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Cablegate: Contacts Fear Trafficking in Persons On the Rise

VZCZCXRO0247
PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0276/01 1551659
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031659Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8266
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9395
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3415
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 3167
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1680
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 2717
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 3826
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0743
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2415
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 4124
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8740
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SAO PAULO 000276

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, INL, DRL, G/TIP
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DS/IP/WHA, DS/IP/ITA, DS/T/ATA
NSC FOR TOMASULO
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID FOR LAC/AA

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ELAB KCRM SMIG BR
SUBJECT: CONTACTS FEAR TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ON THE RISE

REF: 07 SAO PAULO 958

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Brazil's trafficking in persons (TIP) dilemma presents a
growing challenge to the law enforcement community and NGOs
assisting with TIP victims. Brazil is home to some cases of
agricultural forced labor as well as urban textile sweatshops where
Bolivian migrants work in precarious conditions. The country is
also a source of Brazilian women trafficked internationally as sex
workers. In order to combat this problem, Brazil needs clearer
legislation to address trafficking, including the adoption of
tougher sentences for criminals, as well as stronger measures to
protect migrants who are unaware of their rights. Additionally,
further training and oversight of Brazilian police charged with
border protection is a necessary component of any strategy to avoid
official complicity in trafficking. End Summary.

Sao Paulo and Trafficking
-------------------------

2. (SBU) Marcia Heloisa Mendonca Ruiz, the Sao Paulo State Civil
Police Chief in charge of the state's law enforcement efforts to
combat TIP, told Poloff that many Brazilians come to Sao Paulo with
the dream of finding high-salary employment, no matter what type of
employment it involves. Whereas TIP takes the form of forced labor
working in cattle raising, sugarcane harvesting and other
agricultural sectors in the country's north, or is manifested as
sexual exploitation in the tourism cities of the northeast, Sao
Paulo is home to several neighborhoods full of small textile and
clothes-making shops that hire cheap labor employed in miserable
working conditions (reftel). Ruiz complained that Brazilian
legislation is weak in addressing TIP, law enforcement and the
criminal courts do not really understand what constitutes a TIP
crime or how to investigate it, and the judiciary processes TIP
cases too slowly.

3. (SBU) Ruiz explained that organized crime is now involved in
trafficking and detailed how several groups that she helped
investigate employ networks of accountants, attorneys, and
transportation companies such as truck or van drivers to get TIP
victims to their final destination. Sao Paulo, with its two
international airports, large port, and many national and state
highways, is a logical base for many of these criminal
organizations. Ruiz said that cases of internal TIP are growing
annually. Her team rescued 30 victims and brought evidence forward
for the eventual prosecution of 14 traffickers in three operations
in 2006, while in 2007 the unit saved 100 victims in five cases
(although only one trafficker was prosecuted). Aside from cases of
internal trafficking, she added that many Brazilian women are
trafficked to Europe, particularly Spain, to be sexually exploited.
Recent press reports indicate that as many as 75,000 Brazilians may
be in Europe employed in the sex industry. This sex trade
exploitation is not only of Brazilians in Europe, but also has seen
the rise of trafficking of non-Brazilians into Brazil for sexual
exploitation. Paulo Illes, Coordinator of the Center for Support of
the Migrant, said that his organization, which provides legal and
employment assistance to some of the thousands of Bolivians living
in Sao Paulo, has seen dozens of cases of Paraguayan and Peruvian
girls trafficked into Brazil for the purpose of sexual exploitation
in the country. Maria do Socorro da Silva, Executive Secretary of
the NGO Marginalized Women's Service, highlighted a new phenomenon
in which Korean-Brazilians are trafficking Korean women to Sao Paulo
to have them used as prostitutes in neighborhoods dominated by
Korean immigrants.

Bolivians Used in Forced Labor

SAO PAULO 00000276 002 OF 004


------------------------------

4. (SBU) Ruiz stated that an additional major challenge in
combating TIP is that victims are not aware that they are working in
forced labor conditions. She repeated what experts in the field
note as one of the major difficulties in eradicating trafficking,
helping Bolivian (as well as Peruvian and Paraguayan) migrants who
are being used in forced labor in Sao Paulo's textile sweatshops.
Ruiz said that she is particularly concerned about the number of
Bolivian children who are born into or raised in sweatshops and
think that their surroundings are not out of the ordinary because
they do not know otherwise. In 2007, Ruiz and her team rescued 26
victims of forced labor in five cases leading to the imprisonment of
five individuals. (Note: She said that these numbers, which are
distinct from the trafficking figures cited in paragraph 3, have
remained more or less constant since she began collecting data in
1999. She asserted that one possible reason for the lack of
increases in the number of forced labor cases brought to trial and
the number of victims rescued was because her team is not able to
act on more leads due to budgetary and staff limitations. End
Note.)

5. (SBU) Center for Support of the Migrant (CAMI) Coordinator Illes
stated that Brazil has no policies to protect migrant workers,
particularly Bolivians and Paraguayans living in Brazil. Further
complicating the issue is that forced labor bosses are constantly
moving their bases of operation to avoid having law enforcement shut
down their textile sweatshops. He said that corrupt immigration
officials who accept bribes to wave through busloads full of
confused and naive Bolivians help augment trafficking. (Note:
Illes estimated that at least 1500 Bolivians enter Brazil every
month in search of work. End Note.) According to Illes, upon
arrival, traffickers force these Bolivians into debt bondage to pay
back "travel expenses."

...But Not According to Victims
-------------------------------

6. (SBU) Contacts stated that a major challenge in confronting
forced labor is the fact that victims themselves do not view their
work as a crime. Former Minister of Justice and Secretary of State
for Human Rights Jose Gregori, who is currently serving as President
of the Sao Paulo Municipal Commission for Human Rights, said that
many Bolivians know what their employment will entail working in
sweatshops, but prefer this type of labor as opposed to no
employment at all as would be the case in Bolivia. Civil Police
Chief Ruiz said that women exploited for sex often defend those who
trafficked them, particularly if they had the opportunity to "work"
in Europe, which she said many victims consider a badge of honor.
She stated that in Sao Paulo's textile sweatshops, even when they
work 14-hour days with no food in horrible conditions, the Bolivians
believe these settings are normal. Victims have a positive image of
their traffickers and forced labor bosses because the victims
believe it is due to the criminals that they are able to secure a
job, regardless of the conditions, Illes added. (EMBASSY NOTE: GOB
Justice, Labor, and Exterior Relations Ministry officials have been
aware of the presence of Bolivian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, and Chinese
immigrants in the sweatshops of Sao Paulo for some years. They
admit, however, that they do not have accurate statistics on the
numbers of people involved or their immigration status. The
situation is further complicated by the fact that travelers from
neighboring countries do not require tourist visas to enter Brazil,
but do require special visas and permits to work in-country.
Federal law enforcement and immigration officials note the
difficulty they face when trying to differentiate between
immigrants, especially Bolivians, who voluntarily travel to Brazil
in search of employment, and those who are trafficked into the
country under false pretenses and then fall into a classic debt
bondage situation. While they recognize the need to assist
immigrant TIP victims, they say they are faced with the dilemma of

SAO PAULO 00000276 003 OF 004


how to do so without attracting more illegal immigration based on
the perception that Brazilian immigration and labor laws are lenient
and its social assistance network (which includes TIP victim
assistance programs) is not overly generous to non-Brazilians. END
EMBASSY NOTE.)

Some Improvements but Challenges Remain
---------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Ruiz noted that following Brazil's 2004 adoption of the
Palermo Protocols (the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; and the
Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air),
the GOB moved to recognize TIP as not only an issue involving
individuals being trafficked with Brazil as the source country, but
also acknowledged the existence and challenges of trafficking within
Brazil. Marginalized Women's Service Executive Secretary Silva said
that while the Brazilian Government has not done enough to combat
TIP until recently, it is currently attempting to strengthen
national programs aimed at educating potential victims. Silva added
that government-sponsored public fora highlighting TIP and
legislation recognizing internal TIP are new measures that could
help in the fight against trafficking. She complained that
sentences brought against traffickers are still too light, however,
and that legislation needs to increase the time criminals serve in
jail for collaborating in TIP. Silva noted that one trafficker's
case was dismissed even though the judge admitted in her closing
statement that she was aware that he had 71 pictures in his
possession of his sexual activity with minors he had trafficked.
According to Silva, the trafficker threatened to reveal to whom he
had sold these children, apparently mid-level government officials
in Brazil's northeast. Silva said that this was just an example of
a phenomenon that occurs regularly and that the law needs to address
these types of issues immediately.

Focus on Foz do Iguacu
----------------------

8. (SBU) During a recent visit to the city of Foz do Iguacu, in the
heartland of the Tri-Border Area where the boundaries of Argentina,
Brazil and Paraguay meet, Poloff discussed TIP with members of the
Network for the Protection of Children and Adolescents in the
Tri-Border Frontier, an association of NGOs, representatives of
major local companies and government agencies. Edinalva Severo from
the NGO Sentinel Program to Attend to Victims of Sexual Violence
stated that a major challenge for the anti-TIP network is getting
the police to understand comprehensively the meaning of trafficking
and how to combat its existence. Valtenir Lazzarini, Director of
the Our Home Foundation, which provides assistance to abandoned
children including recovering trafficked youth, said that when the
police do not investigate a crime as specifically a trafficking
issue, the crime becomes a "source for impunity" because
transgressors know they will get off on a less serious violation.
He complained that Brazil has a shortage of law enforcement
officials working to combat TIP.

9. (SBU) Ricardo Rachid de Oliveira, a federal judge who presides
over cases involving international crimes in the Tri-Border Area,
said that the number of TIP cases he reviews continues to grow. He
recently reviewed an investigation in which police stopped a bus
full of Bolivians entering Brazil to work in Sao Paulo's sweatshops
being operated by a Paraguayan and a two Brazilians. He added that
Brazilian women from the region are trafficked to Argentina and
Spain where they are sexually exploited. According to Oliveira, the
greatest difficulty in combating TIP is that those who are being
trafficked do not recognize themselves as victims of a crime.
Oliveira said that the fact that the police are not looking at
certain TIP cases as such, and that Brazil's criminal courts are not
well-prepared to handle TIP crimes, are additional challenges.


SAO PAULO 00000276 004 OF 004


Comment
-------

10. (SBU) While our contacts tell us that trafficking in persons
and forced labor continue to be serious issues in Brazil, efforts to
educate the public and to open up discussion on TIP, as well as the
government's adoption of the Palermo Protocols, are all positive
signs that efforts are underway to combat these crimes. Continued
training of the law enforcement community is vital and educational
programs in schools will also help, but even with these efforts,
criminal organizations are likely to find ways around tougher
anti-TIP barriers. Many Brazilian officials seem to be open to
greater USG support to combat TIP, offering a unique opportunity for
more bilateral cooperation. Pursuing these avenues at both the
state and federal levels could potentially help ameliorate the
situation. End Comment.

11. (U) This cable was coordinated with and cleared by Embassy
Brasilia.

WHITE

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