Protect Workers From Slavery-Like Conditions on Cattle Ranches

Target: Michel Temer, President of Brazil

Goal: Stop gutting anti-slavery programs and step up land distribution for the rural poor of Brazil.

For decades, cattle ranchers across Brazil have exploited rural workers under slavery-like conditions to work on ranches that were created by clear-cutting from the Amazon rainforest. These forced laborers are prevented from leaving due to unfair debts placed upon them and are made to live and sleep in cattle corrals like animals. To address this inhumane treatment, in the late 1980s Brazil began deploying rapid mobile law enforcement and prosecution forces tasked with inspecting ranches for abuse and rescuing exploited workers. Since 1995, it is estimated 50,000 workers were rescued under this successful program.

Now facing economic concerns, Brazil’s president Michel Temer has vowed to gut the anti-slavery program and to step back on all ranch inspections. With an estimated 161,000 Brazilians still languishing under forced labor conditions in Brazil’s remote regions, a lack of enforcement will likely roll back the progress the country has made in combating modern day slavery and human trafficking. According to Ronaldo Fleury, Brazil’s chief labor prosecutor, the country is “facing a regression of 130 years,” referring to the date when Brazil abolished legal slavery.

All instances of slavery and forced labor must be challenged wherever they occur in the world. Brazil must acknowledge the severity of this issue and commit to continuing its efforts to prosecute ranchers responsible for illegally exploiting workers. The government must also do more to address the underlying issue of land ownership inequality, where less than one percent of the population owns over half of the land, leaving the landless with few options for work and livelihood. Sign this petition to demand that Brazil remain vigilant against forced labor and urge President Temer to do more to empower rural Brazilians.


Dear President Temer,

The recent budget cutbacks, which will undermine efforts to prosecute cattle ranchers guilty of illegally forcing workers into slavery-like conditions, is a radical move in the wrong direction for Brazil. These cuts will leave little hope for the estimated 161,000 rural poor who fear deserting the wealthy land owners who hold them captive with virtually no pay. More, not less, must be done to enforce the existing laws in remote areas of the country where forced labor runs rampant.

I urge you to make sure that inspections continue on the ranches where these violations are suspected to occur. I also ask that you do more to address the issue of land ownership inequality, where the landless poor have been left with few opportunities to improve their lives. In working to increase land parcel distribution for rural families, thousands of Brazilians would be empowered and given options besides working for unscrupulous ranch owners.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS

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  1. Kathryn Irby says:

    Protect these Workers From Deplorable and Unacceptable Conditions on Cattle Ranches NOW!

  2. Brazil must not stop it’s anti-slavery program. The cattle ranchers involved should be investigated and imprisoned for their horrific crimes.
    Slavery of any type is inexcusable. The government has a responsibility to rescue these poor people and stop all slavery and exploitation of workers.

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