Brazil’s Congress may soon take a huge step: sanction slaveholders through a constitutional amendment to confiscate land where people have been rescued by government anti-slavery squads.
The confiscated land would help landless families, who are often the most vulnerable to trafficking.
Proponents call it “the strongest legal instrument…for combating slavery in Brazil.” Land seizure is a penalty that slaveholders will take seriously. Brazil’s Congress may vote as early as May 8th.
Brazil already has one of the world’s most effective anti-slavery police squads. They’ve liberated more than 37,000 slaves since 2003. More than half of these survivors were freed from remote cattle ranches or sugar cane plantations. Many were in very poor health, having been forced into heavy labor with limited food, drinking the same water as cattle. FTS’ partner, the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), is one of the main agencies filing official claims to trigger these rescues.
Activists around the world are signing a global petition to encourage approval of the amendment (called PEC 438). It’s organized by Avaaz.org, and more than 50,000 people have signed already. You can too. The petition to Brazil’s president and Congress is in Portuguese, but here’s a translation:
“In a few days, the Brazilian Congress may vote for an historic amendment to the constitution which will make it possible to punish those exploiting workers in conditions of slavery and confiscate lands where slaves have been rescued, for use in the land reform program.
“This would be the strongest legal instrument ever passed for combating slavery in Brazil.
“It is unacceptable that, in the 21st century, the horror of slavery still casts a shadow over every corner of this country, since thousands of people are currently enslaved. Last month, adults and children were rescued from a farm whose owner was a state legislator! They were living in small huts and drinking the same water used by cattle and other animals.
“It is time to take action. Our protest inside and outside of the country will put pressure on the Brazilian Congress so that those who perpetrate this torture and slavery against fellow citizens will pay the price.
“Please click on the right to join us and build together a deafening protest. Avaaz will meet in person with MP Marco Maia, President of the Chamber of Deputies, and give him our message.”
Click here to add your support. On the website, enter your name (“nome”), e-mail address, and country (“pais”). Use the code “EUA” for U.S. residents. Other fields can be ignored.
Thanks for taking a stand!