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English Report


Today, the expression "human rights" is much more accepted than it was 30 years ago. We have gone from defending the rights of political prisoners during the dictatorship to the much more inclusive and veritable concept of "all rights for everyone," thus reclaiming the vision of Bartolomé de las Casas almost 500 years ago.

 The following report makes this evident. It speaks of agrarian reform, but does not forget the memory of those disappeared at Araguaia during the military regime. It analyzes the rights of grassroots communities, such as the coconut workers (quebradeiras de coco), as well as the impact of international policies on human rights.

 This is the fourth report published annually by the Social Network of Justice and Human Rights. It strengthens our hope to verify the consistency and the persistence of the network in carrying out studies and research.

 The annual release of this portrait of the human rights situation in Brazil rings out like a shout of repudiation and shows that we do not accept what many treat as fate. The authors go beyond a mere description, a simple portrait. They look to show the roots of these flagrant violations, making clear that they are not only a result of the moral slips and excesses of some people, but there are structural causes.

 Already we have overcome the idea that poverty is a result of human fate and that there are not sufficient resources to feed all of humanity. However, neoliberalism still foments the notion that there are no alternatives to this economic model.

 We are witness to an international farce. On one hand, the Brazilian government’s intention to eliminate hunger is applauded in meetings with the G8 (the group of the world’s most industrialized countries). At the same time, these countries control the main international financial institutions responsible for economic policies that intensify hunger and poverty in the world. 

More serious still is the fact that these international organizations, which develop economic prescriptions for marginalized countries, cannot be judged or judicially made responsible for the consequences of these policies. They themselves oversee the application of their own prescriptions.

 Nor even do they suffer from the consequences of their policies, as it happened in colonial times: if the colonizer committed an error in relation to its colony, it would suffer the repercussions. Today, the "colonizers" in the international financial system always win: they profit from the war in Iraq, they profit if the price of oil rises, they profit if it falls; they profit when Argentina goes into bankruptcy.

 This report shows that the main victims of human rights violations are in the excluded or less privileged sectors of our society.

 Attentive reading of this Brazilian reality also suggests possible solutions or paths to break away from this pattern. It strengthens our hope that a new world is possible. It stimulates the development of activists, preparing the subsequent moment of reaction and recovery in the struggle of social movements. 

The diverse coalition that has contributed to this report demonstrates that we are not isolated. It is very difficult to stand firm when we are alone. However, this work summons us to participate in the struggles to transform our society.

 São Paulo, October 12, 2004

Frei Xerri João, OP

Member of the International Dominican Commission of Justice and Peace in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Lília Azevedo

São Domingos Solidarity Group