Brazil Rescues 4,600 Slaves in 2008

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2009 7:24 PM CST
A Brazilian family at dinner on a coffee plantation, circa 1820. The woman feeds scraps to a small black child, whilst a female slave cools the air with a large fan.   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Brazil freed more than 4,600 slaves this year after storming a record number of remote farms, the Guardian reports. Often teaming up with federal police, the government's anti-slavery task force raided 255 farms, but advocates say thousands of poor are still being trapped into debt slavery. "It is a very sad situation that leaves you feeling impotent," said activist Leonardo Sakamoto.

Many of the slaves come from Brazil's poverty-stricken backlands, where middlemen promise people jobs and cart them off to remote plantations and ranches. Slaves work in squalid conditions and are often killed if they make demands. The government has offered money to the rescued slaves, Sakamoto said, but is yet to tackle the poverty and unemployment that make slavery possible.
(Read more enslavement stories.)