Note from BW of Brazil: Unfortunately, what the question asked in the headline is not as outrageous as you may think. In the country that imported the most enslaved Africans in the Western Hemisphere and was the last to outlaw the institution, stories of people working in conditions analogous to slavery are actually quite common. So, when the samba school Paraíso da Tuiuti presented the theme that asked the question, “My God is slavery extinct?” a few weeks ago during Carnaval, it wasn’t just a manner of provoking controversy, but a reality for more Brazilians than we’ll ever probably know.
Elderly woman enslaved for eight years was rescued in the state of Minas Gerais: is slavery extinct?
At 68, the domestic worked without any days off and received from 50 to 100 reais (US$15.38 – $30.77) per month, lived in a room two meters wide along with her 22-year-old son, who tried to alert her of the situation. The rescue occurred in mid-last year in Itapiru, Vale do Jequitinhonha, after an anonymous denunciation.
By Maria Eliza
The exploiter was ordered to pay R$ 72 thousand (US$22,153) for labor adjustment only for the last five years of work, but signed a Term of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC) with the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPT) and is paying R$ 5,000 (US$1,538). The names of those involved were not disclosed.
The son of the domestic also tells that the housewife deceived the victim and started to take the pension of her deceased husband, who worked on a family site, besides making two loans consigned in the name of the old woman. “She didn’t get anything. Everything we bought at the sale of the boss’s father was noted, and the debt never ended. If we paid R$ 1,000, we owed R$ 2,000”, said the young man.
The cycle of exploitation was maintained because the victim lived and ate in the house of the exploiter, who said she doing a favor for the elderly woman who had nowhere to live and theoretically had a debt in a family trade – and saw no prospects of life outside of this.
Although this case was the only one of the registered type in the state, these situations tend to become more frequent after the approval of labor reform, in which case it would say that the enslaved freely negotiated her situation of slavery with the exploiter. In this case the victim is receiving unemployment insurance, but justice is slow and fragile in defending workers’ rights, especially now that those rights are no longer guaranteed by law. It’s worth remembering that this judiciary is the one covered with privileges and super-salaries, with judges who were not voted in by anyone and decided to withdraw the democratic right of Brazilians to decide who to vote for.
This elderly woman should be retired, but she probably does not have enough time to contribute to social security. Temer now wants to approve the pension reform, which will make the vast majority of workers work until they die. Along with the labor reform, which establishes that many workers will receive less than R$200 (currently US$61.50) per month, the contribution necessary to retire will be impossible.
The question asked in the Carnival – extremely politicized in Rio and Minas Gerais – by the Paraíso da Tuiuti samba school is more than current: is slavery extinct?
Source: Esquerda Diário