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English Report


 In its 37 articles, the Report on Human Rights in Brazil 2004 brings forward important data and analysis about human rights in the country through recent years and especially in relation to the situation in 2004.

 The nearly 25 years of stagnation in per-capita income, with freezing of the worst income distribution and wealth, the irresponsible dependency of international capital in the short term and permanence of a neoliberal political economy in the 90s could not result in any scenario other than the predominance of poverty and the destruction of the social structure. This is the conclusion of Professor Marcio Pochmann, of the University of Campinas and Secretary of Development, Labor and Solidarity of the Municipality of São Paulo.

 What was seen in the rural area was the continuity of a sad panorama of violations of fundamental rights. In September 2004, the MST (Landless Workers Movement) carried out a survey showing that only 5440 families in its encampments had been settled since the beginning of the Lula government. Data from the National Agrarian Hearing indicate that from January to August 2004, the number of land occupations increased 47% in relation to the same period last year, rising to 271.

 The government rejected the proposal to expropriate 36 million hectares, with the goal of distributing land to 1 million families, at a cost of R$ 24 billion, alleging that it did not have sufficient funds and lowered the goal to 400 thousand families. However, the government increased the goal of the primary surplus with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to more than R$ 56.9 billion.

 Agribusiness, which concentrates land, water, and income, produces at a very high socio-environmental cost, predominantly for export, creating profits for a privileged elite. The irrigation of its monoculture consumes 70% of the water in the country. Its machinery takes the place of manual labor in the fields, in a country where the main problem is unemployment. In the states where the agribusiness has expanded, privately-funded violence has grown.

 In relation to the production of GMOs, it has benefited large landowners, large multinational corporations, and it’s based on chemical inputs. Another model of agriculture, proposed by social movements, is centered in small and medium sized farming units, organized in cooperative networks, local agro-industries, national businesses, strategic public businesses, and based in the productive diversity and in organic and agro-ecological technologies.

 For João Pedro Stedile, of the MST National Board, the refusal to carry out studies about GMOs creates great doubts about their security. “Besides this, what would be the problem in labeling such products? The supporters of releasing GMOs do not have the courage to say that they defend the monopoly of ten transnational corporations that control all the GMO seeds that exist in the world. What is in play is if this country can ensure food security for its people.”

 At the same time, the situation of people affected by dams continues to be critical. The World Commission on Dams estimated that one million people were expelled from their lands, because of construction of dams in Brazil. This corresponds to 300 thousand families. Eighty million people were already affected in the world. Data from the Movement of People Affected by Dams shows that of each 100 families displaced, 70 do not receive any type of compensation.

 The right to water is another point highlighted by the researchers in this Report. If 20% of the Brazilian population (around 37 million Brazilians) do not have access to drinkable water, 90% of the rural Brazilian population does not have environmental sanitation. Thirst is also on the peripheries of the cities, principally the medium and large sized ones. In sum, it is the poor who suffer thirst.

 Once again, the Report portrays the seriousness of slave work, a situation in which thousands of workers are found. From 1995 to 2004, the Special Inspection Group of the Ministry of Labor freed from slavery almost 12 thousand people. Among the people accused, some hold political office. Jorge and Leonardo Picciani, father and son who are state and federal Deputies respectively for Rio de Janeiro, have a ranch that was denounced in Mato Grosso; Deputy Inocêncio de Oliveira from Pernambuco has a ranch in Maranhão; and with a ranch in Pará, Mayor João Braz da Silva, of Unaí, Minas Gerais; and Francisco Donato de Araújo Filho, Secretary of State of the Government of  Piauí. 

 In the ranking of activities in which slave labor is used, farming accounts for 50% of the occurences, lumber and charcoal industries for 25%, agribusiness for another 25%. In the sectors that use slave work, there are many products that we consume on a daily basis.

 The debt to indigenous people remains huge. In the general accounting of indigenous lands, we have the following situation today: Indigenous lands registered as part of national heritage: 37.21%; ratified demarcation of boundaries: 6.66%; lands declared by order of the Minister of Justice: 6.06%; lands identified as Indigenous by the FUNAI: 4.6%; “undesignated” lands: 20.6%; and lands “without provision”: 21.81%.  With respect to violence against Indigenous peoples, the National Secretariat of the Indigenous Missionary Council has registered the murder of 16 Indigenous people so far in 2004.

 In urban areas, migrants are highlighted in this report. Coming to work in the sewing shops of São Paulo has become a common idea in Bolivia. Radio ads offer work with wages up to ten times the Bolivian minimum wage, plus housing and boarding. Everything seems easy. Because no experience is required there are many candidates. Even those who can’t afford the trip have an option: the “cats”[1]will pay for the trip and charge for it later. But the trip expenses are inflated and the wages reduced. Thus, indentured servitude is created. 

 The situation of impunity in the state of Espírito Santo is also portrayed here. In 2003, a year after the Special Mission of Combating Organized Crime had already been in a effect, the number of homicides rose to 1,782, or, in other words, 54.8 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, and the number of violent deaths was 2,228, which means 106.7 for every 100,000 inhabitants. Vitória is the Brazilian state capital with the largest number of deaths in between the ages of 15 and 24: 197.1 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants.  It is worthwhile to recall that UNESCO considers a situation as civil war when the index is above 50 deaths for every group of 100,000 inhabitants. 

 The housing deficit of Brazil is 6.6 million dwellings. Of these, 5.3 million are found in urban areas and 1.2 in rural areas. More than 10 million houses are lacking in infrastructure and 84% of the housing deficit is concentrated in families with an income of up to three minimum salaries. The average growth of the Brazilian population was 1.6% per year and of the population in the favelas, 4.3% per year, between 1991 and 2000. The 2000 census registered the existence of 1.7 million homes located in precarious settlements, with 6.6 million people.

 The salary losses of workers were also high. Comparing the gains in salary readjustments with the salary losses because of rotation, in the first half of 2004, we had around 5.1 million workers hired and 4 million laid off. The rotation brought an average salary loss of 40% for those who were rehired.

 Another alarming set of data: the treatment of AIDS in Brazil, which is a world-wide model, is threatened beginning in 2005 because of TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects on Intelectual Property Rights), made with 12 other trade agreements during the creation of the WTO and which gives a series of powers to the businesses that control patents. This submits many countries to technological dependence. TRIPS, signed during the Cardoso government, created a monopoly of essential products, such as food and medicine.

 Such is the case with AIDS. The developing countries that signed TRIPS had a period of 10 years to apply the agreement. So for example, India and Thailand, which developed medical products at low cost, waited to conform to the agreement. Brazil, on the other hand, applied TRIPS immediately upon signing it, which prevented our country from producing generic drugs and made us dependent on the drugs from India. Starting in 2005, India can no longer produce these medicines, so the costs of the AIDS treatment in Brazil will go from R$ 700 million per year to R$ 3.5 billion.

 Another subject monitored regularly in Brazil is torture. Despite certain measures adopted by the Brazilian government against torture and mistreatment, the implementation of the United Nations recommendations is still awaited. Abuses committed by the police continue unabated. The investigation of crimes committed by the police continues to be carried out by biased and inefficient courts. The Brazilian criminal system is in a precarious state, with overcrowded prisons, violation of sentences, and a lack of information about the situation of those in prison.