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28 Feb 2023

Brazil: Grape harvest workers rescued in regime analogous to slavery in Rio Grande do Sul

Wikimedia Commons

Around 207 men, mostly from Bahia, hired to work in the grape harvest in Bento Gonçalves, Rio Grande do Sul were rescued in a situation analogous to slavery.

They reported having been deceived by the promise of temporary employment, a R$4,000 salary, accommodation and paid meals. Three of them escaped and managed to notify the Federal Highway Police. Testimony of those rescued points out that the military police covered up the crime.

They worked for two companies that were hired by Aurora, Cooperativa Garibaldi and Salton wineries, important producers in the region. All three say they had no knowledge of the situation reported by the workers. Garibaldi and Aurora say that their contracts with these companies were only for unloading trucks. But the prosecutor emphasises that: "The productive chain of wine only exists if there is a worker bringing the grapes that are in the vineyard. The service-taking companies cannot say that they do not know what is happening at the end of the chain, resorting to willful blindness.