Pagina Principal

English Report

Human Rights and Solidarity

This was the year that, for the first time, Brazil elected a President of the Republic from humble origins, just like those of the majority of people in this report. The day he was inaugurated, January 1, 2003, was the day that hope was renewed. However, in contrast to the euphoria, 2003 was also the year of alarming numbers. It was a year of frightening data regarding violence against indigenous people, for example. Twenty-two native people were murdered in the first ten months of the year, one of the highest rates of homicide in the last ten years, as explained in the article by the legal advisor for the Conselho Indigenista Missionário (Missionary Indigenist Council).

This was also the year of the repression of rural workers by both the major media and by some members of the judiciary. My close friend and an exceptional jurist Fábio Konder Comparato noted that we have witnessed the prioritization of economic gain, a concern of the dominant classes, rather than of human life. It is slander to call rural workers agitators or outlaws. Today, all of Brazil is mobilized towards seeking a better means for educating its children and future citizens who will be able to take history into their own hands. In my opinion - which is not that of a jurist, but that of an educator - the judiciary should expedite solutions and thereby assuage the movement that has spread to almost the entire country.

Those who seek land and new possibilities for production should also have the conditions necessary for small scale production. Brazil has the means to guarantee human rights to its people, and it is time to carry it out with perseverance.

It is necessary to quickly reduce unemployment, and to guarantee education, housing, land, and health care to our society. According to our national rapporteur on the right to education, Brazil has more than 42 million people over the age of 10 who cannot use reading and writing in their daily lives; in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro alone there are 684,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 without basic education. A survey (presented in this report by the coordinator of the Observatório de Favelas do Rio de Janeiro (Favela Watch in Rio de Janeiro) carried out in 53 favelas in the city showed that 62% of young people in these communities have not completed elementary education, only 1% have completed 12 or more years of study, 51% are working or seeking work, and the rate of unemployment is 18.6%.

The new President and his close advisors have always struggled for human rights and have even managed to topple a regime that was considered a immovable rock. People are tired of the continuous violence and soon their demands will reach the level of those against the Collor government and even those against the military repression. The entire population needs to mobilize to achieve conditions for the full implementation of human rights.

This can only take effect if there is good information and support from people who understand the issue. Congratulations to the Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Social Network for Justice and Human Rights) for publishing this report, for having the courage to confront difficult challenges, and for giving us hope!

São Paulo, Brazil
October 30, 2003

Paulo Evaristo, Cardinal Arns
Emeritus Archbishop of São Paulo