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Brazil is a constitutional federal republic comprising 26 states
and the federal district.  In 1994 voters elected a new 
President, two-thirds of the Senate, 513 federal deputies, 
27 governors, and members of state legislatures.  It was the 
second time since the end of military rule that Brazilians 
freely chose their President and renewed the legislative bodies 
in accordance with the 1988 Constitution.  Fernando Henrique 
Cardoso became President on January 1, 1995, and will serve a 
4-year term, reduced from 5 years by a 1994 constitutional 

Security forces in Brazil fall primarily under the control of 
the states.  State police are divided into two forces:  the 
civil police, with an investigative role, and the uniformed, 
"military" police, who are responsible for maintaining public 
order.  According to the Constitution, the states' military 
police must serve as army reserves; they maintain some vestiges 
of military privileges, including special judicial systems.  
Brazil's federal police force is very small and plays little 
role in maintaining internal security.  The military police 
courts (distinct from the armed forces' courts-martial) are 
overloaded, seldom conduct rigorous investigations of fellow 
officers, and rarely convict them.  The separate system of 
state military police courts creates a climate of impunity for 
police elements involved in extrajudicial killings or abuse of 
prisoners, which is the single largest obstacle to altering 
police behavior to eliminate such abuses.

Brazil exports primary products and has a large industrial 
sector.  Gross domestic product was $456 billion in 1993, and 
the economy grew at a rate of 5 percent in 1994.  The 
Government issued a new currency in July and brought down the 
rate of inflation from 50 percent a month to less than 2 
percent by September.  Large disparities in income distribution 
continued, with the poorest fifth of the population receiving 
only 2 percent of the national income, while the richest tenth 
hold 51 percent.

The most serious human rights abuses continued to be some 
instances of extrajudicial killings and torture committed by 
the police.  Justice is slow and unreliable, especially in 
rural areas where powerful landowners use violence to settle 
land disputes and influence the local judiciary.  In urban 
areas, the police are frequently implicated in killings and 
abuse of prisoners, but the special police courts rarely 
investigate effectively or bring the accused to trial.  Regular 
courts did take up two high-profile cases of extrajudicial 
killing, and both cases were still pending at year's end (see 
Section 1.a.).  The poor, predominantly from racial minorities, 
bear the brunt of most violence, whether committed by the 
police or by criminals.  Indigenous peoples, despite 
constitutional guarantees, remain the victims of abuse and 
neglect, with continued invasions of their land.  Laws against 
forced labor are not adequately enforced, and children are 
exploited in the sugar and charcoal industries.  A free press 
and active human rights organizations expose abuses and demand 
action to stop them.  The Federal Government has made efforts 
to respond to human rights abuses.


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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Extrajudicial killings continued to be a serious problem 
throughout the country.  There are no reliable statistics on 
the number of people that police, vigilante groups, or hired 
gunmen murder annually.  City morgue statistics frequently fail 
to distinguish between murder and accident victims.  The police 
investigations in 90 percent of the cases were insufficient for 
any judicial action, according to a recent study of 3,236 
homicide victims in Rio de Janeiro by the Higher Institute for 
Studies of Religion (ISER).  In Sao Paulo, the official 
statistics on the number of civilians killed by police fail to 
include those who are wounded and die later in the hospital.  
According to these statistics, the number of civilians killed 
by Sao Paulo state's military police dropped from an average of 
86 per month in 1991 and 1992 to 21 per month in 1994.  No 
national figures are available, but this drop in killings in 
Brazil's largest city is significant.  Both lethal and 
nonlethal confrontations with police have fallen steadily since 
1991.  Human rights groups attributed this decrease to the 
state government's appointment of a new state secretary for 
public security who made clear that abuses would have to stop.  
This leadership, along with courses in human rights, internal 
transfers, and the threat of punishment reduced the number of 

The special police courts have not yet tried the 120 police 
accused of the 1992 Carandiru prison massacre.  The police 
prosecutor predicted he would conclude this case with 
convictions in early 1995, but other lawyers following the 
trial estimated that it would take much longer.  (Police courts 
are special courts with jurisdiction over the state police; see 
Section 1.e.)

In Rio de Janeiro, the execution-style killing of street 
children continued, according to reliable reports from 
organizations aiding the youths.  Five policemen, indicted for 
the July 1993 killings of eight street children in downtown 
Candalaria square, were still in jail awaiting trial by regular 
courts.  Their case was kept out of the special police courts 
because they were not on duty at the time and apparently did 
not use police equipment in the crime.  Similarly, the regular 
court system is trying the cases of 33 members of the police 
gang accused of murdering 21 Vigario Geral residents in 1993, 
but the number of the defendants and appeals involved means the 
case is moving very slowly, with no trial date set.  One of the 
defendants escaped from custody of his fellow policemen; two 
others fled before being arrested.

Despite efforts to prosecute the most notorious police crimes 
and to improve training, the Rio de Janeiro state government 
made little progress in stopping the high number of murders in 
Rio de Janeiro.  Some crimes appear to be politically 
motivated, such as the murder of two black Workers' Party (PT) 
activists June 13.  Unknown gunmen killed the two PT members 
shortly after they denounced police crimes at a party meeting 
to discuss security issues; police investigating the murder 
accused a common criminal.

On October 31, the Government sent in the armed forces to 
control crime in Rio de Janeiro, placing civil and military 
police forces under the command of a general.  The joint 
military-police operations to seize arms and drugs in Rio's 
slums have been essentially nonviolent and popular with the 
city's residents.  Military authorities denied allegations of 
illegal searches and arrests, saying they have worked closely 
with judges to obtain the necessary warrants.  The authorities 
are investigating media reports of beatings and mistreatment.

In the state of Sao Paulo, the June 11 murder of a union 
organizer and his wife, members of the Socialist Party of 
Unified Workers (PSTU), appeared to be a professional killing, 
with few clues found by police investigators.  Colleagues of 
the couple in the town of Sao Carlos believe they were killed 
to prevent a repeat of the successful strike they organized 
against the local sugar refineries in 1993.

Throughout Brazil, local human rights organizations point to 
excessive use of force by police.  The police killed Fernando 
Neves, an employee of the Sao Martinho association for street 
children, shooting him four times as he rode his bicycle home 
crossing the path of police pursuing a car thief.  Neves' 
family received threats for demanding an investigation, and the 
police officers identified by an internal inquiry as 
responsible for the shooting remained on active duty.  Rio de 
Janeiro's governor acknowledged police abuses, including 
summary executions, in the October 18 raid against drug gangs 
in the Nova Brasilia slum that resulted in 13 deaths.  In the 
southern state of Santa Catarina, state military policemen were 
accused of shooting an unarmed, escaped prisoner 12 times.  The 
authorities in Rio Grande do Sul held state military policemen 
responsible for the killing of a prisoner in his hospital bed; 
he had been recovering from wounds received in a gunfight that 
left a policeman dead.

The Luiz Freire Cultural Center/Legal Advisory Service, a 
prominent human rights group in the northeastern state of 
Pernambuco, reported the number of murders there were on the 
increase, with a total of 1,847 between January 1993 and July 
1994.  In those cases in which the killers could be identified 
by some evidence, the group attributed 11 percent of the 
murders to extermination squads and 5 percent to police.

In the northeastern state of Alagoas, the governor's temporary 
appointment of an army colonel to command police forces in 1993 
dramatically reduced the number of murders involving the state 
military police.  The Permanent Forum against Violence in 
Alagoas, a locally prominent human rights group, implicated the 
police in only 56 out of the 434 murders in Alagoas in the 
first half of 1994, in contrast to 1992 when human rights 
monitors attributed 80 percent of 600 homicides to police 

A high crime rate, a failure to apprehend most criminals, and 
an inept criminal justice system all contribute to public 
acquiescence in police brutality and killings of criminal 
suspects.  Acts of intimidation, including death threats 
against witnesses, prosecutors, judges, and human rights 
monitors, often hindered investigation into these incidents.   
Sao Paulo state military police prosecutors Stella Kuhlman and 
Marco Antonio Ferreira Lima received death threats warning them 
to stop investigating police crimes; Kuhlman found a bloodied 
doll and a miniature casket left inside her office as a 
warning.  Another Sao Paulo prosecutor investigating police 
corruption, Eliana Passarelli, was threatened.  In Rio de 
Janeiro, judges, the chief prosecutor investigating police 
links to organized crime, and workers aiding street children 
have all received death threats.  An international lawyers' 
committee report emphasized the extraordinarily high rate of 
threats against judges and lawyers in Brazil.

In rural areas in the north and northeast, landowners often 
intimidated judges, lawyers, and police by violence and threats 
of violence.  For example, in the northern state of Para, the 
mayor of Xinguara and several landowners stand accused of 
plotting the murder of a rural union leader in 1991, but their 
cases have yet to be tried.  In 1994, eight persons were 
killed, three escaped attempts on their lives, and several 
families fled Xinguara after learning their names were on the 
landowners' "death list."  These death lists include not just 
rural union leaders, but anyone believed to be on the side of 
squatters, such as shopkeepers who sell to them.  Landowners 
also threatened three Catholic priests, including father 
Ricardo Rezende of the neighboring town of Rio Maria.  Local 
officials, who are linked to the mayor, took no action to 
investigate the killings or to protect those on the death list.

On June 23 in Rio Maria, where six rural union leaders have 
been gunned down since 1985, the authorities tried the man 
accused of the attempted murder of union leader Carlos Cabral.  
The defendant confessed to firing the shots, and witnesses 
testified that he earlier had offered them money to kill 
Cabral.  The local jury ruled the crime was not premeditated, 
however, and the judge gave the gunman a suspended sentence.  
In contrast, when a court granted a change of venue from Rio 
Maria to the state capital of Belem 600 miles away, a jury 
convicted the ex-policeman hired to kill Cabral's two fellow 
union leaders.  The judge sentenced the killer to 50 years in 
prison, but he escaped with three other inmates on October 24.  
The authorities have not brought any of the landowners who 
contracted for the killings to trial.

However, on December 16 the courts convicted a gunman, and the 
ranch foreman who hired him, of killing union leader Expedito 
de Souze in 1991, and sentenced them to 24- and 21-year prison 
terms.  However, the ranch owner--also accused of the 
crime--failed to appear for trial.  Despite a warrant for his 
arrest, he remains at large (see Section 1.e.).

The Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) reported 
that land disputes resulted in 52 persons murdered in 1993, and 
the CPT reported 37 such murders in the first 10 months of 1994.

The high level of crime and the failings of the judicial system 
also contribute to public tolerance of vigilante lynchings of 
suspected criminals.  Lynchings occurred in all regions of the 
country, but the state of Bahia had the record number of 
lynchings--84--in 1993, and mobs killed 15 persons there in the 
first 8 months of 1994.  In Salto de Lontra, in the southern 
state of Parana, a mob took an accused murderer out of the 
police lockup in April and killed him while police watched.

There continued to be reports of murders of homosexuals, where 
the identity of the killers remains unknown.  In the Porto 
Alegre area, such assailants murdered five transvestites, while 
others have been beaten and robbed.  On October 8, a military 
police court in Sao Paulo reduced the sentence of a policeman 
convicted of killing a transvestite from 12 to 6 years, noting 
that being a transvestite was a "high risk" activity.  
Prosecutors said they would appeal the decision, and several 
prosecutors and law professors characterized the court's action 
as illegal.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated abductions.  
Human rights groups often blamed the police or vigilante groups 
for the disappearance of street children or persons believed to 
be criminals.

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

The Constitution prohibits torture and contains severe legal 
penalties for torture or acquiescence in it.  Yet the absence 
of any law defining torture has led to nearly total impunity.  
On June 23, a divided Supreme Court ruled on a torture case; 
five justices voted to absolve a policeman, based on the 
argument that Congress had failed to incorporate torture into 
the Penal Code, but six justices prevailed to convict the 
defendant based on the statutes defining norms for juvenile 
justice, which specify penalties for torture.  (The victim was 
a minor when he was beaten into confessing a crime in August 

There are frequent credible reports that police beat and 
torture criminal suspects to extract information, confessions, 
or money.  In Rio de Janeiro, law enforcement officials have 
acknowledged that physical abuse of prisoners is common, and in 
September the civil police established a special unit to 
investigate charges of torture.  In the state of Ceara, the Bar 
Association reported that a police inspector charged with one 
case of torture in 1993 was later found to be involved in 16 
other incidents, but the inspector remained on the force while 
criminal proceedings continued more than a year later.

Brazil's overcrowded prisons held 128,465 inmates in space 
designed for 51,368.  There are often six to eight prisoners in 
a cell meant for three; some prisoners force others to pay for 
the use of a bed.  The Ministry of Justice reported that 
rebellions average 2 per day, attempted or successful escapes, 
3 per day.  The Archbishop of Ceara, Aloisio Lorscheider, after 
investigating conditions at a prison near Fortaleza on March 15 
(and being held hostage temporarily), reported to the city 
council about torture of prisoners, "food not fit for 
cockroaches," and lack of hygiene.

     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 authorities usually respect the constitutional 
provision for a judicial determination of the legality of 
detention, 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, but a judge may 
extend this period.  However, the police sometimes detain 
street youths illegally without a judicial order or hold them 
in incommunicado detention.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is an independent branch of government, but in 
many instances it is unable to ensure the right to fair trial.  
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, 
elections, juveniles, and family matters.

Special police courts have jurisdiction over the state military 
police; the record of these courts shows that punishment is the 
exception rather than the rule.  A human rights group in the 
northeast, studying police crimes against civilians judged in 
police courts over two decades (1970-1991), found only 8 
percent of the cases resulted in convictions.  In Sao Paulo, 
another study found that only 5 percent result in convictions.  
The courts (which are separate from the courts martial of the 
armed forces, except for the final appeals court) are composed 
of four ranking military police officials and one civilian 
judge.  With too few judges for the caseload, there are 
backlogs, and human rights groups report a lack of zeal among 
police charged with investigating fellow officers.  An attempt 
in Congress to pass a law giving ordinary courts jurisdiction 
over police crimes against civilians remained stalled in 1994.

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, the court must provide one at public 
expense; courts are supposed to appoint private attorneys to 
represent poor defendants when public defenders are 
unavailable, but there is often a de facto lack of defense.  
Juries try only cases of willful crimes against life; a judge 
tries all others.

The right to a fair public trial, as provided for by law, is 
generally respected in practice, although in rural areas the 
judiciary is less capable and more subject to the influence of 
local landowners, particularly in cases related to indigenous 
peoples and rural union activists.  Local police are less 
zealous in investigating, prosecutors are reluctant to initiate 
proceedings, and judges find reasons to delay when cases 
involve gunmen contracted by landowners to eliminate squatters 
or rural union activists.

The need for judicial reform is widely recognized because the 
current system is inefficient, with backlogs of cases and 
shortages of judges.  In Manaus the authorities took no action 
in 80 percent of the crimes against life that should have gone 
to juries, due to insufficient police action to gather evidence.
Out of 176 townships in the northeast state of Pernambuco, 
73 do not have a judge.  Low pay, combined with exacting 
competitive exams that in some years eliminate 90 percent of 
the applicants, makes it difficult to fill vacancies on the 
bench.  Due to the backlog of cases, under the Brazilian system 
where a trial must be held within a certain period of time from 
the date of the crime (similar to a statute of limitations), 
old cases are frequently dismissed.  According to a former 
judge, this encourages corrupt judges purposely to delay 
certain cases so they can be dismissed.

     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 occurs in searches for criminal suspects.  A women's 
rights group in the city of Porto Alegre reported suspected 
police involvement in five break-ins at its offices--each time 
its files on spousal abuse and finances were ransacked.  
Wiretaps are unconstitutional except when authorized by a 
judicial authority for purposes of criminal investigation and 
prosecution.  The inviolability of private correspondence is 

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The 1988 Constitution abolished all forms of censorship and 
provides for the right to free speech and to a free press.  The 
authorities respect these rights in practice.  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; but the 
Government controls licensing authority and politicians 
frequently obtain the licenses.  Eighteen television and 115 
radio stations are owned by current or former congressmen, some 
of whom are or were members of the committee overseeing 
communications.  Newspapers and magazines, which are privately 
owned, vigorously report and comment on government performance.

Congress is considering changing the penalty for libel under 
the 1967 Press Law--a prison term--which judges consider 
extreme.  The Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper called current legal 
regulation of the press "an archaic and authoritarian press law 
inherited from the military regime."  The 1994 Inter-American 
Press Association (IAPA) report on freedom of the press in 
Brazil said, "there has been increasing recourse to the (1967) 
press law, especially by the executive and the judiciary, 
against journalists."  According to the report, the courts 
tried seven journalists and a labor leader for libel and 
defamation of character under this law after complaints by the 
executive branch; they jailed one and freed the others as 
first-time offenders.  Lucio Flavio Pinto, an independent 
journalist in Belem, Para state, had to close his weekly 
newsletter in order to defend himself against the suits brought 
by the owners of the city's major newspaper for libel and 
defamation under the 1967 press law.  The IAPA also called for 
an investigation into the February killing of a newspaper 
publisher in Vitoria da Conquista, Bahia state.  In the state 
of Sergipe, four journalists received death threats after 
criticizing the police in their newsletter.

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.

Academic freedom is respected.

     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.  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, and citizens exercised 
this right in 1994, filling executive and legislative offices 
throughout the country.  Brazilians chose the President, 
two-thirds of the Senate, 513 federal deputies, 27 governors, 
and members of state assemblies from a multitude of parties and 

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.  In the 
1994 elections, voters elected 1 female governor and 34 women 
to the Chamber of Deputies (out of 513 seats).  Five women 
serve in the Senate (out of 81).  The 1988 Constitution gave 
Indians the franchise, but their ability to protect their own 
interests is severely limited (see Section 5).  Eight Indian 
candidates ran for office in 1994, but none was elected.

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.  Government 
entities, such as the Ministry of Justice's secretaries for 
citizenship and human rights or the federal prosecutor's 
office, respond readily to inquiries about human rights cases 
and launch their own investigations.

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, yet women, blacks, and 
indigenous people continued to experience discrimination.


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 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.  One Rio de Janeiro office reported that 
more women were submitting complaints, which increased from 80 
per month in 1993 to 300 per month in 1994, and that 80 percent 
of the complaints involved spousal abuse.  Both Porto Alegre 
and Sao Paulo, which has 120 police offices for women, found a 
similar trend of more women reporting complaints.  The women 
generally asked police to talk to their husbands, rather than 
taking legal action.

In rural areas, women have little recourse since there are no 
specialized police offices available to them.  Men who commit 
crimes against women, including sexual assault and murder, are 
unlikely to be brought to trial.  Although the Supreme Court 
struck down in 1991 the archaic concept of "defense of honor" 
as a justification for wife murder, courts are still reluctant 
to prosecute and convict men who attack their wives.


Despite progressive laws to protect children and a growing 
awareness of their plight through media and NGO campaigns, the 
Government still has not been able to help millions of children 
who fail to get an education, who work to survive, and who 
suffer from the poverty afflicting their families.  A 1994 
report issued by the Brazilian Institute for Geography and 
Statistics indicated that upwards of 2 million children between 
10 and 13 years of age work, many of them together with their 
parents, under conditions approximating forced labor or debt 
bondage (see Section 6.d.).  Many other children are found 
begging on the streets of cities.

There are no reliable figures on the number of street children, 
some of whom are homeless, but the majority of whom return home 
at night.  In Rio de Janeiro, an organization aiding street 
children estimated that 30,000 frequent the streets by day, but 
less than 1,000 probably sleep there.  NGO's have made enough 
shelters available for homeless children, but some prefer the 
freedom and drugs that street life offers.  In Sao Paulo, a 
survey of street children published in March found 4,500 on the 
streets by day and 900 at night, but the survey's methodology 
has been criticized because surveyors worked from cars, without 
walking into dark alleys.  The Government response to the 
plight of street children has been slow and ineffective.  For 
example, the Sao Paulo State Council for the Rights of Children 
has never acquired meeting space nor have its government 
members been named.

The report of a congressional investigating committee on child 
prostitution, published in June, called for more targeted 
social programs, changes in the Penal Code, and enforcement of 
existing laws to protect children, noting police complicity in 
child prostitution in most states.  The committee concluded 
that there was no evidence to back the claim that an estimated 
500,000 minors are involved in prostitution in Brazil, but they 
found appalling cases in all 10 states visited.  In Rio de 
Janeiro, a study cited by the committee found 500 girls between 
the ages of 8 and 15 involved in prostitution, all of them glue 
sniffers or drug users, most first raped at an early age.

     Indigenous People

Brazil's approximately 250,000 Indians, who speak 170 different 
languages, have a constitutional right to their traditional 
lands.  In practice, however, the authorities allow most 
indigenous peoples only limited participation in decisions 
affecting their lands, cultures, traditions, and the allocation 
of natural resources.  The 1988 Constitution charged the 
Federal Government with demarcating 519 indigenous areas within 
5 years, but the authorities have yet to complete more than 
half the demarcations and entitling decrees.  The lower house 
of Congress passed a law in 1994 to implement constitutional 
provisions with respect to Indian rights, but the Senate took 
no action.

The Constitution provides Indians the exclusive use of the 
soil, waters, and minerals found in their lands, subject to 
congressional authorization.  The legal regulations necessary 
for economic exploitation are still pending before the Senate 
as part of the Indian rights bill.  Illegal mining, logging, 
and ranching are a constant problem on Indian lands, as an 
estimated 84 percent of them have been occupied by 
non-Indians.  Approximately 2,500 gold miners reentered the 
Yanomami reserve in the state of Roraima in 1994, causing 
another surge in the number of Indians dying from malaria and 
other diseases.  Malaria killed at least 26 Yanomami, in part 
due to the Federal Government's failure to provide adequate 
medical care for indigenous peoples.

The 1993 case against the Brazilian gold miners who killed 16 
Yanomami on the Venezuelan side of the border remains mired in 
legal problems.  None of the accused miners are in custody.  
Yanomami witnesses failed to recognize two of the accused, and 
other witnesses have disappeared.  Also in Roraima state, four 
Macuxi Indians were murdered in the Raposa-Serra do Sol area, 
which is still not demarcated because the order has been 
stalled in the Justice Minister's office for more than a year.

The Catholic Church's Indigenist Council reported in 1993 that 
more than 7,400 Indians were trapped into forced labor (see 
section 6.c.).  The majority were Guarani Indians in the state 
of Mato Grosso do Sul.  With 10 Guarani communities embroiled 
in legal battles for their land, there were a few victories in 
1994.  The Sete Cerros Guarani won a federal Supreme Court 
order to stop a local federal judge from granting ranchers the 
right to occupy demarcated Guarani land.  The regional appeals 
court in Sao Paulo ruled in favor of the Jaguari community, 
ordering FUNAI to restore the Guarani to their homeland and 
evict the non-Indians.  FUNAI carried out the order with police 
assistance.  In Para state, the Xikrim Indians won a court 
injunction blocking two major logging firms from extracting 
mahogany from their lands.

In the absence of government action, indigenous groups have 
begun to take matters into their own hands.  Xerente Indians in 
Tocantins successfully stopped the state government from 
building a road into their territory by seizing the site.  (The 
state government had ignored a federal injunction supporting 
the Xerente.)  In September Kayapo Indians decided to expel 
2,000 gold miners from their territory, forcing the local 
government and federal authorities to deal with the problem.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Although racial discrimination has been illegal since 1951, 
darker-skinned Brazilians frequently encounter 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.  They 
assert that racial discrimination becomes most evident when 
blacks seek employment, housing, or educational opportunities.

The news magazine Veja reported that whites in the 
predominantly black city of Salvador, Bahia, earn on average 
three times more than blacks, while in the southern city of 
Curitiba, whites earned 1.5 times the black average.  The 
magazine attributed the difference between the two cities to 
better public education in the south.  In many southern cities, 
however, municipal governments try to prevent the migration of 
poor families from the northeast, who are often identified by 
their color.  For example, city officials in Blumenau, Santa 
Catarina state, routinely screen incoming bus passengers and 
strongly encourage those who are nonwhite and without 
employment to leave on the next bus.

Racism, as a crime, is difficult to prove in courts, although 
both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have designated special 
police units to investigate it.  When a black activist, Jane 
Makebe, was told by a friend that she lost a job with a 
cellular phone company because the owner did not want any black 
employees, she filed a complaint with Sao Paulo's racial crimes 
police.  However, the witness, Makebe's friend, refused to 
testify for fear of losing her job.

     People with Disabilities

The 1988 Constitution contains several provisions for the 
disabled, stipulating a minimum salary, educational 
opportunities, and access to public buildings as well as public 
transportation.  Groups that work with the disabled, however, 
report that state governments completely failed to meet the 
legally mandated targets for educational opportunities and work 
placement.  The elimination of architectural barriers to the 
disabled made little progress; the mayor's office in Recife 
(Brazil's sixth largest city) conducted a survey of 30 public 
buildings, finding none with adequate access for the 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Labor Code provides for union representation of all workers 
(excepting military, military police, and firemen) but imposes 
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.  The 1988 Constitution freed workers to organize new 
unions out of old ones without prior authorization from the 
Government but retained other provisions of the old Code.  
Elements of Brazil's labor movement and the International 
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) criticize the 
retention of unicidade and the union tax.

In practice, 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 work force is 
organized, with just over half of this number affiliated with 
an independent labor central.  Intimidation of rural labor 
union organizers by landowners and their agents continues to be 
a problem (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 must remain in operation during a strike and 
that workers must 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 police, federal customs inspectors, bankworkers, 
autoworkers, oilworkers, teachers, and federal and state 
government employees went on strike in 1994.  Formerly, the 
courts ruled virtually automatically that strikes were abusive; 
in recent years, however, the courts have applied the law with 
more discretion.  The 1989 strike law prohibits dismissals or 
the hiring of substitute workers during a strike, with certain 
exceptions, provided the strike is not ruled abusive.

Although the law makes 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.  The centrals do not have legal standing to 
represent professional categories of workers, but all three 
centrals can effectively acquire such standing by affiliating 
with existing statewide federations or nationwide 
confederations, or by forming new federations and 
confederations, challenging the old structure.  The status of 
the federations and confederations created since 1991 remains 
in doubt, however, as a result of a challenge in the labor 
courts by the old organizations.

Unions and centrals freely affiliate with international trade 
union organizations.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution provides for the right to organize.  With some 
government assistance, businesses and unions are working to 
expand and improve mechanisms of collective bargaining.  The 
scope of issues legally susceptible to collective bargaining is 
narrow, however, and the labor court system exercises normative 
powers with regard to the settlement of labor disputes, thus 
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.  In many cases, free negotiations set wages; labor 
court decisions set them in others.  The International Labor 
Organization (ILO) notes that important differences in wages 
continue to exist to the detriment of women and blacks, 
particularly in the rural sectors (see Section 5).  Beginning 
in 1990, the Federal Government attempted to control salary 
increases in order to limit inflation.  After introducing the 
new currency unit and an economic stabilization plan in 
mid-1994, the Government took an active role in auto industry 
negotiations to minimize the negative effect of a wage 
settlement on the economy.

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.  In general, the 
authorities do not effectively enforce laws protecting union 
members from discrimination.  Union officials estimate that 
only 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 equally in 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 centers.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Although the Constitution prohibits forced labor, there were 
credible reports of forced labor in many parts of Brazil.  The 
Federal Government admits that existing enforcement resources 
are inadequate.  In 1994, the Catholic Church's Pastoral Land 
Commission denounced 29 cases of forced labor, involving a 
total of 19,940 workers, an increase from the 16,442 reported 
in the previous year.  The CPT reported cases of forced labor 
in 12 different states, including many Guarani Indians in Mato 
Grosso do Sul.  Forced labor is common on farms producing 
charcoal for use in the iron foundries and steel industries, 
and in the sugar industry (see also Section 6.d.).

State and federal authorities have generally not conducted 
timely investigations of reports of compulsory labor, claiming 
lack of resources.  Local police admit that overseers or owners 
of many farms withhold pay from migrant laborers and use force 
to retain and intimidate them, but the jurisdiction for such 
violations falls to the Ministry of Labor, which has only 2,300 
inspectors for all Brazil.  Labor organizations alleged that in 
mining and the rural economy thousands of workers, including 
minors, are hired on the basis of false promises, subjected to 
debt bondage, with violence used to retain or punish workers 
who attempt to escape.

The Labor Ministry conducted investigations at the 29 alleged 
sites of forced labor the CPT reported to the International 
Labor Organization, and said it found no proof of forced 
labor.  The inspectors, however, did report violations of the 
Labor Code and subhuman working conditions.  The CPT noted that 
the delay--in some cases years--in investigating these sites, 
and the fact that employers were often alerted before the 
arrival of inspectors, made confirmation of forced labor 
unlikely, emphasizing the need for timely, surprise 
inspections.  In March the Labor Ministry issued regulations to 
guide inspectors in documenting forced labor, but NGO's and 
federal prosecutors report that enforcement remains a problem.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum working age under the Constitution is 14 years, 
except for apprentices.  Judges can authorize employment for 
children under 14 years of age when they feel it appropriate.  
The authorities rarely enforce legal restrictions intended to 
protect working minors under age 18, however, and the problem 
is widespread.  The law requires permission of the parents or 
guardians for minors to work, and they must attend school 
through the primary grades.  The law bars all minors from night 
work, work that constitutes a physical strain, and employment 
in unhealthful, dangerous, or morally harmful conditions.

Despite these legal restrictions, official figures state that 
nearly 3 million 10- to 14-year-old children (or 4.6 percent of 
the work force) were employed.  Many children are forced to 
work along side their parents in cane fields, cutting hemp, or 
feeding wood into charcoal ovens; frequent accidents, unhealthy 
working conditions, and squalor are common in these cases.  At 
sawmills in the state of Rondonia, 20 teenagers lost fingers or 
suffered other accidents but were not entitled to compensation 
because they were employed illegally.

Independent shoe manufacturers in Franca (Sao Paulo state) 
continue to employ thousands of children under age 14, in 
violation of the law.  Public prosecutors brought suit in 
November against five major Franca shoe manufacturers for 
illegally subcontracting work which led to the exploitation of 
child labor.  Sugar cane growers illegally employ children and 
adolescents from 7 to 17 years of age, many cutting cane with 
machetes.  Specific reports of minors working illegally also 
involve orange growers in Sao Paulo, street vendors in Rio de 
Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and mining and logging industries in the 
Amazon region.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcement of child 
labor laws, but it has too few inspectors to do so 
effectively.  The widely held view that it is better for minors 
to work than to be involved in street crime also hampers 
enforcement efforts.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Prior to July, the Government adjusted the national minimum 
wage every month.  With the midyear introduction of the 
economic stabilization plan, it set the minimum wage at $83 
(70 reals) per month.  The Interunion Department for 
Socioeconomic Studies and Statistics estimated that the minimum 
wage is less than one-fifth that 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 

The 1988 Constitution limits the workweek to 44 hours and 
specifies a weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours, 
preferably on Sundays.  The Constitution expanded pay and 
fringe benefits and established new protections for 
agricultural and domestic workers; however, the Government does 
not enforce all of these provisions.

Unsafe working conditions are prevalent throughout Brazil. 
Incomplete figures from the Government's Social Security 
Administration for workplace accidents and fatalities in 1993 
showed 412,293 reported accidents; 3,110 resulted in fatalities 
and 16,875 caused permanent disabilities.  Fundacentro, part of 
the Ministry of Labor, sets occupational health and safety 
standards.  However, the Ministry has insufficient resources 
for adequate inspection and enforcement of these standards.  
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.

The law requires employers to establish internal commissions 
for accident prevention in workplaces.  The law protects 
employee members of these commissions from being fired for 
commission activities.  Such firings, however, do occur, and 
legal recourse usually requires years for resolution.


[end of document]


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