Brazil: a woman who spent 72 years in slavery was freed

a woman who passed 72 years enslaved in Rio de Janeiro was released from the family that kept her in that condition, in the longest case of human exploitation recorded in Brazilas today marks the 134th anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery.

The Public Ministry of Labor reported the case this Friday, as part of the anniversary of the Golden Lawwhich turned Brazil on May 13, 1888 into the last country in the West to officially abolish slaveryafter three centuries of being one of the emblematic places of the African slave trade.

In this framework, the black movement —which qualifies the date as a “false abolition”— went to the Federal Supreme Court to recognize “a policy of death to black bodies” that needs justice and reparation.

The woman was released two months ago from the family home where started working at age 12in the north of Rio de Janeiro, and is part of the contingent of 58,000 Brazilians released by the Public Ministry of Labor for having been subjected to work equivalent to slave labor.

The Public Ministry of Labor reported that cases of people subjected to slavery “as if they were family” are more common than is perceived in the country, where 53% of the population declares itself Afro-descendantaccording to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).


Photo: Telam

The 84-year-old woman released is in an asylum, where she receives the help of social workers, and does not perceive that she suffered slavery.

“She has no idea that she was enslaved after working her whole life for all the members of the family. He did not marry, did not have children and lost contact with relatives“, said the social worker Cristiane Lessa, in charge of the case.

The old lady slept in a small sofa located in a room of the house throughout his life of subjection, without receiving a salary or being able to have a profession, education or contact with his relatives.

The woman had no documents and the family assures that she was an employee, without being allowed to enjoy no rightreported the labor prosecutor Alexandre Lyra.

Since taking office in 2019, the president Jair Bolsonaro He launched himself against the work of the Public Ministry of Labor by denouncing a “fine industry” for inspections of slave labor in Brazilian agribusiness, the electoral base of the far-right leader.

In 2021, according to data from the Judiciary, the record (1,937 people) of the last seven years in people rescued from degrading work or work similar to slavery was broken.

The case of this woman from the north of Rio de Janeiro dates back to the 1950s, when his parents worked for the landowner family in the fields. At age 12, she was sent to work in the family’s homes, mostly as a nanny.

Since March 15, the Mattos family has been negotiating with the labor prosecutor’s office for the payment of taxes and social security charges for having kept this woman as a legally unpaid employee.

The perpetrators of the crime could be sentenced to between two and eight years in prison.

The case was disclosed precisely on the anniversary of the date on which Princess Elizabeth signed the Golden Laweliminating slavery in Brazil in legal terms, after which the Empire of Brazil was overthrown on November 15, 1889, the following year, by a military coup that established the republican system and the end of the monarchy.

The Brazilian black movement, on the other hand, does not celebrate this date but adheres to the holiday of November 20, the black consciousness dayin homage to Zumbí dos Palmares, the slave leader who led a rebellion and founded one of the first “quilombos” (palenques in Spanish America), communities of runaway slaves from their masters.

“How many arrobas are you weighing”

The anniversary coincided with a comment made on Thursday by Bolsonaro on his social networks, in which compared blacks to animals: “How many arrobas are you weighing,” Bolsonaro told a black follower, laughing, when using the weight measurement of cattle.

It is the second time he has made this type of comment: the first was in the 2018 presidential campaign before the Jewish community, when he said that blacks did not want to work, a statement for which he was prosecuted by the General Prosecutor of the Republic when he had the position of deputy.

“The other time I went to a ‘quilombo’ and the lightest Afro-descendant weighed seven arrobas. They don’t do anything, they don’t even serve to procreate. A fortune is spent on them,” he said at the time.


Photo: file-La Nueva.

This Friday, Bolsonaro attended an act of the São Paulo Militarized Police, where he promised to work for a law to exempt from responsibility the police officer who kills in the line of duty.

“If you carry a weapon, on your waist or on your chest, it is to use it. And we, heads of the Executive, must provide support and security for the fulfillment of the mission. My great dream is to approve the law of exclusion of illicit the police, so that after a mission they go with their family and not give explanations to a judge,” said the president.

The Brazilian black movement took advantage of the date of May 13 to make their demands with demonstrations in the main squares of Brazil.

In the legal framework, the Black Coalition for Rights went to the Supreme Court for recognition of “black genocide” in the post-slavery era, as announced by leaders Douglas Belchior and Sheila de Carvalho, based on statistics on the deaths of black youth in the suburbs by the police. (Telam)

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