Volkswagen accused of slavery in Brazil in the 70s and 80s

In Brazil, Volkswagen is accused of having set up a system of slavery and human rights abuses in the 1970s and 1980s.

In Brazil, a very dark page in the history of Volkswagen is resurfacing. The builder is facing legal action in the country, in a case that speaks of contempt for human rights, slavery, and even rape.

Rafael Garcia, the prosecutor in charge of the case in the country, paints a horrifying picture of the working conditions faced by the “employees” ofa farm run by Volkswagen in Brazil.

“Workers who tried to escape were beaten, tied to trees, and left behind for days (…). Those who tried to flee into the forest never returned. There were rumors that they were simply killed. The workers were systematically physically abused”.

A form of modern slavery, abuse, rape…

The lawsuit shows that the farm in question, managed for the period of the Brazilian dictatorship (1964-1985), attracted workers with the promise of stellar wages. But they were then forced to cut, in inhumane conditions, to clear the forest to prepare for the arrival of the Volkswagen farm.

The case emerged after the testimony of a priest, and took three years to reach this trial phase. It must be said that the charges are particularly heavy. According to Rafael Garcia, the workers were kept in a system of slavery, being forced into debt to buy food. Some would be deaths from malaria, without any medical attention. A particularly violent testimony refers to the kidnapping then rape of a worker’s wife who had tried to escape.

Volkswagen already involved in a scandal in Brazil

The trial will begin next June 14. The prosecution team hopes to reach an agreement with Volkswagen for the compensation for survivors. If necessary, legal action may be taken. Volkswagen has already had to face justice in Brazil in 2020. The manufacturer had to pay more than 6 million dollars in compensation for its collaboration with the secret police of the dictatorial regime, which had led to the arrest and torture of political dissidents.

Source: AFP via France 24

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