Although many people are unaware that slavery still exists, it is alive and thriving in many countries. In his book Disposable People, Kevin Bales discusses the issue of slavery in Brazil. Slavery has been present in Brazil since it was colonized in the early sixteenth century. The slave trade was officially abolished in 1854 but this did not end slavery within the country. Brazil’s current economic situation has created a society full of poverty and crime where slavery flourishes. Although slavery is unethical and immoral anywhere it is practiced, the world should pay close attention to this area in particular.
Brazilian slavery is directly tied to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which will continue to have detrimental environmental effects on a global scale. Slaves in Brazil are used in agricultural enterprises. Cheap labor is exploited and the rainforest is being cut down for profit. The world could see a dramatic climate change with its elimination. The Amazon also keeps the production and absorption of oxygen balanced. Throwing this balance off will have damaging effects to the ozone layer, which could increase global warming. Slavery in Brazil should be a main priority of all major countries because of its potential to have these serious effects. There is little concern involving the practice of slavery. If more countries knew the devastation slavery can cause, perhaps they would be more willing to show support for its elimination.
Bales describes the difficulty of trying to end slavery in Brazil, but he also believes that the world is making progress in the fight. Although alerting the media about the situation and putting economic pressure on the people in charge in Brazil has had excellent results, Bales says that this approach is not enough. It is up to the Brazilian people to end slavery in their country. This elimination, however, will be difficult for the Brazilians, especially with such a weak economy. Brazil will need to continue to receive economic support from the rest of the world. Another idea that the world should consider is that better protection of the rainforest may help reduce the practice of slavery in Brazil.
Mark London and Brian Kelly, two of the world’s leading experts on the Amazon, have their own plan to save the rainforest. Supported by the Marriot chain of hotels, they have created protected communities on the outskirts of the forest. The people in these communities serve as protectors and guardians of the Amazon rainforest. In return, the Brazilians that live there receive money, food, and a more modern place to live. This system helps reduce poverty and could help reduce slavery in Brazil.