June 28, 2022

Volkswagen appeared Tuesday earlier than a listening to with Brazilian prosecutors to reply to allegations of human-rights violations at a farm the German auto big ran throughout Brazil’s navy dictatorship, together with slave labor, rapes and torture.

Prosecutors introduced firm representatives with a 90-page file they are saying paperwork years of atrocities dedicated by VW managers and employed weapons at a cattle ranch the corporate owned within the Amazon rainforest basin within the Nineteen Seventies and 80s — the newest try to deliver justice for abuses dedicated below Brazil’s 1964-1985 navy regime.

The lead prosecutor within the case, Rafael Garcia, stated the closed-door listening to had concluded with an settlement that Volkswagen would submit a written response by September, with a brand new viewers to be held then.

“The federal prosecutors’ workplace for labor affairs is assured that on the finish of the proceedings, we could have enough reparations for the grave human-rights violations that ocurred,” he informed journalists.

Volkswagen didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Prosecutors say they’ve proof of years of atrocities dedicated on the property within the northern state of Para, referred to as Fazenda Vale do Rio Cristalino.

“There have been grave and systematic violations of human rights, and Volkswagen is immediately accountable,” Garcia informed AFP earlier than the listening to.

He stated the viewers was an preliminary contact to try to barter a settlement with out opening felony proceedings.

Volkswagen has stated it’s taking the accusations “very significantly.”

In 2020, Volkswagen agreed to pay 36 million reais ($6.4 million on the time) in compensation for collaborating with Brazil’s secret police in the course of the dictatorship to establish suspected leftist opponents and union leaders at its native operation, who have been then detained and tortured.

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A prosecution activity power spent three years assembling proof within the case.

The file incorporates accounts from victims who say they have been lured to the 70,000-hectare (173,000-acre) farm with false guarantees of profitable jobs, then compelled to chop down the jungle below grueling situations for Volkswagen’s cattle ranch, which turned the most important in Para for a time.

Staff have been saved in “debt-slavery” by being compelled to purchase meals and provides from the farm at exorbitant costs, prosecutors stated.

Those that tried to flee have been crushed, tied to timber and left for days by armed guards who saved violent watch over the workforce, they stated.

An image reveals the Volkswagen brand in a classic Volkswagen Kombi bus: the German carmaker faces an viewers with Brazilian prosecutors over allegations of human-rights violations at a farm it ran throughout Brazil’s navy dictatorship Picture: AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI

In a single case, three witnesses stated gunmen kidnapped a employee’s spouse and raped her as punishment after he tried to flee.

VW’s 2020 settlement caught the attention of Ricardo Rezende, a Catholic priest who spent years compiling proof of abuses at Volkswagen’s farm after transferring to Para in 1977 and listening to what he says have been horrifying tales from victims.

Rezende puzzled if the corporate may be held to account for that case, and determined to share his information with prosecutors, he informed AFP.

“You possibly can’t repair somebody struggling torture by paying reparations. The struggling of the ladies whose sons and husbands went to the farm and by no means got here again — there is no reparation for that ache,” stated the priest, now 70.

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“However there might be a symbolic reparation. I feel it is necessary.”

Rezende estimates a whole lot and possibly 1000’s of staff have been basically enslaved from 1974 to 1986.

What was a German automaker doing elevating cattle within the Brazilian Amazon within the first place?

The story is a window on how the navy regime noticed the Amazon, and helps clarify why the world’s largest rainforest is threatened at this time.

It was a time when Brazil was urgently pushing to develop the rainforest, which the regime noticed as backwards, luring settlers with promised riches.

The federal government additionally lured corporations. Volkswagen benefited from tax exemptions and negative-interest loans for slicing down the forest to develop a farm, to not point out shut ties with the regime, Rezende stated.

“On the one hand, Volkswagen cherished the dictatorship. On the opposite, it was a extremely worthwhile enterprise,” he stated.

“It might have 6,000 folks working virtually without cost.”

Authorities say such practices have been widespread within the Amazon area, even after the dictatorship.

Holding different corporations to account would rely upon gathering ample proof, Garcia stated.