RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- The government has helped free 777
people from slave labor since 1995 but hundreds more people still work
against their will in Brazil, a newsweekly reported Sunday.
The Employment Ministry has set up an armed team to rescue enslaved men,
women and children, said the newsweekly, which cited previously
undisclosed ministry figures.
The team targets the poor central and northern Brazilian states of Mato
Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Maranhao and Para, where unemployed
workers are attracted to farms by offers of work.
Some farm owners force the workers to work as long as 15 hours a day at
unpaid manual labor and threaten them with violence if they try to leave, the
One 32-year-old worker, freed three weeks ago, told the newsweekly his
brother was killed and that he himself was threatened at the funeral.
Though Brazil in 1888 became the last country in the Americas to abolish
slavery officially, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso admitted in 1995
that the practice continued and he vowed to combat it.
In 1998, a farm owner in Para state was given a 2 1-2 year suspended
prison sentence for keeping slaves. A second farm owner, accused of
enslaving 220 workers in the same state, is currently on trial, the
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.