama’s own discourse, principally when
the theme is the “security” of Israel. There are also objective limits to the
“inheritance” left by Bush, which guaranteed an increase of 70 billion dollars in
the military budget to finance actions in Iraq and Afghanistan during the fiscal
year which began October 1, 2008. Since 2001, the military expenditures of the
United States in those countries are estimated to be close to 800 billion dollars.

Naval Militarization
In Latin America, the United States resumed military activities, such as the so-called
UNITAS Operation – a naval training in the coastal territory of Brazil and Argentina.
This mega operation, begun on May 5th, included the nuclear carrier George Washington, with a transport capacity of up to 10 nuclear bombs.


Starting July 1, 2008, the Fourth Fleet was reactivated, a naval unit of the United
States that will act in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, in a region
that covers more than 30 countries. Several squadrons may act on the seas, along the
coastline, in coastal or river regions.
The Fourth Fleet was created in 1943, during the Second World War, to patrol the
South Atlantic, and was deactivated in 1950. The current version will have large scale
military equipment, including nuclear weapons. The operations, directed from Florida,
will be under the command of the North American Navy and of the Southern
Command, a unit of the Pentagon that acts in Latin America and the Caribbean.
According to official Pentagon communiqués, the objective is “to combat terrorism
and illicit activities such as narcotics traffic,” besides “sending a message to Venezuela
and the rest of the region.”
These actions are political in nature, as they seek to destabilize the governments of
Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia, but principally they seek to guarantee control of energy
resources, such as petroleum and natural gas. In Brazil, the recent discoveries of enormous
oil reserves in the Pre-Salt layer represent a significant element in this scenario.
The strategy of mapping natural resources extends to territories that are, geopolitically,
“without importance.” In Africa, the Pentagon intends to form the African Command—
the new version of the Central Command, created by former President Ronald Reagan
in the 1980s, to guarantee control of oil in the Persian Gulf. One of those responsible
for the operation, Admiral Robert Moeller, stated that “Africa is of increasing geostrategic
At the same time, traditionally controlled regions, such as the North Atlantic, the
Mediterranean, and the Northeast of the Pacific Ocean, should gain military
reinforcement. In February, the Bush government asked Congress for approval of an
additional budget for the construction of new naval nuclear arms, warships, and
The new face of the National Security Doctrine of the United States had two
characteristics: expansion of operations that guarantee “maritime security,” with the
objective of controlling strategic commercial routes, and territorial monitoring. These
actions are aimed at guaranteeing security for U.S. companies, in addition to mega
infrastructure projects, with the objective of monopolizing territories and natural assets.

Plan Colombia
Plan Colombia was constructed to serve as a regional military platform and, at
times, the U.S. government tried to involve the Southern Cone countries in this conflict.
In March 2008, the government of Álvaro Uribe violated Ecuadorian territory in order


to justify the escalation of armed conflicts in his own country, since his “combating
terrorism” jargon served to reinforce a policy of repression, as well as the military
presence of the United States in the region.
The beginning of Plan Colombia, in August 2000, coincided with increased violence
against the civil population, particularly the leadership of social movements. In January
2001 alone, there were at least 27 massacres, in which nearly 200 civilians were killed.
The organization Washington Office on Latin America, estimates that, since the beginning
of Plan Colombia, the average number of deaths in combat and political assassinations
has increased, amounting to 14 persons a day. At least 78% of the massacres that have
occurred since 1999 have been carried out by paramilitary groups.
The supposed “war against drugs” also served to force indigenous peoples and
peasants from their lands. More than a million hectares of Colombian forest have already
been contaminated by chemical agents used in fumigation by the Colombian army, with
the pretext of combating cocaine cultivation. The result has been a massive migration
of peasant and indigenous communities. It is estimated that the number of internal
refugees in Colombia exceeds three million persons. One of the modifications in the
legislation proposed by Uribe establishes that the lands from which peasants are displaced
can be transferred, which serves as justification for legalizing forced evictions and
transferring land to large companies.
The government utilizes the war to restrict civil rights. The Colombian constitution
is the fruit of social movements’ struggles that took place in 1991, and preserves collective
rights, such as those of indigenous peoples. The reform proposed by Uribe would
eliminate the action of guardianship for collective rights, besides giving judicial functions
to the Army, such as orders for search and seizure, prisons, and powers to intercept
communications. It is also aimed at restricting the right of habeas corpus and increasing
prison time without justification, in order to hide frequent cases of torture and
The war in Colombia has been supported by the United States for decades. In the
Cold War era, the US identified Colombia as a strategic country, due to its geographic
location and its natural resources. This period is known as “The Violence,” in the 1950s,
when nearly 200,000 persons were killed. Since then, the actions of death squads have
helped to keep conservative governments in power.
In 1962, during the presidency of John Kennedy, General William Pelham
Yarborough, Army Commander of the United States at the Special Warfare School,
began to train foreign troops in “unconventional tactics.” On returning from a mission
in Colombia, he affirmed in a report that his purpose was “to select civil and military
personnel for clandestine operations, to act as counter-insurgents, execute counter-pro202


paganda tasks, and, if necessary, perform paramilitary activities of sabotage and terrorism
against candidates known to be communists.”
From the beginning of Plan Colombia, the country has received 4 billion dollars in
“military aid.” The largest contingent of foreign officials trained in the United States,
including at the School of the Americas, has been Colombian. At the same time, drug
trafficking has increased in the United States, stimulated by prices lower than what they
were prior to Plan Colombia.
Beginning in 2002, Colin Powell guaranteed an additional appropriation of 731
million dollars to finance the participation of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru in Plan
Colombia. The role of Ecuador was central, principally because the United States used
the structure of the Manta Base, with capability of controlling the air space of the
Amazon region, the Panama Canal, and Central America.
The election of President Rafael Correia interrupted Ecuador’s support for Plan
Colombia, as one of his chief measures was to announce that he would not renew the
agreement with United States for control of the Manta Base. The election of President
Evo Morales in Bolivia and the shift in foreign policy of that country meant an additional
problem for the U.S. government, which began to stir up a campaign by the separatist
right to overthrow the Bolivian government.

The Role of Brazil
The Brazilian government, as well as all of the countries of Latin America, condemned
the invasions of Ecuadorian territory by Colombia, which was likewise officially censured
at a meeting of the OAS (Organization of American States).
However, it is difficult to explain the position of the governments of Brazil and
Argentina, which participated in the UNITAS operation and authorized military training
by the United States in their territorial waters. There is no question of naivety in these
agreements; the repressive nature of this policy is clear. Additionally, there are other
fronts of military collaboration with the United States, such as in the occupation of
Haiti. This year, the Brazilian government asked for approval by the National Congress
to increase its military infrastructure in Haiti.
In Brazil, the idea of “development” based on large energy and mining projects
generates violence against rural communities. National and transnational corporations
advance rapidly, both in the Amazon region and in areas previously thought of as
“inhospitable,” such as the cerrado and the semi-arid regions. The government’s insistence
on a mega-project to alter the course of the São Francisco River is an example of this
policy because, contrary to what the official propaganda says, the semi-arid region is
rich in minerals, biodiversity, and water.


The expansion of agro-energy production imposes ever greater pressure for control
of natural assets, such as land and water. This scenario aggravates economic instability,
and leads to a growing increase in the prices of essential products, such as foodstuffs. In
this context, the risk increases for repression of social movements fighting for selfdetermination and control of their territories.


The concept of IIRSA is to ensure maximum speed in the circulation of
agricultural and mineral products in order to fully enjoy the “comparative
advantages” of the South American region1. It’s not a project of true
integration that reinforces contacts and exchanges among peoples, but
rather the installation of immense corridors to drain away raw materials
for Europe, North America, and Asia.

IIRSA and the financial Crisis: a Chance for
Reflection, Discussion and Resistance
Igor Fuser2
At a time of uncommon sincerity among the manipulators of the delicate connection
between politics and money on an international scale, the Uruguayan Enrique Iglesias,
president of the Interamerican Development Bank for 17 years, stated that the decisive
factor for the financing of projects that are grouped in the Initiative for Integration of
the South American Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA) was the “excessive liquidity” in the
capital markets – and not evidently the Boliviarian dream of regional integration like
that which, even today, government administrations of diverse ideologies are preaching.
In other words, the massive construction of roads, ports, gas-lines, hydroelectric plants
and dams would constitute an attractive destination for a share of the fabulous quantity
of money in the hands of multinational corporations and financial institutions, if there
were no equivalent stock of business investment opportunities with immediate returns.
Herbas Camacho, Gabriel, and Molina, Silvia, “IIRSA y La Integración Regional“ IIRSA and Regional Integration), in
Observatorio Social de América Latina, Year VI, nº 17, May-August 2005, pp. 307-316. Buenos Aires: Clacso.
Igor Fuser is a journalist, professor at the Cásper Líbero University and at the Centro Universitário Belas Artes, with a PhD in
Political Science from the University of São Paulo (USP) and author of the book Petróleo e Poder – O envolvimento militar dos
Estados Unidos no Golfo Pérsico (Petroleum and Power – the Military Involvement of the United States i the Persian Gulf) (Unesp,



Now that the bubble of liquidity has burst, the future of IIRSA will remain uncertain
until the twists and turns of the world crisis of capitalism and of the economic recession
that will accompany it become clearer. The large-scale works that are already under way
will certainly continue, perhaps at a slower pace, in accordance with the availability of
credit of their sponsoring organizations: the National Economic Development Bank
(BNDES), the Andean Promotion Corporation (CAF), and the River Plata Basin
Development Fund (FONPLATA). In the last instance, everything will depend on the
dimensions of the global collapse and its impact in Latin America. Thus, we are entering
an opportune phase for discussion about which integration model best serves the needs
of the kind of development that improves living standards, advances toward a more
just society, and preserves the environment.
The survival of IIRSA, absolutely unchanged, in the midst of all the changes on the
South American political scene in this decade is a paradox that illustrates the contradictions
and the limits of the progressive forces in the region. The project was launched in 2002,
in a meeting of all the South American presidents in Brasília at the invitation of Fernando
Henrique Cardoso. Its stated goal was the integration of transportation, energy, and
communications. Since then, IIRSA has implemented a strategy that makes it possible
for South America to be integrated into the globalized economy in a way that is absolutely
consistent with neo-liberal logic.
The region is viewed as furnishing farm products, raw materials, and energy resources
for the dynamic centers of capitalism. According to IIRSA’s web site, the purpose is “to
promote infrastructure development based on a regional vision, attempting to physically
integrate the South American countries and to achieve equitable and sustainable territorial
development” 3. More than 300 projects are planned in the next 20 years, with an investment
of around $38 billion. These projects are grouped around ten “axes of integration” – in
essence, corridors aimed at facilitating the export of primary goods for the markets of
developed countries.
The concept of IIRSA is to ensure maximum speed in the circulation of
agricultural and mineral products in order to fully enjoy the “comparative advantages”
of the South American region4. It’s not a project of true integration that reinforces
contacts and exchanges among peoples, but rather the installation of immense corridors
to drain away raw materials for Europe, North America, and Asia.
Everything is happening exactly as the Marxist geographer David Harvey describes
in his study on “accumulation by plunder” – the incessant process by which capitalism
Herbas Camacho, Gabriel, and Molina, Silvia, “IIRSA y La Integración Regional“ (IIRSA and Regional Integration), in
Observatorio Social de América Latina, Year VI, nº 17, May-August 2005, pp. 307-316. Buenos Aires: Clacso.



incorporates territories that were previously not income-producing , as sources for the
generation and appropriation of wealth5.
With the rise of progressive governments in South America, the partisans of IIRSA
have substituted the rhetoric of “open regionalism” – the password for the neoliberal
opening up of the region’s economies – with a discourse about development. So the
real need to improve the physical connections among the countries has turned into the
usual argument for IIRSA, without any change in the content of the projects or in the
methods adopted for their implementation. In many cases, the exchange of neoliberal
authorities for others, more identified with the forces of the left, contributed only to
diluting resistance. Even so, a large number of social movements, political groups, and
NGOs have remained firm in their resistance. Besides denouncing the strategy that
permeates the whole undertaking, they denounce the social, economic, and environmental
impact of the IIRSA projects, which have been designed without taking into account
the needs of the populations affected by the projects.
The developmentalist rhetoric does not succeed in hiding the fact that IIRSA is part
of the same logic of the last two decades, of privatization and of opening up to trade.
Its projects will increase the dependence of South America in relation to imperialism,
will worsen the imbalance among the South American countries and in the interior of
each country – and in this process will speed up the draining away of valuable natural
resources to the detriment of future generations. The majority of the projects are located
in regions of rich biodiversity, fragile ecosystems, and with populations that are extremely
vulnerable to environmental changes. However much the projects are called “sustainable”,
the environmental impact is undeniable, and in some cases, devastating. The hydroelectric
plants and dams change the system of waters in the rivers, affecting fish and threatening
the extinction of a large number of aquatic species. The roads inevitably lead to
deforestation of areas that go beyond the margins of the roads, not to speak of the
collateral effects such as uncontrolled immigration and environmental pollution. It’s
symptomatic in this picture that since 2006, the Inter-oceanic Highway has been approved,
financed, and is being built without first carrying out an environmental impact study.
According to a study by the Work Group of Peruvian Civil Society6, in 10 years the
region – one of the richest in the world in terms of biodiversity and until recently in a
good state of preservation – will confront all the sore spots that customarily accompany
the building of highways. With one thing worse: the road will cross an area where
Harvey, David. O Novo Imperialismo (The New Imperialism). Translation by Adail Sobral e Maria Stela Gonçalves. São Paulo:
Edições Loyola, 2004.
Dourojeanni, Marc, “A Estrada Interoceânica no Peru” (The Inter-oceanic Highway in Peru), in O Eco, 30/6/2006, http://



various groups of indigenous people live in voluntary isolation, which will be especially
affected by the degradation of their surroundings.
In the technocratic language of the IIRSA planners, geographical accidents like the
Andes and the Amazon Forest are seen as “barriers”, natural impediments to be
“overcome” in the name of progress7. As for the natural resources, they are transformed
into “stocks”, reserves of commodities to be negotiated on the futures market. In the
Brazilian Amazon region, which has its territory included in four of the “axes of
integration”, the influence of the projects will be extended by 2.5 million hectares, reaching
107 indigenous lands, whose residents represent 22% of the indigenous population of
Brazil. Another 484 priority areas for the conservation of biodiversity will also be affected.
The title of a recent study by the NGO International Conservation gives an idea of
what is at stake: “A Perfect Storm in the Amazon Jungle: Development and Conservation
in the Context of IIRSA” 8. Its author, the North-American scientist Tim Killeen, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, evaluated the impact of the new
transportation, energy, and telecommunications projects and concluded that they may
destroy a large part of the Amazon’s tropical forest in the next few decades. Killeen
relates the projects planned in IIRSA to the growth in pressures on the ecosystem in
Amazonia and its traditional communities. Among these pressures are lumber industry
exploitation and deforestation—problems associated with the uncontrolled expansion
of agriculture, with cattle raising and mineral exploration, as well as with the rapid
growth in planting for biofuels, such as sugar-cane. “The lack of perception of the full
impact of the IIRSA investments, especially in the context of climate change and global
markets, is capable of producing a perfect storm of environmental destruction”, writes
Killeen. “The largest area of tropical forest on the planet and the multiple benefits that
it provides is threatened”. The challenge, according to the researcher, is to mediate the
legitimate expectations of development with the need to conserve the ecosystem in
Amazonia. But this concern, which should be at the center of IIRSA’s decision-making
process, appears in a superficial way. Environmental and social sustainability is seen,
basically, as a question of public relations (how to “sell” the project to the public) and of
conflict management of (how to turn around the eventual resistance of civil society).
Now we are facing a new fact. The current financial crisis, at the same time that it
worsens the living conditions of great masses of workers and marginalized populations
in the developing countries, will be able to provide a temporary reduction of political
and economic pressure from the interests of capital over the frontier regions of economic
Zibechi, Raúl, “IIRSA: la integración a la medida de los mercados” (IIRSA: integration in stride with the market) . Programa
de las Américas, International Relations Center, June 13, 2006. Silver City, EUA.
IIRSA pode colocar em risco floresta amazônica” (IIRSA may put Amazon forest at risk), in Conservação Internacional Notícias,



accumulation. This can be a favorable moment to strengthen the tools of resistance and
to widen the discussion about the development model and the integration of South
America—a moment that enhances the words of Ana Esther Ceceña, Paula Aguiar, and
Carlos Motto in their booklet about the subject9: “We are facing a battle of ideas, of
territories, of ways of life and of conceptions of the world. Nothing is guaranteed for
IIRSA. Nothing is guaranteed either for the future of the peoples. This is a history that
is waiting to be written.”

Ceceña, Ana Esther; Aguilar, Paula, and Motto Carlos, Territorialidad de la dominación: La Integración de la Infraestructura
Regional(Territoriality of domination: the Integration of Regional Infrastructure). Observatorio Latinoamericano de Geopolítica.
Buenos Aires, 2007.


The rich region of Sepetiba Bay – one of the most important tourist
spots and an ecological paradise in the State of Rio de Janeiro – may turn
into a large industrial open air dump, supported by public funds and at
the cost of the daily sustenance of thousands of families that make their
living from fishing and tourism.

Transnational corporations and Human
Rights Violations: the Case of Atlântico
Steel Company in Sepetiba Bay
Karina Kato and Sandra Quintela1
What is the cost of “development” policies in Brazil today? How do they impact
traditional populations, such as artisan fisherman, quilombolas, seaside inhabitants, river
dwellers, and others? How does the Plan for Accelerated Growth (PAC) is having a
great impact in these communities? The establishment of a steel consortium composed
of Vale corporation and the German company ThyssenKrupp answers these questions,
with a scenario of desolation that spreads across Sepetiba Bay.
Sepetiba Bay interconnects with Ilha Grande Bay, and is one of the most important
tourist spots and an ecological paradise in Rio de Janeiro. This rich region in natural
resources may turn into a large industrial open air dump, supported by public funds at
the cost of the daily sustenance of thousands of families that make their living from
fishing and tourism.
Sepetiba Bay covers the municipalities of Rio de Janeiro, Iraguaí, and Mangaratiba,
and is a very diversified region from the environmental and socioeconomic points of

Karina Kato and Sandra Quintela are economists with PACS – Alternative Policies Institute for the Southern Cone



view. Notwithstanding its natural riches and biological patrimony, Sepetiba Bay is an
important industrial center in the state, such that there is in this area intense coexistence
between industrialization, urbanization, areas of Atlantic forest, and ecosystems of great
environmental importance, transforming the region into a stage for innumerable
environmental conflicts.
There are important ecosystems preserved in the region, such as remains of the
Atlantic forest, sand bars, and mangroves. The bay also plays an important role in sheltering
native, endemic, and endangered bird species, as a refuge for coastal birds, and as a rest
area for flocks of birds seeking shelter in its vegetation. The region’s estuaries, in turn,
possess an immense biological richness typical of transition environments—locales where
fresh river water meets the ocean water. This situation is repeated underwater where
young fish seek protection from predators in the submerged roots of the mangrove
vegetation, which forms one of the most important aquatic ecosystems in the state of
Rio de Janeiro.
Because of its natural resources, the Western Zone of Sepetiba Bay is facing
environmental and social conflicts. Industrial activity in the region began in the 1960s,
with the building of Highway BR-101 and the Port of Itaguaí. Thus, from the 1980s on,
the region began to evidence high demographic growth rates, as a result of two factors:
activities related to the region’s port and growth in tourism. More recently, the region
has been the stage for installation of large scale enterprises in the chemical, mining, and
steel sectors. However, the local population depends on fishing activities. Among them,
there are quilombola and indigenous communities.
The steel complex will be made up of Companhia Siderúrgica do Atlântico –
TKCSA, already under construction and with plans to be the largest steelworks in Latin
America; Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional – CSN, which will be increasing its production
capacity; and Gerdau, which will expand the production capacity of Gerdau Cosigua,
with the construction of a new mill for special steels – Gerdau Aços Especiais Rio. For
distribution of iron ore and steel products, eight ports will be built, in all, belonging to
TKCSA, CSN, Usiminas, Gerdau, BHP Billington, Brazore, the Southeastern Port of
LLX Logística, as well as the expansion of the Port of Itaguaí.
All these undertakings, which enjoy the economic and political support of the Brazilian
municipal, state, and federal governments, through tax exemptions and direct financing,
chiefly from BNDES, have enormous economic, social, environmental, and cultural
impacts on the region.
The damages involved in these mega-projects are not restricted to local impacts.
They have a wide scope and place the entire population of Rio de Janeiro at risk. These
mega-undertakings destroy the environment and ecosystems that are of major importance


for maintaining the state’s biodiversity. They also contribute to air pollution and represent
an enormous risk to public health.
Due to its large energy intensity, the steel sector increases air pollution based on
emission of pollutants such as sulphur oxides (SOx), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), nitrogen
oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, ethane, and
various organic hydrocarbons, such as benzene. Another major problem connected
with the steel industry is exposure to benzene, a byproduct of coke production, which
is a colorless, volatile and highly flammable liquid, exposure to which affects the human
nervous, endocrine, and immunological systems.
Studies indicate that, if a population of 30,000 is exposed to 1 ppm of benzene in
the atmosphere, 60 new cases of cancer can be expected. It is important to stress that in
1990 the average occupational exposure at CSN at Volta Redonda-RJ was 4 ppm. The
complex planned at Sepetiba Bay includes a plant which will be the largest steel mill in
Latin America. These impacts on the health of the population are ignored in the company’s
planning, and in the government’s discourse.

The Atlântico Steel Company (TKCSA)
The TKCSA industrial-steel-port conglomerate is a joint venture formed by the German
company ThyssenKrupp Steel, with 90% of the stock, and by Vale Corporation. The
complex is formed by a steel mill with a production capacity of 10 million tons of steel
plate, a thermoelectric plant for energy generation, and a 4km access bridge for two port
terminals. The enterprise, which will begin operation in December of 2009, plans to
produce 5.5 million tons of steel plate, all for export to the Unites States and Germany.
Total investment in this mega-project is 4.5 billion Euros, which represents the largest
German investment in Brazil, and a central piece in ThyssenKrupp’s strategy for expansion
in the world economy for the next ten years.
A large part of this investment is financed with public Brazilian money, whether by means
of numerous tax exemptions or by direct financing by BNDES (National Economic and
Social Development Bank), which will also finance part of the company’s activities pertaining to
social responsibility in the region. The land on which the complex is being built was granted by
the federal government, even though to do so it had to remove entire rural communities from
the area. The tax exemptions pertaining to payment of the ISS (Taxes on Services) for five years
are estimated at more than US$ 150 million per year, without counting the exemption from
ICMS (Tax on Circulation of Merchandise and Services) for ten years. Additionally, BNDES
approved financing of R$ 1.48 billion for acquisition of machinery and equipment.
The nature of this project follows the economic policies based on exporting
agricultural and mineral commodities, which requires intensive use of natural


resources and labor exploitation. In the other hand, the countries for which these
commodities are destined specialize in the production of special steel products
with greater aggregate value.
In addition, TKCSA ignored Brazilian legislation regarding the protection of
costal mangrove areas, considered to be Areas of Environmental Preservation (APA),
subject to protection in accordance with the Brazilian Forest Code. The license for
this project was supposed to be granted by IBAMA (Brazilian Institute for the
Environment and Renewable Natural Resources). However, TKCSA has only
received a license from FEEMA (State Foundation of Environmental Engineering),
contrary to what is provided for by law.
In December 2007, IBAMA inspectors denounced that TKCSA was destroying a
wide area of mangrove without legal authorization. At that time, the company had to
pay a compensation of R$100,000.00, and IBAMA opened a criminal investigation. In
April 2008, TKCSA was accused of violating labor laws and causing accidents at the
jobsite. The Public Labor Ministry (MPT) notified the company for irregularities at the
work environment, such as lack of appropriate safety equipment for the workers.
The company also violated the rights of local fishermen. Since its construction started,
the fishermen have been prevented from working, because TKCSA crated zones where
fishing is prohibited. In addition, in order to reduce labor costs, the company has been
hiring immigrants (from the Northeast of Brazil and also Chinese). The Chinese workers
fall under an agreement that TKCSA signed with the International Cooperation of
Brazil Project Consulting. According to inspector from MPT, Chinese immigrants didn’t
receive working documents or labor contracts. The fact that these workers are
undocumented makes it more difficult for them to denounce poor working conditions.
Another serious problem in the region is water contamination by heavy metals and
chemical waste such as lead, cadmium, and zinc. According to the State Environmental
Engineering Foundation (FEEMA), Sepetiba Bay received in its waters, over several
years, nearly one hundred tons of heavy metals each year. The contaminated mud extracted
from the bottom of the bay by TKCSA presents another serious issue. The nearly
21,810,000 m3 of contaminated mud have been taken from the bottom of the Bay in
order to increase its depth and allow access for large ships.

The responsibility of Vale Mining Company
Vale Mining Company holds 10% of the shares in this consortium. Recently, the
company gained control of MBR and Ferteco corporations, combining practically all
iron ore production in the country. The MRS logistical railroad and the FCA (Center
Atlantic Railway) guarantee that all this iron ore production arrives at the ports of Tuba214


rão (controlled by Vale), Ubu (property of the mining company Samarco), Sepetiba
(Gerdau, TKCSA, LLX, and Vale), and Santos (public port with private terminals, among
these the steel company Cosigua).
This ore arrives at the ports via the MRS logistic and FCA railroads, which belong
to Vale do Rio Doce, Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN), Minerações Brasileiras
Reunidas (MBR) and Gerdau. The entire productive chain for the steel exported by
these ports, beginning with the iron ore producers, are in the hands of large companies
that seek to reduce production costs. In addition, the partnership of this consortium
with Vale guarantees that foreign companies have access to public funds, particularly
through BNDES.
The strategy of these corporations is to increase their infrastructure to export mineral and agricultural commodities, including pipelines, railways, and ports. With public
funding from BNDES and other governmental agencies, these companies contribute to
a “development” model that deepens economic and social inequalities in Brazil.


More than 300 thousand rural residents migrate to the United States each
year; just in the effective period of the Free Trade Agreement between
the United States, Canada, and Mexico (NAFTA), more than 4,000
Mexicans were murdered trying to cross the border. In addition, in recent
years, Europe became a new destination for migrants, forced out of their
countries due to the impossibility of surviving under the current conditions
of exclusion. It is estimated that in Spain (one of the chief destinations)
there are more than a million Ecuadorians, as well as thousands of
Bolivians, Peruvians, and Colombians.

Our Cries, Our Voices, for a World without Walls
Migration: a view from Latin America
Document of the Cry of the Excluded
Presented at the Third World Social Forum on Migration
Luciane Udovic1 and Luiz Bassegio2
In spite of the fact that migrations always happened, today they occur on a larger
scale and their causes are more complex than in prior periods. We live today under the
process of capitalist modernization on a global scale, producing enormous economic
inequalities. This process increasingly contributes to large scale migrations.
One of the most important aspects of current migrations is the destructuralization
of the rural world in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In the 1950s, we
saw the birth of the so-called “Green Revolution,” which made possible the

Luciane Udovic is a member of the Cry of the Excluded and of the Economic Justice Program.
Luiz Bassegio is a coordinator of the Cry of the Excluded.



industrialization of the countryside, and had disastrous effects for peasants. In an
accelerated manner, large scale plantations replaced small productive units. Thousands
of peasants migrated to urban areas, in deplorable conditions and, with time,
migratory flows began to industrialized countries that attracted migrants with their
economic dynamism.
In order to understand the impacts of these processes, it is crucial to explain the
magnitude that the migratory phenomenon has at the present time. The 1980s and
1990s brought with them further damage to local and small scale agriculture, with
the implementation of free trade agreements sought to favor the interests of agroindustrial cartels.
In Latin America, these policies had a great impact on rural communities. For example,
in Mexico, where since the 1960s there has been a permanent growth in migration to the
United States, more than 2 million agricultural jobs were lost between 1994 and 2006,
and 70 percent of the rural population lives in conditions of poverty.
As a result, more than 300,000 rural residents migrate to the United States each year.
Since the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States,
Canada, and Mexico (NAFTA), more than 4,000 Mexicans were murdered trying to
cross the border. In addition, in recent years, Europe became a new destination for
migrants, forced out of their countries due to the impossibility of surviving under the
current conditions of exclusion. It is estimated that in Spain (one of the chief destinations)
there are more than a million Ecuadorians, as well as thousands of Bolivians, Peruvians,
and Colombians, and the same is happening in other countries such as Germany.
Migration is increasing as a result of the destruction of local economies in Latin
American and Caribbean countries. The “Structural Adjustment Programs” imposed by
international financial institutions had an effect not only on rural populations, but also on
urban communities, with the privatization of strategic sectors, which eliminated jobs
and social services.
The number of migrants doubled in the world since 1975. Currently 200 million
people live in countries other than their country of origin. The United Nations anticipates
that this number will increase to 280 million in the next 40 years.
One of the major problems faced by migrant workers is a lack of labor laws to
protect their rights. They play a fundamental role in economic development, but suffer
all types of human rights violations. Migrants are criminalized especially in Europe and
the United States.
Although these countries need migrant workers, they deny access to basic to them.
On June 18, 2008, the European Union approved the “Return Directive,” popularly
known as the “Shame Directive.” This new law establishes rules for deporting


undocumented migrants, extending time of prison for migrants to up to 18 months
(even children can be detained).
However, in the past, large number of workers and peasants from Europe had to
migrate to Latin America. Today, European countries implement repressive laws against
immigrants, as scapegoats of the new economic crisis. Although they are necessary for
the most difficult and heaviest work, which European people don’t want to perform,
immigrants suffer from prejudice and humiliation. The Cry of the Excluded demands
immediate annulment of the “Return Directive,” and asks the European Parliament to
develop migration policies based on full respect for human rights.

The Alternatives
The Cry of the Excluded proposed a policy of Universal Citizenship, including a
process of integration based on principles of solidarity and respect for human dignity.
Migration should be a free choice for people, and not an economic imposition for lack
of work opportunities in our countries. We define Universal Citizenship as a policy that
recognizes human rights for people of all origins. It includes:
- Full access and enjoyment of human rights, guaranteed by international and
national laws, including the right to vote. All governments should ratify and put into
practice the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
Workers and Members of Their Families.
- Non-criminalization and general amnesty for migrants. We condemn the “Return
Directive” policy in Europe, and “Walls of Shame” between Mexico and the United
States. All immigrants should be guaranteed their right to move about freely, without
having to hide like criminals.