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25 Feb 2023

Fair Planet

Brazil: Men held in slave-like situation in grape harvest report torture with shock and pepper gas

"Forced labour vineyards in brazil expose modern slavery", 28 February 2023

...The most recent case involving forced labour in conditions analogous to slavery has just been discovered in Brazil, staining the reputation of the wine industry. Over 200 people - most of them brought from northeastern Brazil in buses - were rescued from vineyards in the southern State of Rio Grande do Sul and denounced the violent ways of repression supposedly used to maintain their captivity by those who first employed them. The wine brands involved in the case will naturally have the right to defend themselves in a due process, but evidence found by the authorities indicate grave human rights violations. 

Several wineries operating in this region recruited foreign workers, promising them high salaries for working the manual harvest which cannot be performed easily mechanically due to the steep hills. However, these foreign workers soon found themselves subjected to 18 hour workdays, physical violence like electric shocks and pepper spray, delayed and low payments, and were coerced to remain on site. Federal police arrived onsite to investigate and found hundreds of forced workers living in degrading conditions. The owner of the company, which operates with several wineries in the region, was arrested but released on bail shortly after.

...In Brazil alone, the Ministry of Work and Social Security reports that there were 462 operations of this kind in 2022, leading to the rescue of 2,575 workers in slave-like conditions...