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Title:  Brazil Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State 
Date:  March 1996 
 
 
 
 
                                  BRAZIL 
 
 
Brazil is a constitutional federal republic composed of 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 in 1985 that Brazilians freely chose their President and elected 
the legislative bodies in accordance with the 1988 Constitution.  
Fernando Henrique Cardoso became President on January 1 and will serve a 
4-year term, reduced from 5 years by a 1994 constitutional amendment. 
 
Police forces in Brazil fall primarily under the control of the states.  
State police are divided into two forces:  the civil police, who have an 
investigative role, and the uniformed, "military" police, who are 
responsible for maintaining public order.  According to the 
Constitution, the states' military police serve as army reserves; they 
maintain some residual military privileges, including separate judicial 
systems.  The federal police force is very small and plays little role 
in maintaining internal security.  The state police are charged with 
serious human rights abuses. 
 
Brazil has a market-based economy, although governments traditionally 
played a dominant role in shaping economic development.  The Government 
is encouraging greater private sector participation in the economy 
through privatization of state enterprises, deregulation, and removal of 
impediments to competition.  Industrial production, including mining 
operations, and a large and diversified capital goods sector, accounts 
for approximately 35 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); 
agriculture contributes about 12 percent.  Brazil exports both 
manufactured and primary goods.  Among the principal exports are coffee, 
soybeans, textiles, leather, metallurgical products, and transportation 
equipment.  GDP was $565 billion in 1994, and the economy grew at a rate 
of 5.7 percent.  Large disparities in income distribution continue to 
exist, with the poorest fifth of the population earning only 2 percent 
of national income, while the richest tenth receive 51 percent. 
 
The most serious human rights abuses continued to be extrajudicial 
killings and torture.  Justice is slow and often 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 military police courts are overloaded, rarely investigate 
effectively or bring fellow officers to trial, and rarely convict 
abusers.  The separate system of state military police courts 
contributes to a climate of impunity for police elements involved in 
extrajudicial killings or abuse of prisoners and is thought to be the 
single largest obstacle to eliminating such abuses by police.  The poor 
bear the brunt of most violence, whether committed by the police or by 
criminals.  Prisons are severely overcrowded.  Violence against women 
and discrimination against women and minorities are problems.  Despite 
constitutional guarantees, indigenous people continue to be victimized 
by outsiders who encroach on Indian lands and to be neglected by 
governmental authorities.  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. 
 
Brazil was one two nations which assumed lead responsibility for 
coordinating the implementation of the human rights plank of the 
Declaration of Principles proclaimed at the December 1994 Summit of the 
Americas.  The Government took steps to address its human rights abuses.  
President Cardoso called for an end to impunity and harsh punishments 
for violators.  He criticized Congress for its failure to pass 
legislation defining torture, despite the constitutional requirement to 
do so, and for not strengthening the Council for the Defense of Human 
Rights located in the Ministry of Justice. 
 
The Government released its own report on human rights problems, 
appointed a ministerial-level task force on forced labor, and created 
roving inspection teams to clamp down on those using forced labor.  The 
Foreign Ministry created its own human rights department, while the 
federal police formed a special division to investigate human rights 
abuses and added a human rights component to the training curriculum for 
new agents.  The Chamber of Deputies created a standing human rights 
committee.  Both houses of Congress passed legislation to indemnify the 
families of political activists who disappeared during the military 
regime, and the President signed this law on December 4.  However, the 
increased commitment by politicians at the national level has yet to 
have a significant impact in states where human rights violations are 
most common. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
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 
murdered by police, vigilante groups, or hired gunmen since city morgue 
statistics frequently fail to distinguish between murder and accident 
victims.  However, a local human rights group in the northeastern state 
of Pernambuco attributed 10 percent of that state's homicides to the 
police.  The group speculates that the actual number may be higher since 
no suspects have been found in one-third of these cases.  According to a 
recent study in Rio de Janeiro by the Advanced Institute for Studies of 
Religion (ISER), police investigations in 90 percent of 3,236 probable 
homicide cases produced insufficient evidence for any trials. 
 
Civilian deaths at the hands of the Sao Paulo police have risen steadily 
during the past 2 years from an average 34.1 per month in 1993 to 43.5 
in 1994 and 56 per month in the first half of 1995.  These figures do 
not include civilians who are wounded and die later in a hospital.  At 
the same time, the Sao Paulo police have lowered their ratio of persons 
killed to wounded from police action, from 3 to 1 prior to 1995 to 
approximately 0.8 to 1 during the first 8 months of 1995. 
 
The trial of the 121 military police accused of the 1992 Carandiru 
Prison massacre remained mired in the special police courts.  Only 65 of 
the 96 victims and witnesses for the prosecution have testified.  Since 
every defendant has the right to call six witnesses, the trial could 
last into the next century.  In another high profile case in Sao Paulo--
the "42nd delegacia"--military and civil police were accused of the 1989 
murder of 18 prisoners asphyxiated when police crammed 51 prisoners into 
a tiny, unventilated cell as punishment.  Although the civil police 
defendants have been tried and sentenced in civil court, the 6-year-old 
case against military policemen continues to languish in the police 
tribunal.  (Police courts are special courts with jurisdiction over the 
state police; see Section 1.e.). 
 
In the first 11 months of 1995, there were 49 instances of "mass murder" 
in Sao Paulo, with a total of 158 victims.  In 17 of the mass murder 
cases, police have been unable to find any suspects and have no leads.  
Human rights activists and public prosecutors believe that military 
police are responsible for many of these unresolved cases, which often 
result from police involvement in drug deals gone awry or from 
retaliation for witnesses' cooperation with prosecutors or 
investigators.  A Sao Paulo state assembly investigative committee 
uncovered numerous instances of police involvement in drug trafficking 
and robbery. 
 
One of the poorest municipalities in Sao Paulo state, Franco da Rocha, 
has been used as a clandestine dumping site for the victims of death 
squads.  Since 1993 at least 212 bodies have been encountered there, 50 
killed with a bullet to the head and thought to be victims of 
extermination squads.  The arms and heads of some of the bodies had been 
removed in an apparent attempt to conceal the victims' identities.  Only 
half the victims have been identified, but 80 percent of them are linked 
to petty crime.  The principal suspects for the murders are military 
policemen; all the bodies were found in, and all identified victims 
lived in, the area served by the 26th military police battalion.  
According to civil police investigators, there is circumstantial 
evidence linking police to eight killings, but insufficient evidence for 
prosecution. 
 
In Rio de Janeiro, execution-style killing of street children continued, 
according to reliable reports from organizations aiding the youths.  
Three policemen, indicted for the July 1993 killings of eight street 
children in downtown Candelaria Square, were still in jail awaiting 
trial by regular courts at the end of the year.  Their case was kept out 
of special police courts because they were not on duty at the time they 
allegedly killed the children and apparently did not use police 
equipment in the crime.  Wagner dos Santos, a key witness in the 
Candelaria case, was shot twice in the head in December 1994 by two men 
he said he recognized as civil policemen.  Dos Santos recovered and is 
under the protection of a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) at an 
unidentified location. 
 
The regular court system tried the cases of police gang members accused 
of murdering 21 Vigario Geral residents in 1993.  A plethora of both new 
accusations and accused individuals (at last count 35 people may stand 
trial) complicated the case and effectively guaranteed postponement of a 
trial date.  In May seven individuals in Rio de Janeiro were arrested at 
the request of the state Attorney General on suspicion of being members 
of a death squad.  Three of the suspects were military policemen, three 
were firemen, and one was a civil policeman.  The group was accused of 
10 killings, 9 of them in 1995.  Five of the victims were themselves 
police officers, including a military police major responsible for 
investigating corruption and death squad activities within the military 
police. 
 
On March 17, a group of 15 hooded individuals entered the city jail in 
the border city of Uruguaiana in Rio Grande do Sul.  They removed 
Everaldo Silva Santos from his cell and executed him in front of the 
jail by a dozen gunshots.  Santos had been jailed the day before for the 
fatal stabbing of a military police officer.  The same group is 
suspected of killing Francisco Goncalves Filho 2 days earlier in the 
mistaken belief that he was Silva Santos.  Twelve members of the 
Uruguaiana police were arrested for suspected involvement in the two 
murders and are awaiting trial. 
 
Sao Paulo's new State Secretary for Public Security took steps to curb 
abuses by the military police.  In May he reassigned to administrative 
billets the 200 military policemen with the most civilian deaths on 
their records in what many human rights observers welcomed as an attempt 
to get "killers" off the streets.  Sao Paulo's first civilian Ombudsman 
took office on November 20; he will have the power to conduct special 
investigations of police, order disciplinary action, and forward 
specific cases of police abuse to the Attorney general for prosecution. 
 
Rio de Janeiro State Secrectary for Security Nilton Cerqueira threatened 
in a public statement on August 2 to get rid of the civil police if the 
force did not regain the public's confidence by year's end.  Cerqueira 
reported that he had begun 261 investigations of policemen allegedly 
involved in irregularities, but indicated that more would be required.  
According to a report produced by the civil police's own Inspector 
General, at least 20 percent of policemen hired in the last 3 years have 
criminal records, involving crimes ranging from car theft to murder. 
 
Throughout Brazil, local human rights organizations point to excessive 
use of force by police.  In March Rio de Janeiro military policemen 
apprehended Cristiano Moura Mesquita in front of the popular Rio Sul 
Shopping Center as he fled after robbing a pharmacy.  As a crowd of 
people watched, Mesquita was dragged behind a police van and summarily 
executed with three gunshots.  The incident was photographed by a 
television crew which happened to be in the area and was featured on 
news broadcasts around the world.  A military police court convicted a 
military police corporal of the murder of Mesquita on September 15 and 
sentenced him to 20 years.  Polls taken immediately after the incident 
showed that a majority of Rio de Janeiro residents approved of the 
summary execution, a reflection of the frustration felt by the city's 
residents with the rising levels of violence and the inefficiency of the 
judicial system. 
 
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 often 
hindered investigation into these incidents, including death threats 
against witnesses, prosecutors, judges, and human rights monitors.  
Military police Prosecutor Stella Kuhlmann, who is prosecuting the 
Carandiru case, and two of her colleagues, continued to receive 
telephone death threats.  Although Kuhlmann has shared tapes of the 
threats with the State Secretary for Public Security, police claim to be 
unable to identify the perpetrators despite more than 2 years of 
investigation.  Similarly, Sao Paulo civil police delegates Luis 
Hellmeister, Edelcio Vieira, and Henriqueta Caruso received death 
threats warning them to stop investigating a group of military policemen 
for involvement in murders and extortions.  Cristina Leonardo, who heads 
an NGO serving street children and who has been sheltering Wagner dos 
Santos, the witness in the Candelaria case, has received a number of 
death threats.  Investigators in the Vigario-Geral case uncovered a plot 
to murder the presiding judge, Maria Lucia Capiberibe. 
 
In rural areas in the north and northeast, landowners often intimidated 
judges, lawyers, and police with violence and threats of violence.  New 
conflicts between rural landowners and the landless intensified in 1995, 
in part because of the slow progress of the Federal Government toward 
reaching its goal of granting land tenure certifications to hundreds of 
thousands of landless families.  In an attempt to prod the Government to 
step up its agricultural resettlement program, 12,820 families illegally 
occupied 40 plots of land identified as unproductive, raising tensions 
and increasing confrontations with landowners, their gunmen, and, in 
many cases, policemen. 
 
The August 9 massacre of 10 landless workers by military police in the 
western state of Rondonia illustrates the tensions created by the land 
invasions and the excessive violence often used by policemen in dealing 
with the squatters.  Acting on a judicial order, 187 military policemen 
went on August 9 to the Santa Elina Farm in the town of Corumbiara to 
evict the 500 families who had been squatting there since July 14.  In 
the ensuing firefight, 9 squatters, including a 7-year-old girl, and 2 
policemen were killed, and 130 squatters were injured.  Nine squatters 
are still unaccounted for.  According to the medical examiner's report, 
most of the squatters killed had been shot in the back at short range, 
and many of the bullets had traveled from the top of the body downward, 
indicating that the victims had been killed from behind while kneeling.  
Fifteen days after the massacre, the body of one of the squatters, 
Sergio Rodrigues Gomes, was found floating in a nearby river with a 
fractured skull.  The day of the massacre, a city councilman and the 
mayor of Corumbiara had seen Gomes handcuffed in the custody of several 
military policemen.  When Gomes had tried to speak to the city 
councilman, a policeman kicked him in the back, put him in a vehicle, 
and drove off with him. 
 
After visiting the site as head of a special congressional committee to 
investigate the massacre, Nilmario Miranda, President of the Chamber of 
Deputies Human Rights Committee, cited the clear evidence of excessive 
police violence.  His report blamed the Federal Government, first and 
foremost, for not having an adequate agrarian reform policy.  He also 
singled out the judge who ordered the eviction despite a high level of 
tension in the area and the state of Rondonia for not exercising better 
control over its military police.  Several days after the massacre, 
Rondonia Governor Valdir Raupp removed from command positions the 
commandant of the state's military police and the battalion commander of 
the unit which carried out the operation.  However, although Raupp 
acknowledged excessive violence by the police, he insisted that the 
squatters were to blame because they had fired first.  Investigations of 
the massacre by the military and civil police are progressing slowly; in 
the interim, all of the policemen involved remain on active duty. 
 
Manoel Ribeiro, a city councilman in Corumbiara who supported the 
landless workers' occupation of land, was fatally shot outside his home 
on December 16.  Ribeiro had been gathering information on alleged 
malfeasance by the mayor just before he was killed. 
 
On August 31, the Para state court upheld the December 1994 conviction 
of a gunman, and the ranch foreman who hired him, for killing union 
leader Expedito de Souza in 1991.  The gunman was sentenced to 25 years 
in prison and the ranch foreman to 21 years.  However, the ranch owner--
also accused of the crime--remains at large (see Section 1.e.), and the 
Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) has received reports 
that he circulates freely and openly in southern Para.  The case of the 
1985 murder of Joao Canuto, the first president of the Rural Workers 
Union in Rio Maria, Para, has been in the state prosecutor's office 
awaiting a trial date since August 1993, 8 years after the beginning of 
the investigation.  No one has been charged in the case. 
 
The CPT reported that land disputes resulted in the murders of 47 
persons in 1994, and 26 such murders and 23 disappearances in the first 
8 months of 1995, including the victims of the Rondonia massacre.  A 
typical example of the conflicts which occur in rural areas is the case 
of Oseas Jose de Oliveira and Jose Candido Oliveira, who were shot to 
death in Riacho de Santana, Bahia, an area where the ownership of land 
has been in dispute for more than 50 years.  A farmer reportedly was 
angered by the Oliveiras' gathering of wood from an area he claimed was 
his and by their refusal to leave.  Two employees of the farmer have 
been charged with the murder. 
 
Human rights groups cite the high level of crime and the failings of the 
judicial system as contributing factors to  public tolerance of 
vigilante lynchings of suspected criminals. 

The most recent year for which reliable comprehensive statistics 
on lynchings are available is 1993.  According to the University 
of Sao Paulo-affiliated Nucleus for the Studies of Violence, 14 people 
were lynched in all regions of Brazil in 1993, down from 40 in 1991 and 
18 in 1992.  No suspects were arrested in any of the 1993 lynchings. 
 
The case of a military policeman convicted in Sao Paulo, in both 
military and civilian courts, of killing transvestites provides a basis 
for comparing decisions of the two judicial systems.  In military police 
court the soldier was convicted in March 1994 of killing one 
transvestite and sentenced to 12 years in prison.  In October 1994, the 
military appeals court reduced the sentence to 6 years, noting that 
being a transvestite was a "high risk" activity.  Although he had vowed 
to do so, the prosecutor never appealed the decision.  In March a 
civilian court convicted the same soldier for killing three other 
transvestites and sentenced him to 44 years in prison.  In August 
indictments were brought against a military police sergeant and two 
soldiers for the grisly August 1993 murder of  
 
Renildo Jose dos Santos, a city councilman in Coqueiro Seco, Alagoas.  
Although an open homosexual, Dos Santos' murder was more likely a result 
of his outspoken criticisms of the mayor, whom he had accused of 
corruption.  The mayor's son was also indicted in the case. 
 
  b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated abductions.  However, 
human rights groups often blamed the police or vigilante groups for the 
disappearance of street children or persons believed to be criminals. 
 
Sergeant Idalessio Costa Rodrigues of the 19th military police battalion 
in Presidente Prudente, Sao Paulo, was accused of the disappearance of 
Mauricio Borges Ribeiro dos Santos, after he arrested him in April.  
During the subsequent investigation, police discovered that Rodrigues 
had a notebook with the names of 505 people whom he considered to be 
criminals along with photographs, birthdates, addresses, parents' names, 
and the alleged crimes.  Rodrigues had written "dead" next to 16 of the 
names, along with a date and a red cross.  Police are investigating the 
circumstances of the deaths of these 16 persons. 
 
In March 1994, Rosalvo Jose da Silva disappeared from the northeastern 
state of Alagoas.  Da Silva had alleged he would  sue the landowner who 
wanted to expel him and his family from land in Colonia de Leopoldina, 
where they had lived for 10 years.  Da Silva's wife, who has been very 
public in her demands for an investigation of her husband's 
disappearance, received death threats from the landowner as well as from 
a soldier who was the last person seen talking with her husband. 
 
After a woman claimed to have seen him badly beaten and lying on the 
floor of the civil police antikidnaping division, authorities reopened 
the August 1993 disappearance case of Jorge Antonio Carelli, an employee 
of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation.  The woman, who is currently serving a 
prison sentence on kidnaping charges, told authorities that Carelli 
managed to tell her his name and say that he worked for the Oswaldo Cruz 
Foundation before civil policemen took her to another room.  The civil 
police Inspector General's office considered the woman's testimony 
sufficiently credible to reopen the investigation of the 22 policemen 
who were formerly exonerated of all charges in this case. 
 
In Rio de Janeiro there was an alarming rise in kidnapings, most of 
which appeared to be economically motivated.  In the first 7 months of 
the year, there were 62 kidnapings, in contrast to 82 cases in all of 
1994.  Policemen, including members of the civil police antikidnaping 
division, have been implicated in several of the cases.  Two cases in 
particular reflect both police complicity and incompetence.  In the 
first, 13-year-old Juliana Lutterbach was kidnaped on April 18 as she 
left her home in the Santa Teresa district.  In the process of 
negotiating with her family, the kidnapers made more than 20 telephone 
calls, including one that was traced to a public telephone booth near 
the offices of the civil police antikidnaping division.  The civil 
police initially claimed that there was no way they could identify the 
telephone booth in question.  After the family provided police with a 
map of telephone booths obtained from the telephone company, the police 
took action--identifying the telephone booth and arresting one of the 
kidnapers--a military policeman--as he was calling the girl's family. 
 
In the second case, 13-year-old Paula Zamboni was kidnaped on April 24 
in the Minas Gerais town of Alem Paraiba, on the boundary with Rio de 
Janeiro state.  After monitoring telephone calls made to the girl's 
family, Minas Gerais police determined that she was being held in a Rio 
de Janeiro suburb.  A squad of Minas Gerais policemen crossed state 
lines to raid the house where Zamboni was being held, freeing Zamboni 
and arresting three of her captors:  two active duty Rio de Janeiro 
military policemen and one former military policeman.  These two high-
profile cases prompted public outrage, and led Rio de Janeiro Governor 
Marcello Alencar to declare a crackdown on the state police, vowing 
publicly to abolish the antikidnaping division if it did not improve its 
performance. 
 
In a move praised by many human rights advocates, President Cardoso 
submitted to Congress on August 29 a bill recognizing, and assuming 
government responsibility for, the deaths of 136 political activists who 
disappeared during the military regime.  Both houses of Congress passed 
legislation signed by the President on December 4 which obligates the 
Government to pay indemnities of between $110,000 to $160,000 (100-
150,000 reais) to each of the families.  President Cardoso stated that 
it was the State's responsibility to recognize and make restitution for 
excesses committed during the military regime.  He dismissed, however, 
any possibility of the Government investigating the circumstances of 
those who disappeared, saying that would violate the August 28, 1979, 
Amnesty Law. 
 
  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, but the Penal Code fails to define 
torture.  In June 1994, 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, convicting the defendant based on the statutes 
defining norms of juvenile justice, which do specify penalties for 
torture.  The victim was a minor when he was beaten into confessing to a 
crime in 1991. 
 
There are frequent credible reports that police beat and torture 
criminal suspects to extract information, confessions, or money.  The 
Government estimated in its 1994 Report on the Internal Human Rights 
Situation that fewer than 10 percent of cases of mistreatment by police 
are reported.  Victims are generally poor, uneducated about their 
rights, and--most of all--afraid to come forward for fear of reprisals. 
 
In late 1994, 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.  "Operation Rio," the joint military-police 
operation to seize arms and illegal drugs in Rio's slums, was popular 
with the city's residents, although there were credible reports that 
slum occupants were harassed and beaten.  Slum resident Francisco Jose 
Reis de Oliveira complained of having been beaten, suffocated, and 
subjected to electric shocks.  An examination performed by the police 
medical service found marks on Oliveira's body but no conclusive proof 
of torture.  A Catholic priest, Olinto Pergoraro, complained that his 
chapel in Borel, where the army established an operational base, was 
used as a place to torture residents, but the army vigorously denied any 
involvement in torture. 
 
The reopening of the investigation into the disappearance of Jorge 
Antonio Carelli (see Section 1.b.) led the chief of the civil police in 
Rio de Janeiro, Helio Luz, to lament publicly that torture has long been 
a common practice of the Brazilian police, declaring that society had 
accepted torture as a just punishment for common criminals and a 
legitimate means of obtaining information.  Luz added, however, that he 
thought that society was gradually coming to reject torture as a 
legitimate police practice. 
 
Reflecting sensitivity to the country's image abroad on the torture 
issue, President Cardoso ordered that the Brazilian military attache in 
London, whom human rights groups accused of having tortured political 
prisoners during the military regime, be removed from his post. 
 
According to the Government's 1995 penitentiary census, Brazil's 
overcrowded prisons held 129,169 inmates in space designed for 59,954.  
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 33 prison rebellions occurred in 1994, while 
attempted or successful escapes averaged almost 9 per day.  Due to the 
severe overcrowding in prisons, police precincts are often used as 
prisons, where sentenced prisoners share cells with detainees.  Sao 
Paulo's prison system in particular suffers from chronic overcrowding, 
corrupt and abusive local prison management, and prisoner access to 
weapons and drugs.  The state's 43 penitentiaries--the majority of them 
dilapidated and dirty--house 34,000 prisoners in facilities designed to 
hold less than 24,000.  In the first 7 months of 1995, there were 19 
revolts in Sao Paulo state penitentiaries.  All but one were resolved 
peacefully; however, in one incident, when it appeared that 22 hostages 
taken by the prisoners were in danger, the State Secretary for Justice 
and Penitentiary Administration ordered military police to storm the 
prison.  In contrast to the 111 prisoners killed at Carandiru, only 3 
prisoners died in this incident.  Human rights activists praised State 
Secretary of Justice dos Santos for leading the military police invasion 
and videotaping the entire procedure to promote the transparency of 
police actions. 
 
Prisoners at Recife's maximum security prison staged a hunger strike in 
June to protest conditions in the prison, which holds 906 prisoners in 
space designed for 534. 
 
  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 incommunicado. 
 
The Constitution prohibits forced exile, and it is not practiced. 
 
  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 tried in police courts from 1970 to 1991, found 
that only 8 percent of the cases resulted in convictions.  In Sao Paulo, 
another study found that only 5 percent resulted 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 note 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. 
 
Defendants are entitled to counsel and must be made fully aware of the 
charges against them.  According to the Ministry of Justice, 
approximately 85 percent of prisoners cannot afford an attorney.  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 often no effective defense is provided.  Juries try 
only cases of willful crimes against life; judges try all others. 
 
The right to a fair public trial as provided 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 people and rural union 
activists.  Similarly, 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.  
Lawyers often drag out cases as long as possible in the hope that an 
appeal court might render a favorable opinion, and because they are paid 
according to the amount of time they spend on a case.  According to the 
Institute of Economic, Social, and Political Studies of Sao Paulo, 
however, 90 percent of appeals court decisions confirm decisions made in 
lower courts.  Low pay, combined with exacting competitive examinations 
that in some years eliminate 90 percent of the applicants, make 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 that they can be dismissed. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners. 
 
  f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom from arbitrary intrusion into the 
home, although wiretaps authorized by judicial authority are permitted.  
There were no reports of illegal entry for political reasons, but 
illegal entry into homes without a warrant occurs in searches for 
criminal suspects.  Those conducting military searches during Operation 
Rio were accompanied by a policeman with arrest authority, along with a 
search warrant.  According to the Brazilian Bar Association, search 
teams obtained generic search warrants, which were used to enter houses 
at will.  The inviolability of private correspondence is respected. 
 
Wiretaps are unconstitutional except when authorized by a judicial 
authority for purposes of criminal investigation and prosecution, and 
provided implementing legislation exists regulating the conditions under 
which wiretaps may be used.  Wiretapping was a common police practice 
until an incident targeting a presidential aide led Justice Minister 
Jobim to forbid further wiretapping until passage of the 
constitutionally required implementing legislation, which was awaiting 
Congressional approval at the end of 1995. 
 
Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
  a.  Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The 1988 Constitution abolished all forms of censorship and provides for 
freedom of speech and a free press.  The authorities respect these 
rights in practice.  Newspapers and magazines, which are privately 
owned, vigorously report and comment on government performance.  Both 
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 has 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.  It is difficult to determine how 
many media are indirectly controlled by politicians since concessions 
are often registered in the names of family members or friends linked to 
them.  In addition, concessions are regularly transferred to other 
names, with little oversight by the Government.  Stating his intention 
to put an end to the distribution of television and radio concessions 
based on political considerations, President Cardoso submitted a 
proposal to Congress setting out strict requirements, based exclusively 
on technical criteria, that must be met by applicants for television and 
radio concessions. 
 
A report by the Brazilian National Association of Newspapers (ANJ) 
claimed four journalists were murdered.  In May a policeman allegedly 
shot Marcos Borges Ribeiro, owner of the Rio Verde (Goias state) 
newspaper, The Independent, in his sleep.  Unknown assailants killed 
Aristeu Guida da Silva, owner of the Gazeta de Sao Fidelis newspaper in 
the state of Rio de Janeiro, after his paper published articles on city 
government irregularities.  No suspects have been charged in this crime. 
 
The penalty for libel under the 1967 Press Law--a prison term--is 
considered extreme by judges.  Press criticism has described it as an 
archaic and authoritarian law inherited from the military regime.  The 
1994 Inter-American Press Association 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 ANJ report, two journalists were 
convicted in July of libel and defamation of character, and sentenced to 
4 months and 20 days' imprisonment.  The two had published a 1993 
article in the now-defunct Jornal Brasil Central involving a legal case 
against the family of the Tocantins state governor.  The two are 
appealing the conviction.  Lucio Flavio Pinto, an independent journalist 
in Belem, Para state, had to close his weekly newsletter in 1994 to 
defend himself against lawsuits brought by the owners of the city's 
major newspaper for libel and defamation under the 1967 Press Law.  He 
is currently appealing his conviction on libel charges.  Congress has 
considered, but has not yet eliminated, the Press Law's provisions for 
prison terms. 
 
There were reports of harassment against journalists.  A photographer 
for the daily Jornal do Brasil lodged a complaint against three soldiers 
for seizing his camera and beating him while he was photographing an 
army operation during "Operation Rio".  Antonio Bonfim and Cesar Gomes 
Gama, journalists in Aracaju, Sergipe, have been harassed and have 
received death threats since writing an article in July 1994 for the 
weekly Cinform, charging that a death squad operation in the area was 
composed of military policemen.  Seven potential witnesses have been 
killed since the investigation of the death squad began.  Bonfim and 
Gama are accompanied by armed bodyguards 24 hours a day. 
 
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 
 
The Constitution provides for 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.  Women, however, are not allowed to leave the country with 
children without the permission of the children's father.  Brazil has 
admitted few immigrants recently, is selective in granting asylum, and 
does not formally accept refugees for resettlement.  However, in 1995 
the Government did agree to accept 200 Bosnian refugees. 
 
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 most recently exercised 
this right in 1994, filling executive and legislative offices throughout 
the country.  Voting is secret and mandatory for all literate Brazilian 
citizens age 18 to 70, except military conscripts who may not vote.  It 
is voluntary for minors age 16 to 18, for the illiterate, and for those 
age 70 and over. 
 
Women have full political rights under the Constitution and are becoming 
active in politics and government.  However, they comprise only 6.5 
percent of the National Congress; 33 women serve in the Chamber of 
Deputies (out of 513 seats), and 5 serve in the Senate (out of 81 
members).  In the 1994 elections, voters elected one female governor.  
To boost the participation of women in government, Congress passed 
legislation requiring that 20 percent of each party's candidates in the 
1996 municipal elections be women.  The 1988 Constitution gave Indians 
the franchise, but their ability to protect their own interests is 
severely limited (see Section 5). 
 
Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
Nongovernmental organizations actively investigate allegations of human 
rights violations and often initiate legal proceedings. 
Government officials are generally cooperative with them. 
 
Several international NGO's either maintain offices in Brazil or visit 
periodically.  In April the Secretary General of Amnesty International 
made a well-publicized 2-week visit to Brazil where he met with 
President Cardoso, several state governors, and the Deputy Minister of 
Justice, and addressed the Chamber of Deputies.  The visit by the 
executive director of Human Rights Watch also received widespread media 
coverage.  Government offices such as the Ministry of Justice's 
Secretaries for Citizenship and Human Rights and the federal 
prosecutor's office respond readily to inquiries about human rights 
cases and launch their own investigations. 
 
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) visited Brazil, at 
the government's invitation, for the first time since Brazil ratified 
the American Convention on Human Rights in 1993.  Although the IACHR 
identified a number of areas of concern, the team was impressed with the 
openness of officials in discussing Brazil's human rights problems and 
by their commitment to find solutions. 
 
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 International Labor Organization (ILO) 
notes that important differences in wages continue to exist to the 
detriment of women and blacks, particularly in rural areas. 
 
There continued to be reports of violence against homosexuals, although 
comprehensive data were not available.  In February a group of Rio de 
Janeiro military policemen assaulted a group of transvestites working as 
prostitutes along the Mem de Sa Avenue.  Several gay rights groups 
organized a protest several days later in front of the 13th military 
police battalion.  None of the policemen allegedly involved in the 
incident has been charged.  In May, Luis Mott, an anthropologist and 
leader of the gay community in Salvador, Bahia, alleged in two newspaper 
interviews that Zumbi, a legendary black freedom fighter of the 17th 
century, was a homosexual.  Mott's allegation led to an exchange of 
insults and threats between gay rights and black rights groups, who were 
outraged by Mott's remarks.  Mott hired bodyguards after he was 
threatened, and vandals damaged his house and car with graffiti. 
 
  Women 
 
There is a high incidence of physical abuse of women, and 125 cities 
have established special police offices to deal with crimes against 
women.  Sao Paulo, which has 128 special police stations dedicated to 
preventing crimes against women (up from 120 in 1994), registered an 
18.4 percent increase in complaints of violence against women during the 
first 6 months of 1995 over 1994 levels.  An estimated 80 percent of 
complaints involved abuse by a spouse or former spouse.  Police and 
social workers attribute the increase in reported complaints not to a 
rising level of violence against women, but to greater awareness by 
women of their rights and less willingness to tolerate abuse than in the 
past.  In the 7 years they have been in existence, Rio's special police 
units have registered 13,000 complaints of violence against women, 
involving 24,000 victims.  The women who made complaints generally asked 
police to reprimand their husbands, rather than take legal action. 
 
In rural areas, abused 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 in 1991 struck down 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. 
 
The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex in employment or 
pay and provides for 120 days of paid maternity leave.  However, the 
provision against wage discrimination is rarely enforced.  According to 
the most recent official statistics, women earn, on average, 54 percent 
of the salaries earned by men.  A recent study by a Brazilian 
sociologist showed that women who started working in positions in which 
they earned twice the minimum wage advanced in pay after 10 years to a 
wage of seven times the minimum wage.  Men starting in the same 
positions earned 2.6 times the minimum wage and advanced to a wage of 
10.9 times the minimum wage after 10 years. 
 
In response to the maternity leave law, some employers seek 
sterilization certificates from female job applicants or try to avoid 
hiring women of childbearing age.  Hoping to clamp down on such 
employers, President Cardoso signed a law in April prohibiting employers 
from requiring applicants or employees to take pregnancy tests or 
present sterilization certificates.  Employers who violate the law are 
subject to a jail term ranging from 1 to 2 years, while the company must 
pay a fine equal to 10 times the salary of its highest-paid employee.  
In July employees of three Rio de Janeiro companies filed complaints 
with the State Council for the Rights of Women, charging the companies 
with discrimination.  A complaint was filed against General Electric for 
allegedly limiting the times female employees were permitted to go to 
the bathroom; against FAET, an electric appliance company, for requiring 
applicants to take a pregnancy test; and against Fabrimar, a producer of 
bathroom products, for subjecting female employees to inappropriately 
intimate searches at the end of each working day. 
 
  Children 
 
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 must 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 as many as 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 beg 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 probably less than 1,000 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, government and NGO officials estimate that between 4,500 and 
20,000 children spend their days in the streets of greater Sao Paulo, 
but return home at night.  Approximately 900 to 1,800 lack access to 
shelter and sleep in the street. 
 
Because street children have a high rate of drug use and have been 
involved in assaults and robberies, a significant portion of the public 
supports harsh police measures against them, viewing the issue as one of 
crime and security, not human rights.  Of the 562 reported homicides in 
the northeastern state of Pernambuco in the first 8 months of 1995, 10 
percent of the victims were under 18 years of age.  A local human rights 
group suspects that many of these minors are killed by off-duty 
policemen and private security guards hired by area businessmen to rid 
their areas of street children.  Federal, state, and local governments 
devote insufficient resources to street children.  NGO's sponsor relief 
efforts, but demand far outstrips available resources. 
 
The report of a congressional investigating committee on child 
prostitution, published in 1994, 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 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, and most first raped before age 10.  In October the Ministry of 
Justice launched a national 3-month media campaign to educate the 
population about the significant problem of child prostitution and to 
encourage people to report individuals they observed engaging in, or 
soliciting, child prostitution.  The media campaign targeted Brazil's 
principal tourist cities, where child prostitution is most prevalent. 
 
  People With Disabilities 
 
The 1988 Constitution contains several provisions for the disabled, 
stipulating a minimum wage, educational opportunities, and access to 
public buildings and 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.  In January Sao Paulo Governor Mario Covas vetoed a bill that 
would have implemented a special education program for the state's 
disabled population, citing insufficient funds. 
 
There was little progress in the elimination of architectural barriers 
to the disabled.  However, the city government in Recife (the country's 
sixth largest city) made some efforts to eliminate architectural 
barriers by cutting access ramps into some street curbs.  In addition, 
several local transportation companies began to install access lifts on 
public buses.  A Rio de Janeiro court ordered each of the city's 34 
transportation companies to equip at least one bus serving each route 
with an access lift.  By the end of August, 14 buses had been equipped 
with such lifts, and the number was expected to rise to 200. 
 
  Indigenous People 
 
Brazil's approximately 320,000 Indians, who speak 170 different 
languages, have a constitutional right to their traditional lands.  In 
practice, however, the authorities allow most indigenous people 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 
Government announced its intention to change the way Indian lands are 
demarcated, to allow for the right of non-Indian current occupants to 
dispute proposed demarcations, despite the fact that the Constitution 
allows the Federal Government to expropriate land with just 
compensation.  Indian rights groups and the federal prosecutor's office 
were concerned that such a change in the demarcation process would 
reopen land claims in previously demarcated Indian reserves, and 
encourage land invasions by non-Indians hoping to stake new claims, 
resulting in increased violence. 
 
The Constitution provides Indians with the exclusive use of the soil, 
waters, and minerals found in their lands, subject to congressional 
authorization.  The regulations necessary for economic exploitation are 
still pending before the Congress as part of the bill known as the 
Statute of Indigenous Societies.  Illegal mining, logging, and ranching 
are a constant problem on Indian lands, as an estimated 84 percent of 
these lands have been occupied by non-Indians.  Approximately 200 gold 
miners remained in the Yanomami Reserve at the end of 1995, in the state 
of Roraima, causing another surge in the number of Indians dying from 
malaria.  At least 22 Yanomami died from malaria, and 78 from other 
diseases, in part due to the Federal Government's failure to provide 
adequate medical care for indigenous people. 
 
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 is in custody.  Yanomami witnesses failed to 
recognize two of the accused, and other witnesses have disappeared.  
Indigenous rights groups expressed concern that the process was 
completely paralyzed and that those responsible for the massacre may 
never be brought to justice. 
 
The order to demarcate the Raposa-Serra do Sol area in Roraima remained 
stalled in the Justice Minister's office for the second year in a row, 
as tensions in the area increased.  In January a group of Macuxi and 
Wapixana Indians built huts and cleared fields in an area where the 
state government intended to build a hydroelectric dam, a project that 
would have flooded 3,700 hectares of indigenous territory.  The state 
government sent in 70 military policemen, who destroyed the huts and 
beat a number of the Indians.  In retaliation, the Indians set fire to 
bridges and telephone towers in three nearby villages.  The Minister of 
Justice used the army to maintain order, but soldiers were soon accused 
of harassing Indians in the area and taking the side of non-Indian 
occupants.  In March a federal judge in Roraima ordered the state 
electric company to halt plans to build the hydroelectric dam, ruling 
that the electric company had to obtain congressional permission to 
build the dam since the area had been identified as traditional Indian 
land.  In May a federal judge ordered the army to withdraw from the 
area, ruling that the federal police bore responsibility for maintaining 
order in cases involving indigenous groups.  The federal police have 
been able to maintain an uneasy peace between Indians, on one side, and 
non-Indian occupants of the land on the other. 
 
The Catholic Church's Indigenist Council reported in 1995 that more than 
7,000 Indians were trapped into forced labor (see Section 6.c.).  The 
majority were Guarani Indians in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where 
a high rate of suicide (54 among the Guarani through mid-December) was 
reported. 
 
In the absence of government action, indigenous groups have begun to 
take matters into their own hands.  Guajajara Indians in the state of 
Maranhao threatened to force out 75 families living on their demarcated 
land.  Partly as a response to that threat, the Government began 
gradually to resettle each of the 75 families.  In August approximately 
50 Ful-ni-o Indians occupied the headquarters of FUNAI, Brazil's Indian 
Affairs Agency, in Garanhuns, Pernambuco, to demand better medical 
treatment on their reservation and to insist that the state FUNAI 
administrator be fired.  Also in August, Kaiapo Indians occupied a 
company guest house near their reserve in Alto Xingu, on the border of 
Para and Mato Grosso, and threatened to burn it down.  Frustrated by 
what he said was 3 years of government inaction, Raoni, a well-known 
leader of the Kaiapo, demanded that FUNAI forbid fishing expeditions 
along the river, charging that they were depleting the Kaiapo fishing 
supplies, and put a stop to hunting expeditions into the Kaiapo reserve.  
Several months earlier, three American citizens on a fishing expedition 
on the Xingu river were briefly held hostage by Kakramoro Indians, who 
demanded that the Americans relinquish their boat and 8,000 reais 
(approximately $8,500); they settled for confiscation of the boat only.  
It is unclear whether the kidnaping was motivated by anger at the 
depletion of the fishing supply, or common robbery. 
 
  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
Although racial discrimination has been illegal since 1951, darker-
skinned citizens frequently encounter discrimination.  Most blacks are 
found among the poorer sectors of society.  Even though nearly half of 
the population has some African ancestry, very few senior officials in 
Government, the armed forces, or the private sector are black.  Black 
consciousness organizations challenge the view that Brazil is a racial 
democracy with equality for all regardless of skin color.  They assert 
that racial discrimination becomes most evident when blacks seek 
employment, housing, or educational opportunities.  According to 
government statistics, the monthly per capita income for white males is 
6.3 times the minimum wage; for white women, 3.6 times the minimum wage; 
for black men, 2.9; and for black women, 1.7. 
 
An April survey conducted by a prominent polling service provided 
insight into the perceptions of different segments of the population 
about the problem of racism.  The survey showed that 89 percent of the 
population believes that whites are prejudiced against blacks.  Ten 
percent of nonblacks admitted that they were prejudiced against blacks, 
and, according to the pollsters, 87 percent of whites displayed signs of 
racism in their answers to at least 1 of 12 questions asked in the poll. 
 
The news magazine Veja reported in 1994 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. 
 
Blacks are often the victims of violence at a level disproportionate to 
their percentage in the population.  For instance, the well-respected 
human rights NGO active in the northeast, the Luiz Freire Cultural 
Center, reported that, of the 1,378 murder victims in Recife in 1994, 87 
percent were black. 
 
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.  In a comprehensive story on the problem of racism, the 
daily newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported that in Florianopolis, in 
the southern state of Santa Catarina, a labor court ordered the state-
owned firm Eletrosul to reinstate electrical technician Vicente do 
Espirito Santo after finding that Santo's charges that he had been fired 
in 1992 because he was black were well-founded. 
 
Section 6  Worker Rights 
 
  a.  The Right of Association 
 
The Labor Code provides for union representation of all workers (except 
for 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 by the 
Government but retained other provisions of the old labor code.  
Elements of the 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 work force is organized, with well 
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 workers with the right to strike, including 
civil servants (except again, for military, police, and firemen).  
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. 
 
The Constitution specifies the right of public employees to strike, 
subject to conditions enacted by the Congress.  Since the Congress has 
yet to pass the complementary legislation, labor law attorneys continue 
to debate the limits on the right to strike of public employees.  In 
practice, the Government has not interfered with their right to strike.  
A month-long strike by Petrobras (the public oil monopoly) employees in 
May was judged abusive by the Supreme Labor Court.  A majority approved 
of the firm handling of the strike by President Cardoso, who used 
soldiers to ensure that those who wanted to return to work were able to 
do so.  The strike, which greatly inconvenienced the public, led many--
including some labor leaders--to call for limits on public employees' 
right to strike. 
 
Autoworkers, teachers, university professors, health workers, train and 
municipal transit workers, dock workers, and post office, telephone, and 
electrical generating authority employees also went on strike.  
Formerly, the courts ruled almost 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, 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. 
Unions and centrals freely affiliate with international trade union 
organizations.  All three major confederations are affiliated with the 
ICFTU. 
 
  b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
The Constitution provides for the right to organize.  With 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.  The Cardoso 
Government has made expansion of collective bargaining one of its major 
objectives in the labor sector.  On June 30, the Government promulgated 
a provisional measure which ended the indexing of wages to inflation, 
reduced the role of labor courts in wage negotiations, allowed for 
mediation if the parties involved requested it, and provided greater 
latitude for collective bargaining.  Unions welcomed this reduction in 
the power of labor courts to set wages, since previously labor courts 
and the Labor Ministry had mediation responsibility in the preliminary 
stages of dispute settlement.  In many cases, free negotiations set 
wages; labor court decisions set them in others.  Under the terms of the 
provisional measure, parties may now freely choose mediation. 
 
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 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 1995 the 
CPT denounced 28 cases of forced labor, involving a total of 25,193 
workers in 9 states, an increase from the 19,940 reported in the 
previous year.  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.). 
 
Local police admitted that overseers or owners of many farms withhold 
pay from migrant laborers and use force to retain and intimidate them, 
but such violations fall within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of 
Labor, which has only 2,300 inspectors for the entire country.  Labor 
organizations allege that in mining and the rural economy thousands of 
workers, including minors, are hired on the basis of false promises, 
subjected to debt bondage and forced prostitution, with violence used to 
retain or punish workers who attempt to escape. 
 
Despite no increase in financial resources to fight the problem, the 
Federal Government has made attempts to clamp down on forced labor.  The 
new Secretary for the Labor Ministry department responsible for 
enforcing labor laws has taken an activist approach.  She created roving 
inspection teams (starting with three and later increasing to six), 
which in a number of surprise inspections, well-publicized after the 
fact, freed hundreds of workers subjected to forced labor.  The people 
responsible for exploiting forced labor usually go unpunished because 
freed workers are often afraid to testify against those who recruited 
and oversaw them, and because authorities have found it difficult to 
identify and locate the owners of farms or businesses that exploit 
forced labor. 
 
In mid-1995 the largest trade union confederation, CUT, initiated a 24-
hour hotline with a toll-free number for reporting instances of forced 
labor.  CUT President Vicente Paulo da Silva inaugurated the campaign by 
personally inspecting charcoal refineries in the state of Mato Grosso do 
Sul.  Shortly after the CUT initiative, President Cardoso delivered a 
radio address condemning the practice of forced labor and announced the 
formation of an interministerial task force to devise a comprehensive 
government approach to combat the problem.  Cardoso said that the 
Government would no longer provide loans, subsidies, or rollover of 
outstanding debt to farms or companies found to employ forced labor and 
that they would be ineligible to bid on public contracts. 
 
  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 work alongside their parents in cane 
fields, cutting hemp, or feeding wood into charcoal ovens; accidents, 
unhealthy working conditions, and squalor are common in these 
workplaces.  According to a comprehensive report in the weekly news 
magazine Veja on the problem of child labor, it is common to find 
children in the interior of Bahia who have lost fingers and forearms 
feeding sisal into grinding machines.  Carlos Silva de Jesus, age 14, 
for instance, has been blind since the age of 8 when, while working in a 
sisal field in Retirolandia, Bahia, he stabbed his left eye with a sisal 
leaf and shortly afterward punctured his right eye with a knife because 
he could not see very well. 
 
Independent shoe manufacturers in Franca (Sao Paulo) continue to 
purchase products from cottage industry subcontractors who employ 
thousands of children under age 14, in violation of the law.  Public 
prosecutors brought two suits in late 1994 against two groups of major 
Franca shoe manufacturers for illegally subcontracting work which led to 
the exploitation of child labor.  In March the regional labor court 
found the first group of five manufacturers guilty of using child labor, 
ordered the practice stopped immediately, and specified daily fines to 
be paid by the companies if the practice continued.  The case of the 
second group of five manufacturers remained under consideration by the 
court, which requested additional evidence.  A third suit was brought in 
mid-1995 against another group of five companies. 
 
According to a recent 2-year study carried out by an NGO based in 
Pernambuco, the Centro Josue de Castro, the use of child labor is common 
on sugar cane plantations.  The study estimated that 54,000 minors work 
on sugar cane plantations in Pernambuco, and 40,000 in Sao Paulo.  In 40 
percent of the families the researchers interviewed, children 
contributed 30 to 50 percent of the family income.  In the sugar cane 
industry in Pernambuco, 25 percent of the workers are younger than 18 
years, 90 percent of whom began working on the plantations between the 
ages of 7 and 13.  CUT, the nationwide labor confederation, reported 
that child labor is common among orange pickers in Sao Paulo.  The CPT 
received reports of child labor in the charcoal production industry in 
Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Para; on sisal 
plantations in Bahia and Paraiba; on cotton plantations in Parana; and 
in the area of reforestation, where children are used principally to put 
toxic chemicals on trees and anthills, in Minas Gerais, Bahia, and 
Espirito Santo. 
 
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 1994, the Government adjusted the national minimum wage 
every month.  Upon introduction of the economic stabilization plan in 
1995, it set the minimum wage at $83 (70 reais) per month.  In May 
President Cardoso raised the minimum wage to $111 (100 reais) per month.  
The Interunion Department for Socioeconomic Studies and Statistics 
estimates that the minimum wage is less than one-fourth that necessary 
to support a family of four (the standard set by the 1988 Constitution).  
The most recent 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 of 24 consecutive hours, preferably on Sundays.  The 
Constitution expanded pay and fringe benefits and established new 
protections for agricultural and domestic workers, although not all of 
these provisions are enforced. 
 
Unsafe working conditions are prevalent throughout the country.  
Incomplete figures from the Government's Social Security Administration 
for workplace accidents and fatalities in 1994 showed 350,210 reported 
accidents, of which 3,129 were fatal and 5,962 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 their activities.  Such firings, 
however, do occur, and legal recourse usually requires years for 
resolution. 
 
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[end of document]

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