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News > Latin America

Brazil's Temer Blames Minister as Slave Labor Decree Slammed

  • Brazilian President Michel Temer.

    Brazilian President Michel Temer. | Photo: AFP

Published 23 October 2017

One of the measures outlined in the decree redefines slavery as being confined to "restrictions on the freedom of movement" of workers.

Pressure from various sectors of Brazilian society has forced Brazil's President Michel Temer to call on Labor Minister Ronaldo Nogueira to review a controversial decree that “put at risk” the definition of slave labor.

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“In truth, it was not my decree,” Temer claimed, distancing himself from the highly contentious order, according to Brasil 24/7, going on to say that the redefinition of slave labor was elaborated by Nogueira.

The resolution, adopted by the government and published Oct. 16 in the country's official gazette, altered the terms by which people who are exploited under conditions analogous to slavery could benefit from legal proceedings.

One of the measures outlined in the decree redefines slavery as being confined to "restrictions on the freedom of movement" of workers. However, experts note that such a reformulation pushes the country back to May 13, 1888, when the legalities of slavery were abolished in Brazil, the last country in the western hemisphere to do so.

Another sticking point that provoked widespread outrage is the newfound discretion of the labor ministry to divulge or disclose the names of those companies involved in slave labor practices.

Attempting to defend its decision, the Temer administration previously argued that “serious deviations” can result from going overboard with appeals made to the position of workers, citing an allege case where an employer was intimidated, insulted and beaten by employees for not having put a soap dish in staff bathrooms.

Amid this latest polemic involving the Temer administration, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is embarking on the latest phase of his "Lula Around Brasil Caravan." This time his bus tour will take him through the interior state of Minas Gerais.

“There are those who believe that governing is easy,” said Lula during an interview with Super Noticia FM in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais. He added that when he wants clear responses to the way things should be going he “asks the Brazilian people.”

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Brazil's former president also affirmed that he has witnessed firsthand the “damage” resulting from policies implemented by Temer. “I went to the northeast and realized that poverty, hunger and unemployment is returning. We're losing the rights we won in recent years.”

Lula's caravan kicks off in the city of Ipatinga and will truck on until Oct. 30.

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