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TITLE:  BRAZIL HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Brazil, with a population of over 150 million, is a 
constitutional federal republic comprised of 26 states and the 
federal district.  In an April 1993 plebiscite, Brazilian 
voters endorsed the presidential system and rejected a proposal 
to adopt a parliamentary form of government.  Elections have 
been free and fair since the transition from military to 
civilian government was completed during the 1980's.  The 
previous president, Fernando Collor, was impeached and removed 
from office by Congress in 1992 on charges of corruption, 
3 years after his election.  His Vice President, Itamar Franco, 
is serving out the last 2 years of Collor's term.  The next 
elections, to be held in late 1994, will choose a president, 
two-thirds of the Senate, 503 federal deputies, 27 governors, 
and members of state legislatures.  

Security forces in Brazil fall under federal or state control.  
The state police, the focus of many human rights complaints, 
are divided into two forces:  the civil police, with a largely 
investigative role, and the uniformed, so-called military 
police (actually civilians employed by state governments), who 
are responsible for maintaining public order.  Crimes committed 
on duty by military police come under the jurisdiction of 
special military police courts, set up by the states, not by 
the armed forces.  Legislation is now before the Senate to 
change the jurisdiction to civilian courts when military 
policemen are charged with murder and other capital crimes.  
Brazil's federal police is a small, specialized force dealing 
with violations of federal law, tax evasion, narcotics, and 
transboundary issues.  The police, particularly those under 
state control, were responsible for numerous human rights 
abuses, including extrajudicial killings and serious physical 
abuse of detainees.  These abuses are seldom punished.  

Brazil's economy was plagued by one of the highest inflation 
rates in the world, with an annual rate of over 2,400 percent.  
Government plans to cut spending and borrowing and to increase 
tax collections had made little impact by the end of 1993.  
Large disparities in income distribution characterize Brazilian 
society, with the poorest 20 percent of the population sharing 
only 2 percent of the national income.  The richest 20 percent 
have 26 times the income of the bottom fifth, and an estimated 
32 million Brazilians every day received a less than adequate 

Extrajudicial killings continue to be the principal human 
rights problem in Brazil.  Killings of criminal suspects and 
minors by vigilante groups, often including members of police 
forces, usually go unpunished.  There is also widespread 
violence against women and the poor, who are predominantly from 
racial minorities or of mixed race.  In rural areas, landowners 
and their agents frequently resorted to threats and violence, 
including killings, against activists.  A confrontation between 
invading gold miners and Yanomami Indians, along the Venezuelan-
Brazilian border, resulted in 16 deaths.  Charges of genocide 
have been brought against 23 miners.  Only 2 were taken into 
custody; they were released on December 29 when their trial was 
delayed owing to difficulty in locating witnesses.

A special investigating committee of the Congress estimated 
that as many as 500,000 minors work as prostitutes.  Some 
16,000 rural workers were rescued from forced labor without 
pay, but the Labor Ministry says it cannot investigate all 
reports of forced labor due to lack of resources.  Cases of 
egregious human rights violations were generally not 
effectively investigated or prosecuted, and a widespread 
climate of impunity remains the greatest obstacle to improving 
human rights in Brazil.  In two notorious Rio de Janeiro cases 
in 1993, however, police accused of participating in killings 
are under arrest, awaiting trial.  This represents progress, 
but the key will be whether the investigations result in 
credible prosecutions with appropriate punishment of the 


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Extrajudicial killings remained an extremely serious human 
rights problem in Brazil in 1993.  At least several hundred 
Brazilians die annually as a result of extrajudicial killings 
committed by various elements, including police, vigilante 
groups, landowners and their agents, and invaders of indigenous 
territories.  In urban areas, police and vigilante groups, 
often composed of members of the police force, were responsible 
for numerous killings of criminal suspects, street children, 
and slum dwellers.  Domestic and international attention paid 
to some of these killings provoked a public reaction which led 
to the arrest of several police officers and others suspected 
of involvement in the killings.  However, in most killings of 
criminal suspects, street children, rural labor leaders, and 
indigenous peoples, those responsible are not brought to trial 
or convicted.

Obstruction of justice by local elites and widespread public 
apathy contributes to Brazil's climate of impunity.  Rural 
landowners intimidate local populations and law enforcement 
authorities in order to impede investigations into killings of 
rural laborers and landless people's advocates.  The high crime 
rate, the failure to apprehend most criminals, the slowness and 
alleged corruption of the criminal justice system, and the 
legal requirement to release those charged pending trial 
contribute to public acquiescence in police brutality and 
killings of criminal suspects.  Investigations into these 
incidents are hampered because witnesses hesitate to cooperate 
with authorities for fear of retribution or because they and 
the general public often sympathize with the actions of the 

In Rio de Janeiro, 31 military policemen were accused of 
murdering 21 residents in the Vigario Geral slum on August 31, 
in revenge for the earlier killing of 4 policemen in the 
neighborhood.  All but three of those indicted in the Vigario 
Geral killings are in custody.  One of the accused, a former 
police officer, is serving as a member of the Rio de Janeiro 
state legislature and can be arrested only if the legislature 
revokes his parliamentary immunity.  Five military policemen 
were indicted for killing eight street children in Rio's 
Candelaria Square on July 23.  Police statistics released after 
the Candelaria killings showed 328 minors had been killed 
between January and June in Rio alone.

In recent years, human rights groups credibly claimed that 
police in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, appear to follow a 
policy of killing criminal suspects rather than arresting 
them.  Police killed 1,470 individuals in "confrontations" in 
1992, compared with 585 deaths in police actions in 1990.  The 
number of killings dropped sharply following the firing of the 
state Secretary of Security for his role in the 1992 Carandiru 
Prison massacre and the negative publicity it generated.  This 
strongly suggested that police killings are controllable; and 
the number of such killings dropped to 409 in 1993.

Broad press coverage, both domestic and international, 
generated by the Candelaria and Vigario Geral killings brought 
swift investigations and identification of the accused 
murderers in those cases.  However, in most similar killings, 
no one is charged, and the police fail to carry out effective 
investigations.  The victims in Candelaria and similar cases 
are poor and mostly black.  Human rights organizations credibly 
charge that most are killed by extermination squads, who employ 
current or former police officers.  

Investigation of charges of police abuse is often slow and 
uncertain, with many witnesses afraid to testify against police 
for fear of retaliation.  For example, Edmeia da Silva Euzebio 
was shot and killed on January 15, 8 days after testifying 
against police accused in the disappearance her son and nine 
other youths in 1990.  The accused murderer of Da Silva was 
acquitted for lack of evidence.  It has been estimated that 
less than 20 percent of the cases against the police brought to 
trial in police courts ever result in conviction.  (Police 
courts are special courts with jurisdiction over the state 
police; see Section 1.e.)

Human rights groups credibly claimed the police used unnecessary
lethal force in storming the Carandiru Prison in 1992.  The 
police involved in the incident are being tried in police 
court.  Only 57 of the 120 accused had been questioned as of 
the end of 1993.  There are only four police court judges to 
handle 14,000 cases pending against police in Sao Paulo.  Given 
this backlog, state legislators estimate that it may be 10 
years before verdicts are reached in the Carandiru case.

There continue to be reports of murders of homosexuals.  Sao 
Paulo newspapers reported that 3 transvestites were murdered on 
March 14; other reports claimed 17 transvestites were killed in 
the first three months of 1993.  One military policeman was 
charged in the March 14 killings and was awaiting trial at 
year's end.  Homosexual rights groups claim, however, that the 
vast majority of perpetrators of crimes against homosexuals go 

Police violence also occurred in rural areas.  In the 
northeastern state of Alagoas, police were suspected in 80 
percent of the 600 murders committed during 1992.  The public 
demanded federal action after three particularly egregious 
police crimes:  the military police killing of the civil police 
chief; the assassination of a small town mayor by police 
working for his rivals; and the murder and dismemberment of a 
crusading city councilman, also known to be homosexual.

Most rural killings involved land disputes.  The pastoral land 
commission of the Catholic Church reported that 46 persons were 
murdered in 1993 as a result of land disputes, compared to 35 
in 1992.  The increase in killings was accompanied by families 
being forced off farms by threats, violent intimidation, and 
physical expulsion.  The body of the vice president of the 
rural workers' union of Araguaina was found floating in a river 
a week after he disappeared in March.  Two landowners were 
killed in ambushes in September near Rio Maria, leading to 
abusive police tactics against squatters and secret arrests 
without cause, according to the local priest, Father Ricardo 
Rezende.  On September 19, a band of men using military-like 
uniforms wiped out a squatter settlement near Tucuman, killing 
at least four persons, with three others reported missing.

In the state of Para, where more rural workers and their 
leaders have been killed than in any other state, only one 
gunman was convicted of murder in 1993, and no landowner has 
ever been convicted for paying for the killings.  The 1990 case 
of the murder of rural workers' union leaders Jose and Paulo 
Canuto was still pending in the courts; the investigative stage 
in the case of their father, Joao Canuto, who was murdered in 
1986, has finally been concluded.  The case of the landowner 
accused of hiring a gunman in 1991 to kill Expedito Ribeiro de 
Souza, head of Rio Maria's rural union, remained unresolved at 
year's end after a June 30 trial was postponed.  

In a rare case where a landowner was convicted and jailed for 
murder, Darli Alves and his son Darci, the killers of 
rubber-tapper leader Chico Mendes, escaped from the Acre state 
prison February 15.  Human rights groups charge the escape was 
aided by state authorities.  A federal manhunt failed to find 
them, and they remained at large.  On March 23, the Supreme 
Court upheld the conviction of Darli Alves, which had been 
overturned by a state appeals court.

Another environmental activist and union organizer, Paulo 
Vinha, was shot in the state of Espirito Santo on April 28 
while investigating a sand mining operation inside an 
ecological reserve.  Two brothers who own the mining company 
were arrested on charges of murdering Vinha.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated abductions.  The 
disappearance of street children or persons believed to be 
criminals is often attributed to police or vigilante groups. 

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Torture is prohibited by the Constitution, which contains 
severe legal penalties for torture or acquiescence in torture.  
Although an Americas Watch report found that the use of torture 
had declined among Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo police, there 
continued to be frequent credible reports that police beat and 
torture criminal suspects to extract information, confessions, 
or money.  In the state of Ceara, a bar association team in a 
surprise visit to a local police station found Antonio Braga 
bound with instruments of torture around him.  He said he had 
confessed to stealing a television set only after beatings, 
shock, and near asphyxiation.  Ceara's governor fired the 
Secretary of Public Security, and ordered the suspension, 
pending an investigation, of a police official and four 
officers found torturing the suspected thief.  The police 
Inspector General in charge of investigating the torture 
allegations resigned 3 months later after receiving death 
threats.  A spokeman for the Ceara bar association reported 
that 17 other cases of torture had been documented through 
testimony and physical exams.

Brazil's overcrowded prisons held 126,152 inmates in space 
designed for 51,368.  A May declaration signed by 39 human 
rights organizations stated that "abuses, both physical and 
psychological, and corruption represent the routine reality of 
the Brazilian prison system."  A federal investigation into 
charges of abuse in Recife's prisons found that prisoners 
reported electric shocks, near drownings, beatings, withholding 
of food, and extended solitary confinement.  The inspector 
found prisoners held beyond their sentences, untreated AIDS and 
tuberculosis, and guards selling their uniforms to prisoners 
planning to escape.  A followup visit by a federal commission 
was canceled, and human rights monitors have been denied access 
to the Recife prison since this inspection.  

Conditions in juvenile detention centers continue in violation 
of Brazil's statutes regarding juvenile offenders, due to 
overcrowding and lack of resources.  Sao Paulo's main juvenile 
facility, where rioting broke out twice in 1992, was the scene 
of another riot in March 1993.  Human rights organizations said 
at least 75 of the 117 inmates in the wing where the revolt 
took place were beaten by authorities.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution limits arrests to those caught in the act of 
committing a crime or those arrested by order of a judicial 
authority.  The constitutional provision for a judicial 
determination of the legality of detention is usually 
respected, although some convicted inmates are held beyond 
their sentences due to poor record keeping.  The law permits 
provisional detention for up to 5 days under specified 
conditions during a police investigation.  This period may be 
extended by judicial order.  Illegal and incommunicado 
detention without a judicial order, particularly of street 
youths and children, remained a problem.  A juvenile court 
judge in Porto Alegre complained that pretrial detention of 
minors often exceeded the legal limit.  A legislative report in 
Rio Grande do Sul also criticized a judge who ordered an AIDS 
patient confined to a mental asylum without any legal 

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is an independent branch of government.  The 
judicial system, with the Federal Supreme Court at its apex, 
includes courts of first instance and appeals courts.  States 
organize their own judicial systems but must adhere to the 
basic principles in the Federal Constitution.  Brazil also has 
a system of specialized courts dealing with police, labor, 
electoral, juvenile, and family matters.  Special police courts 
have jurisdiction over state police; the record of these courts 
shows a clear reluctance to punish colleagues for human rights 
abuses.  This has created a climate of impunity that encourages 
further abuses.  Police courts do not have jurisdiction over 
civilians.  Elected officials are immune from arrest and trial 
until the end of their term in office unless impeached; thus 
the impunity of the governor of Paraiba, Ronaldo Cunha Lima, 
who shot his precedessor and political rival at point blank 
range in a restaurant November 5 and continues to govern.  His 
party controls the state legislature and refuses to impeach him.

The right to a fair public trial, as provided for by law, is 
generally respected in practice, although local judges often 
demonstrated bias in favor of landowners in cases related to 
squatters' claims and to the murder of rural activists.  The 
accused in the shooting case of Mariano Domingo Freire, the 
leader of the Small Farmers' Association in Pernambuco, is 
still at large because the court in the accused's hometown 
failed to respond to another court's request that he be turned 
over for trial.

Defendants are entitled to counsel and must be made fully aware 
of the charges against them.  In cases in which a defendant 
cannot afford an attorney, one must be provided at public 
expense; private attorneys are appointed to represent poor 
defendants when public defenders are unavailable.  Defendants 
and their attorneys have the right to be informed of the 
evidence on which charges are based.  Only cases of willful 
crimes against life are tried by jury; all others are tried by 
a judge.  

The judicial system is highly inefficient; many cases continue 
for years.  The need for court reform is widely recognized in 
the legal and judicial community.  In Pernambuco state, 
16 judges were under investigation for corruption, and 3 were 
suspended.  Charges against the judges included partiality, 
nepotism, and extortion.  In one case, a military police court 
judge was charged with deliberately misfiling and thus stopping 
1,450 cases against police officers.  The Inspector General and 
human rights lawyers have received death threats as a result of 
their investigations of the Pernambuco courts.  On the other 
hand, a single judge in Rio de Janeiro, Denise Frossard, was 
hailed by the press and the public for daring to convict 
14 notorious racketeers who control the lucrative numbers games 
in that city.  The racketeers were well known, but had operated 
with impunity until Judge Frossard sentenced them to 6 years' 
imprisonment.  Appeals were pending at year's end; Judge 
Frossard's life has been threatened.

The high level of crime and the perceived failure of the 
judicial system to deal with criminals contributed to public 
tolerance of most police killings and vigilante killings of 
suspected criminals by irate citizens.  Cases were reported in 
all regions of the country.  In Recife, a mob of 100 beat 3 men 
to death after the men killed a retired nurse.  Police have not 
located any witnesses to testify against anyone in the mob.  In 
Rio de Janeiro, three men were beaten, doused with gasoline, 
and burned to death after being mistaken for thieves.  Drug 
gangs are known to maintain their own system of order in Rio's 
slums; in the Borel slum in December 1992, drug lords rounded 
up and shot through the hand 17 youths who had been mugging the 
gang's customers, scaring away business.  The youths who sought 
medical treatment were afraid to talk about who wounded them, 
and the slum residents expressed satisfaction at the gang's 

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Constitution provides for freedom from arbitrary intrusion 
into the home.  There were no reports of illegal entry for 
political reasons, but illegal entry into homes without a 
warrant occurred in searches for criminal suspects.  A report 
by the state legislature of Rio Grande do Sul found that 
searches without warrants, theft of property, and threats 
against the victims were often a police practice.  A bar 
association leader in Rio de Janeiro said police routinely 
enter slum dwellings on the grounds that such structures do not 
meet the legal definition of domiciles.  Wiretaps are 
unconstitutional except when authorized by a judicial authority 
for purposes of criminal investigation and prosecution.  The 
inviolability of private correspondence is respected.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The right to free speech and to a free press as provided by the 
Constitution is widely exercised, although government officials 
are sometimes successful in imposing restraints (see below).  
The 1988 Constitution abolished all forms of censorship.  
Foreign publications are widely distributed in Brazil; prior 
review of films, plays, and radio and television programming is 
practiced only to determine a suitable viewing age.  The press 
and broadcast media routinely discuss controversial social and 
political issues and engage in investigative reporting.  Most 
radio and television stations are privately owned; the 
Government, through Congress, controls licensing authority.  
Newspapers, which are privately owned, vigorously report and 
comment on government performance.

Government officials frequently use libel regulations and other 
laws to respond to critics in the press.  In a small town in 
the state of Santa Catarina, a newspaper publisher was jailed 
for 3 weeks by a judge on charges of "offending public morals" 
because his paper criticized local officials.   A local judge 
in the state of Tocantins attempted to censor newspapers and 
television by prohibiting news of misuse of funds by an 
ex-governor.  By bringing libel charges, former President 
Collor kept off the air a television drama series based on the 
events leading up to his impeachment.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right to assemble peacefully, 
and this right is respected in practice.  Permits are not 
required for outdoor political or labor meetings, and such 
meetings occur frequently.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is no favored or state religion.  The majority of 
Brazilians belong to the Roman Catholic church, but Protestant 
churches have been expanding, and spiritism is widely 
practiced.  All faiths are free to establish places of worship, 
train clergy, and proselytize, although the Government controls 
entry into Indian lands.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There are no restrictions on movement within Brazil, except for 
the protected Indian areas, nor are there any restrictions on 
emigration or return.  Some towns in the south, however, were 
reported to be trying to block the entry of poor migrants from 
the north.  Brazil admits few immigrants, does not formally 
accept refugees for resettlement, and is selective in granting 

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides for the right of citizens to change 
their government through free elections.  Executive and 
legislative offices throughout the country at local, state, and 
national levels are filled through democratic direct elections 
among candidates representing many political parties.  Voting 
is secret and mandatory for all literate Brazilian citizens 
aged 18 to 70, except military conscripts who may not vote.  It 
is voluntary for minors aged 16 to 18, for the illiterate, and 
for those aged 70 and over.

Women have full political rights under the Constitution, and 
they are becoming active in politics and government, but few 
are in leadership positions.  Only 5 percent of the seats in 
the Federal Congress are held by women.  Indians were given the 
franchise under the 1988 Constitution, but they are essentially 
marginalized from the political process.

A plebiscite on whether to change from the presidential form of 
government to a parliamentary system, with the possibility of a 
constitutional monarchy, was held in April 1993.  A majority of 
those voting chose to keep the presidential system; 25 percent 
favored a parliamentary system; and only 10 percent, a 
monarchy.  Over 40 percent of the electorate, however, declined 
to make a choice either by casting null or blank votes or by 
staying away from the polls.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Brazilian nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) actively 
investigate allegations of human rights violations and often 
initiate legal proceedings.  Several international NGO's either 
maintain offices in Brazil or visit periodically.

The Foreign Ministry barred two diplomats from visiting the 
Yanomami reserve after a massacre (see section 5).  By 
subsequently requiring diplomats to obtain prior permission for 
visits to Indian reserves through the Foreign Ministry, the 
Federal Government has significantly increased the possibility 
of delayed or restricted access.  The Foreign Ministry accepts 
human rights questions from international groups and transmits 
human rights inquiries to relevant federal and local 

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

Discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, and 
nationality is unconstitutional but continued to be a problem.


The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex in 
employment or salaries and provides for 120 days of paid 
maternity leave.  The provision against wage discrimination is 
rarely enforced, however, and, as a reaction against the 
maternity leave law, some employers seek sterilization 
certificates from prospective employees or try to fire or avoid 
hiring women of childbearing age.  

There is a high incidence of physical abuse against women, and 
125 cities have established special police offices to deal with 
crimes against women.  A special study by an international 
human rights group found that over 70 percent of all reported 
cases of violence against women take place in the home.  A Sao 
Paulo state study concluded that more than 50 percent of rapes 
are committed by a family member and that investigation and 
prosecution are rare.

In the city of Porto Alegre, police registered 1,500 domestic 
violence complaints per month, but were not aware of any 
convictions of husbands for wife beating.  Women's rights 
leaders explain that police prefer to mediate family disputes 
rather than bring charges, and that women are too often 
dependent upon men for their livelihood to consider demanding 
punishment.  Although the archaic concept of "defense of honor" 
as a justification for wife murder was struck down by the 
Supreme Court in 1991, courts are still reluctant to prosecute 
and convict men who attack their wives.  In one case, a woman 
from the state of Rondonia was badly burned by a jealous 
boyfriend; her attacker was acquitted by a state court, even 
though he had been charged with the lesser charge of committing 
bodily harm rather than attempted murder.


Many children suffer physical abuse and deprivation.  Of 60 
million children and adolescents, an estimated 53 percent are 
part of families whose per capita income is under half the 
monthly minimum wage.  Consequently many children under 18 are 
found working on the streets of cities or in the fields beside 
their parents (see Section 6.d.).  There are no reliable 
figures on the number of street children, some of whom are 
homeless but most of whom return home at night with whatever 
money they can contribute to the family.  Although Brazil has 
relatively advanced laws to protect children and adolescents, 
and federal, state, and local councils have been formed to 
address their problems, the reality for children is still 
grim.  In addition to the killings of street children (see 
Section 1.a), an estimated 500,000 minors--some only 9 years of 
age--are involved in prostitution, according to a Congressional 
investigation.  Although prostitution is widely tolerated, two 
police raids were organized against houses of prostitution in 
gold mining camps, where young girls were held forcibly.  In 
November police freed 92 adolescent girls and 30 girls, aged 
from 8 to 12, from three dozen mining camps in Rondonia state.  
Ten brothel owners were arrested.  Illegal abortions are common 
in Brazil, and one-fifth of the deaths of adolescent girls are 
attributed to botched abortions.

     Indigenous People

Brazil's approximately 250,000 Indians, who speak 170 different 
languages, have a constitutional right to their traditional 
lands.  In practice, however, many indigenous peoples have only 
a very limited ability to participate in decisions affecting 
their lands, cultures, traditions, and the allocation of 
natural resources.  The Federal Government was charged with 
demarcating 519 indigenous areas within 5 years after the 1988 
Constitution was enacted.  However, legal demarcation and 
issuance of titles for only half those areas were accomplished 
by the October 1993 deadline.  Congress has not yet passed laws 
to implement constitutional provisions with respect to Indian 
rights, and indigenous groups are marginalized from the 
political process.

The Constitution gives Indians the exclusive use of the soil, 
rivers, and lakes located on their lands, while the Federal 
Government holds the authority to develop mineral resources 
found under Indian lands, as long as the Indians receive a 
share of the proceeds.  Legal regulations for development have 
not been enacted, but illegal mining and timber cutting are a 
constant problem on Indian lands.  In one small victory for 
Indian rights, a federal judge ordered a timber merchant to 
compensate the Nhambiquara Indians for wood valued at $40,000 
which had been taken from an Indian reserve in the state of 
Mato Grosso.  This sum is dwarfed by the amount of money being 
taken from economic exploitation of these lands by 
nonindigenous people.

Brazilian gold miners, working illegally on Yanomami Indian 
lands, killed 16 Indians--including women and children--from 
the Haximu village on the Brazil-Venezuela border and burned 
down their village in August 1993.  Brazil and Venezuela 
launched investigations into the massacre, arrested 2 miners, 
and issued warrants for 21 more.  The two taken into custody 
were released on December 29 when their trial was delayed owing 
to difficulty in locating witnesses.  There have been no 
convictions, however, in any previous case involving the murder 
of Indians.  Federal police investigations into the killings of 
10 other Yanomami since 1987 yielded no results.  Ten years 
after the murder of Guarani leader Marcal Tupa-y, who had 
represented Brazil's indigenous people in a 1980 meeting with 
Pope John Paul II, the two accused landowners were acquitted by 
a jury in Mato Grosso do Sul on March 29, 1993.  Two years 
after two Atikum Indian leaders were gunned down in the state 
of Pernambuco, their killers are still at large despite 
warrants for the arrest of four suspects.

The Catholic Church's Indigenist Council reported in 
mid-December that 42 Brazilian Indians had been murdered so far 
in 1993.  Twenty-four Indians were murdered in 1992.  Other 
problems are the high number of suicides among Indians and 
deaths from diseases such as malaria, measles, and cholera, 
introduced into Indian areas by outsiders.  The Federal 
Government failed to provide enough funding for adequate health 
care for Indians.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Although racial discrimination has been illegal since 1951, 
darker-skinned Brazilians frequently encounter de facto 
discrimination.  Most black Brazilians are found among the 
poorest sectors of society.  Even though nearly half of 
Brazil's population has some African ancestry, very few senior 
officials in government or the armed forces are black.  There 
are few blacks in senior private sector management positions.  
Black consciousness organizations challenge the view that 
Brazil is a racial democracy with equal treatment regardless of 
skin color.  Racial discrimination becomes most evident when 
blacks seek employment, housing, or educational opportunities.  
Blacks are more likely to be stopped by police and to bear the 
brunt of police brutality.  Data on the murders of street 
children in major cities show that the victims are 
disproportionately black.

In March the state of Sao Paulo created a commission on racism 
and a special police office to handle racially motivated 
crimes, in response to violent, racist attacks by "skinhead" 
gangs.  The first complaints to the antiracist police office, 
however, involved racial slurs made by police and employers.  
In the state of Espirito Santo in June, charges of racism were 
brought against a businesswoman and her son who told a young 
black woman she had no right to use the front elevator in their 
luxury apartment building.  The case gained unusual prominence 
because the young woman was the daughter of the state's 
governor, and it illustrates a curious ambivalence about race 
in Brazilian society in which many blacks suffer indignities 
while a few exceptions are elected to high office.

     People with Disabilities

The 1988 Constitution contains several provisions for the 
disabled, guaranteeing a minimum salary, educational 
opportunities, and access to public buildings as well as public 
transportation.  As is the case with many other provisions of 
the Constitution, no legislation has been enacted to implement 
these objectives.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Labor Code has long provided for union representation of 
all Brazilian workers (excepting military, military police, and 
firemen), but imposed a hierarchical, unitary system, funded by 
a mandatory "union tax" on workers and employers.  Under a 
restriction known as "unicidade" (one per city), the Code 
prohibits multiple unions of the same professional category in 
a given geographical area.  It also stipulates that no union's 
geographic base can be smaller than a municipality.  Workers in 
a union whose numbers increased (as when an industry grew) 
could petition the State to split a preexisting union into two 
or more unions.  The 1988 Constitution frees workers to 
organize new unions out of old ones without prior authorization 
from the Government but retains other provisions of the old 
Code.  The retention of unicidade and of the union tax 
continues to draw criticism both from elements of Brazil's 
labor movement and from the International Confederation of Free 
Trade Unions (ICFTU).

In practice, however, unicidade has proven less restrictive in 
recent years, as more liberal interpretations of its 
restrictions permitted new unions to form and--in many cases--
to compete with unions and federations that had already enjoyed 
official recognition.  The sole bureaucratic requirement for 
new unions is to register with the Ministry of Labor which, by 
judicial decision, is bound to receive and record their 
registration.  The primary source of continuing restriction is 
the system of labor courts, which retain the right to review 
the registration of new unions and to adjudicate conflicts over 
their formation.  Otherwise, unions are independent of the 
Government and of political parties.

Approximately 20 to 30 percent of the Brazilian workforce is 
organized, with just over half of this number affiliated with 
an independent labor central.  (Mandatory labor organization 
under the 1943 Labor Code encompassed a larger percentage of 
the workforce, but many workers are believed to have minimal if 
any contact with these unions.)  Attacks on rural labor 
organizers continued (see Section 1.a.).  The Constitution 
provides for the right to strike (excepting, again, military, 
police, and firemen, but including other civil servants).  
Enabling legislation passed in 1989 stipulates that essential 
services remain in operation during a strike and that workers 
notify employers at least 48 hours before beginning a walkout.

The Constitution prohibits government interference in labor 
unions but provides that "abuse" of the right to strike (such 
as not maintaining essential services, or failure to end a 
strike after a labor court decision) is punishable by law.  
Federal and civil police, federal customs inspectors, port 
crane operators, public and private bus drivers and fare 
collectors, train and ferry operators, public and private 
teachers, and federal and state government employees went on 
strike in 1993.  Formerly, the courts ruled virtually 
automatically that strikes were abusive; over the last several 
years, however, the courts have applied the law with more 
discretion.  The 1989 strike law prohibits firings or the 
hiring of substitute workers during a strike, with certain 
exceptions and provided the strike is not ruled abusive.  
Nonetheless, some strikers were fired, with relief available 
only through a usually lengthy court process.  The president 
and a number of directors of the National Aeronautical Workers' 
Union were fired by Varig and Vasp airlines after a February 
1988 strike.  Some were subsequently rehired, but the then 
president and five directors have remained without work, and 
their labor court cases are still pending.

Although Brazilian laws make no provision for a central labor 
organization, three major groups have emerged:  the Sole 
Workers Central (CUT), the General Workers Confederation (CGT), 
and Forca Sindical.  Although the centrals do not have legal 
standing to represent professional categories of workers, all 
three centrals can effectively acquire such standing by 
affiliating existing statewide federations or nationwide 
confederations, or by forming new federations and 
confederations, challenging the old structure.  However, the 
status of the federations and confederations created since 1991 
remains in doubt as a result of a challenge in the labor courts 
by the old organizations.

Unions and centrals are free to affiliate internationally.  
CUT, Forca Sindical, and CGT are affiliated with the ICFTU.  A 
small splinter organization, the General Workers Central, 
affiliated with the formerly Soviet-controlled World Federation 
of Trade Unions in March 1993.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right to organize is provided for by the Constitution.  
With some government assistance, businesses and unions are 
working to expand and improve mechanisms of collective 
bargaining.  Nevertheless, under current Brazilian law, the 
scope of issues susceptible to collective bargaining is 
narrow.  Further, the labor court system exercises normative 
powers with regard to the settlement of labor disputes, thereby 
discouraging direct negotiation.  Existing law charges these 
same courts, as well as the Labor Ministry, with mediation 
responsibility in the preliminary stages of dispute settlement.
Wages are set by free negotiation in many cases, and in others 
by labor court decision.  Beginning in 1990, the Federal 
Government attempted to control salary increases in order to 
limit inflation, but the attempts appeared to have little 
effect on wage settlements in the private sector.

The Constitution incorporates a provision from the Labor Code 
which prohibits the dismissal of employees who are candidates 
for or holders of union leadership positions.  Nonetheless, 
dismissals take place, with those dismissed required to resort 
to a usually lengthy court process for relief.  For example, in 
the case of 12 directors of the Metalworkers' Union of Limeira 
(Sao Paulo state) removed from their jobs by employers in 1989, 
judicial actions were still under way against the companies.  
In general, enforcement of laws protecting union members from 
discrimination lacks effectiveness.  Union officials estimate 
that some 5 percent of such cases reaching the labor court 
system are resolved within days through a preliminary judicial 
order.  The other 95 percent generally take 5 to 10 years (and 
sometimes more) to resolve.

Labor law applies uniformly throughout Brazil, including the 
free trade zones.  However, the unions in the Manaus free trade 
zone, like rural unions and many unions in smaller cities, are 
relatively weaker vis-a-vis industry as compared to unions in 
the major industrial cities in the southeast.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Although the Constitution prohibits forced labor, there were 
repeated credible citations of cases of forced labor in 
Brazil.  The Federal Government asserted it was taking steps to 
halt the practice and prosecute perpetrators but admitted that 
existing enforcement resources are inadequate.  Reports of 
forced labor and debt bondage were common in rural areas in 
particular.  In 1993 the Catholic Church's Pastoral Land 
Commission denounced a notable increase from 1991 to 1992 of 
persons confined to farms and forced to work without pay (from 
4,883 persons to 16,442 persons), and projected a continuation 
of the problem into 1994.  Of these persons, 8,000 were forced 
to work in a single charcoal production operation in Mato 
Grosso do Sul.

During 1993 cases of forced labor also were reported in the 
following states:  Bahia, Maranhao, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, 
Para, Parana, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa 
Catarina, and Sao Paulo.  Forced labor was reportedly involved 
in another case in charcoal for use in producing exported steel 
and (along with child labor--see below) in production of sugar 
for export.  A provision in the 1993 Agricultural Reform Law 
provides for the confiscation of property in cases of slave 
labor, but this law is unlikely to have significant impact 
without extensive enforcement.

State and federal authorities often did not investigate reports 
of compulsory labor, claiming lack of resources.  Local police 
admitted that overseers or owners of many farms withheld pay 
from migrant laborers, using force to retain and intimidate 
them.  Jurisdiction for such violations falls to the Ministry 
of Labor, which has allocated insufficient resources for 
enforcement.  In 1993 the International Labor Organization 
(ILO), while appreciating "the cooperative attitude now shown 
by the Government," noted continuing reports of "very serious 
violations of basic provisions" of ILO Convention No. 29 on 
forced labor.  The ILO recommended that the Government 
strengthen its system of labor inspection, particularly in 
rural areas.  The ILO cited reports of a decrease in the number 
of labor inspections, and that successive changes in the 
Ministry of Labor had resulted in the discontinuation of 
programs, including the rural labor inspection program.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum working age under the Constitution is 14, except 
for apprentices.  Legal restrictions intended to protect 
working minors under age 18 are often not enforced, however, 
and the problem is widespread.  Judges can authorize employment 
for children under 14 when they feel it appropriate.  (The ILO 
noted in 1992 that the Constitutional provision for 
apprenticeships under age 14 is not in accordance with ILO 
Convention No. 5 on minimum age in industry.)  By law, the 
permission of the parents or guardians is required for minors 
to work, and provision must be made for them to attend school 
through the primary grades.  All minors are barred from night 
work and from work that constitutes a physical strain.  Minors 
are also prohibited from employment in unhealthful, dangerous, 
or morally harmful conditions.

Despite these legal restrictions, however, official figures 
state that nearly 3 million children, 10 to 14 years of age (or 
4.6 percent of the work force), were employed.  Of these, 
46.4 percent worked 8 hours or more per day, while 96.3 percent 
of this group received not more than the minimum salary.  The 
ILO has received reports alleging that millions of children are 
subjected to forced labor.

In late 1992, the ILO began the "IPEC" project to move children 
out of the Brazilian workforce.  A draft report prepared under 
this project in 1993 indicated that some 40 percent of the 
employees of independent shoe manufacturers in Franca (Sao 
Paulo state) were children under 14, employed in violation of 
the law.  The approximately 1,000 independent contractors 
employ up to 20 percent of the 35,000 workers in the Franca 
shoe industry.  Among this 20 percent, researchers found some 
2,000 children under 14 years of age.  Most are exposed at work 
to poisonous and addictive fumes from shoe glue.  From January 
1992 through January 1993, a further 397 children from 13 to 
14 years of age were authorized by courts to work in Franca 
shoe factories.  According to figures cited in the report, 45 
percent of Franca's 1992 cottage industry shoe production was 
exported to the United States and elsewhere.  A June 1993 
agreement by manufacturers to eliminate these child workers did 
not prove effective.

A 3-year study of sugar cane production in Pernambuco state 
found that 30 percent of the work force was made up of children 
and adolescents from 7 to 17 years of age, many cutting cane 
with machetes.  About 10 percent of the sugar is exported.

Specific reports of minors working illegally were also noted 
from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (street vendors), Rio de 
Janeiro (nightclubs), Bahia and Sao Paulo (sugar cane 
harvesting), and Rio Grande do Sul (tree resin extraction and 
logging).  Although defenders of the current situation asserted 
that economic conditions often compel children to contribute 
income to their families, research undertaken for the ILO 
indicated that the subminimum wages of such children have 
little if any effect on their economic condition.  Further, the 
employment largely or completely eliminates any chance for 
education and for subsequent economic improvement.

Enforcement of child labor laws is severely limited because the 
Ministry of Labor, the responsible agency, deploys too few 
inspectors and is influenced by a widely held view that it is 
better for minors to work than to be involved in street crime.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

As of July 1993, the national minimum wage was adjusted every 
month.  Based on exchange rates at the end of month, when most 
workers are paid, the minimum wage was $63.66 in November 1993, 
and $58.46 in December.  The Interunion Department for 
Socioeconomic Studies and Statistics estimated that the minimum 
wage is less than one-fifth of the minimum necessary (based on 
a standard set by the 1988 Constitution) to support a family of 
four.  The most recently available national survey (for 1990) 
showed that 35 percent of economically active individuals, 
including minors from 10 to 14 years of age, earned no more 
than the minimum wage.  Many workers, particularly outside the 
regulated economy and in the northeast, reportedly earned less 
than the minimum wage.

The 1988 Constitution limits the workweek to 44 hours and 
specifies a weekly rest period, "preferably on Sundays."  This 
rest period is for 24 consecutive hours.  The Constitution 
expanded pay and fringe benefits and established new 
protections for agricutural and domestic workers; however, not 
all of its provisions have been enforced.

Many Brazilian workers suffer from unsafe working conditions.  
Occupational health and safety standards are set by the 
Fundacentro, which is under the Ministry of Labor.  Enforcement 
of these standards is inconsistent because the Ministry deploys 
insufficient resources for adequate inspection and enforcement.

There were also credible allegations of corruption within the 
enforcement system.  If a worker has a problem in the workplace 
and has trouble getting relief directly from his employer, he 
or his union can file a claim with the regional labor court, 
although in practice this is frequently a cumbersome, 
protracted process.

Brazilian law requires the establishment in work places of 
Internal Commissions for Accident Prevention.  Employee members 
of these commissions are protected under law from being fired 
for commission activities.  Such firings, however, do occur, 
and legal recourse usually requires years for resolution.  
Incomplete figures for workplace accidents and fatalities in 
1992 (authorities estimate they have 92 percent of the data) 
showed 512,292 reported accidents, of which 3,390 were fatal 
and 16,706 caused permanent disabilities.  These data 
undoubtedly understate the problem, because they only measure 
about one-half the workers in a work force of approximately 
64.5 million.  (###) 

[end of document]


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