Cablegate: G/Tip Lagon Visit to Sao Paulo Reveals Both Progress And

DE RUEHSO #0412/01 2121533
R 301533Z JUL 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 07 SAO PAULO 00958
B. 08 SAO PAULO 00276
C. 08 BRASILIA 00962
D. 08 RIO DE JANEIRO 00172


1. (SBU) Ambassador-at-Large Mark P. Lagon, Director of the State
Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
(G/TIP), visited Sao Paulo on June 26-27 as part of a multi-city
trip to Brazil. Ambassador Lagon met with both federal and
state-level members of the judicial and law enforcement communities
to discuss the challenges to combating trafficking in persons (TIP)
in Brazil. He also conversed with members of the NGO community on
issues involving forced labor and sexual exploitation. While most
interlocutors agreed that the situation is improving in Brazil, they
are still frustrated by the lack of implementation of existing laws
and the way that Brazilians, in general, still do not see TIP as a
major problem. Ambassador Lagon's message got a far more friendly
reception from law enforcement reps in Sao Paulo than it received
from some national level officials in Brasilia (Ref C). End

Legal Impediments to Combating TIP

2. (SBU) Discussions with federal and state law enforcement and
judicial officials revealed a number of problems with the Brazilian
legal system that make it difficult to combat trafficking in persons
(TIP). Although representatives initially agreed that, on a macro
level, they had sufficient legal support to fight TIP, deeper
discussions soon revealed that there were serious gaps in the legal
underpinnings for these efforts. Marcia Heloisa Mendoza Ruiz, Sao
Paulo Police Chief at the Department of Homicide and Protection of
the Individual, stated that she did not have sufficient legal
support under the existing laws to pursue seriously the cases she
had under investigation. Of the 21 cases of forced labor she was
currently investigating, all the accused were free on bail and
therefore free to potentially intimidate their accusers. She
lamented that she had no way to keep the accused in custody under
the existing legal structure. Ruiz also noted that undocumented
migrants from Paraguay and Bolivia are terribly exploited in
sweatshops in Sao Paolo, and routinely deported. Ruiz added that
sex trafficking victims in Sao Paulo are both male and female,
adults and minors. In Sao Paulo's brothels, both female and male
victims can be found while on the streets, victims are typically
women and transvestites, and are often subjected to physical abuse.
Ruiz finds it extremely difficult to rely on victim cooperation or
testimony to build her cases as victims usually choose to protect
their traffickers, and refuse police or NGO assistance. Most of her
investigations are corroborated through wiretap evidence.

3. (SBU) Steven Shuniti Zwicker, Federal Prosecutor, concurred with
Ruiz'views. He added that Brazilian law does not provide sufficient
benefits or protections to TIP victims to encourage them to testify
against their accusers. Women forced into both prostitution and
drug trafficking have little protection from their former
traffickers if they decide to testify against them. Zwicker
concluded there is virtually no incentive for a victim to testify
given that, unlike in the U.S., the victim cannot plea bargain her
potential prostitution/drug trafficking conviction into a lesser
sentence in exchange for her testimony. Thus, a victim who would
report her trafficker to the police risks her life and receives no
benefit in terms of her own charges and exposure to jail time.
Zwicker also indicated that there are legal difficulties with
assisting a TIP victim if he or she is in the country illegally.
Currently Brazil lacks sufficient legal or statutory instruments for
protecting undocumented foreign TIP victims from deportation. In
addition, Brazil lacks a sufficient protection network on labor
trafficking cases, and Bolivian labor victims, for example, often
turn up in other sweatshops shortly after rescue. In response to a
question from Ambassador Lagon, Zwicker noted that the GOB typically
finds it difficult to work with statistics, or developing a database
on criminal cases. Ruiz diagnosed the GOB's problem as failing to
organize its anti-trafficking efforts properly. Ambassador Lagon
suggested possibly arranging a visitor program to the US for
Brazilian law enforcement officials or organizing digital video
conferences (DVCs) among officials from Sao Paulo, Brasilia, and
Washington, DC. Roundtable participants agreed such initiatives
would be worthwhile.

SAO PAULO 00000412 002 OF 004

4. (SBU) Fabio Ramazzini Becharra, Assistant to the Sao Paulo State
Attorney General , mentioned that most legal cases that could/should
be treated as "classic trafficking in persons cases" were often
prosecuted under other laws. Because it is so difficult to prove
TIP and because most victims will not testify out of fear or lack of
incentives, most TIP cases are prosecuted under anti-money
laundering initiatives or tax-evasion statutes. Becharra cited the
example of a famous Sao Paulo brothel known for catering to high
society clientele. The owner was well known and had even made
appearances on local TV talk shows advertising his "men's club" and
bragging about his lucrative business which earned profits of R30
million per year (approximately 19.2 million USD at current exchange
rates). When the brothel was finally closed, the owner was not
prosecuted under any TIP or sexual exploitation laws, but was
instead held for money laundering and tax evasion. Ruiz agreed
with Becharra's assessment but added that, when she asks for
financial records in an attempt to combat TIP under money laundering
and tax-evasion laws, she is often stymied by judges who deny her
access to this information.

5. (SBU) All of the law enforcement and judicial representatives
agreed that there was a lack of information flow on trafficking
cases among federal, state and municipal governments. During a
meeting with Ricardo Filippi Pecoraro, Officer in Charge at the
Federal Police office at Guarulhos International Airport, Pecoraro
complained about the absence of interagency cooperation. He
lamented that Brazil's law enforcement agencies do not have a
tradition of working together. He noted the lack of inter-agency
task forces and stated that while the federal police and the federal
prosecutors worked together well in Sao Paulo, he did not believe
this was the case in other cities. Pecoraro added that more than
100,000 travelers pass through Guarulhos daily, and he lacks
sufficient personnel to identify victims. He has worked on one
large "trafficking" case which involved counterfeit passports.
(Comment: Pecoraro didn't appear to recognize the distinctions
between alien smuggling and trafficking-in-persons offenses. End

6. (SBU) In a separate meeting, Becharra expanded on Pecoraro's
statements claiming that Brazil did not understand the issue of
trafficking on a "national level," or from a cultural standpoint,
particularly in terms of victim assistance. He added that he did
not see the GOB making TIP a priority, and therefore there was not
enough legal or social service support to truly fight it and to help
and treat victims. Furthermore, Becharra said the GOB lacked an
understanding of how TIP may be directly connected to other
crimessuch as money laundering, drug trafficking, and other
offenses. Subsequent meetings with Luiz Antonio Marrey, Sao Paulo
State Secretary of Justice and Jose Gregori, former Federal Minister
of Justice and President of the Municipal Commission for Human
Rights, reinforced this conclusion. Marrey also pointed out that
trafficking crimes tend to be overlooked by the government as "not
so serious," when compared to widespread problems with gangs, guns,
and violent crime. While Brazilian laws against human trafficking
could be more stringent, he said, there was no point in enacting
tougher laws if there was no overall commitment by the society to
combat the problem. Marrey added that on a municipal level, he
believed many local leaders in Sao Paulo State and in other regions
are complicit with TIP and use forced labor in their own businesses.
According to Marrey, the sexual exploitation of minors in
prostitution simply could not take place without the complicity of
local police (sometimes even as customers). Police corruption is
worse on the state level; federal forces have a higher degree of
professionalism, Marrey concluded.

7. (SBU) Marrey also discussed the problem of sexual tourism in
Brazil, and how tourists from Portugal, Spain, and Italy (among
other countries) travel to northeast Brazil to engage in commercial
sexual exploitation. Brazilian male prostitutes also are in high
demand by such tourists. He stated that Brazil needs to educate the
public about TIP and related crimes and enforce existing laws. On a
more positive note, Gregori affirmed that while there were still
significant TIP/human rights issues in Brazil, in his opinion, "the
country is moving in the right direction" by signing the Palermo
protocol and investigating existing cases. He also opined that
Brazil's development of ethanol will be followed up with a concern
for protecting human rights. Ambassador Lagon thanked Marrey and
Gregori for meeting with him, and pledged to "raise up (did he mean

SAO PAULO 00000412 003 OF 004

"support," and if so, how? -- with funding, tech assistance,
training?) what Sao Paulo is doing" to fight human trafficking.

Small Victories in Combating Forced Labor

8. (SBU) Meetings with NGOs reinforced Post's view that forced
labor continues to be an issue within Brazil and that efforts to
combat it vary significantly by region and sector. Leonardo
Sakamoto, Coordinator of Reporter Brasil, stated that while forced
labor continues principally in the cattle, charcoal, soy, and cotton
sectors (Reftel A), in addition to timber, corn, sugar cane, fruit,
and palm tree sectors, Reporter Brasil had noticed some improvements
as well as continuing concerns. Sakamoto spoke of the "tripod"
necessary for forced labor to take place: poverty, greed, and
impunity. Brazil combats forced labor through three main
mechanisms: labor prosecutions, the "Dirty List," and the National
Pact to Eradicate Slave Labor. Criminal prosecutions and trials in
Brazil, however, are very slow, taking an average of four to six
years to complete. Convictions and jail-time sentences are
difficult to obtain and uphold on appeal, especially of landowners.
Nonetheless, the number of forced labor prosecutions and trials
appears to be increasing in Brazil.

9. (SBU) The cattle industry is an example where increased
production in more remote areas lends itself to possible TIP
violations. However, many ranches with a direct link to consumers
(JBS, Carrefour, Pao de Azucar) have made a noteworthy improvement
in their practices. Government labor inspectors have rescued
substantial numbers of workers from cattle ranches over the past
year. Sakamoto related the story of a slave labor victim in Para
who complained about poor working conditions. The landowner said to
the victim: "Here the law is me" and then branded the victim.
Sakamoto noted that a number of large companies (Bunge, Cargill,
ADM) are consulting the "Dirty List" (Reft A) before purchasing from
independently owned farms or calling Reporter Brasil directly to
ensure that forced labor is not used in their supply chain (Texaco
and Exxon).

10. (SBU) Sakamoto noted that the National Pact to Eradicate Slave
Labor contains anti-slavery commitments from more than 100 companies
in Brazil, whose financial worth represents 22 percent of Brazil's
GDP. According to Sakamoto, "this pact is changing the way
investors are doing business." When asked about trends in the pig
iron, charcoal and sugar cane industries, Sakamoto stated that, at
this time, it is very difficult to determine if conditions are
improving, worsening or staying the same. While individual
companies have made improvements, other companies are taking no
action at all and the situation is expanding and worsening in some
regions. Reporter Brasil is working to develop a new index by which
to measure conditions in these sectors. Sakamoto also noted that a
constitutional amendment to allow the expropriation of property in
cases where slave labor is used is back on the House floor after
failing passage in 2004 (Ref A).

11. (SBU) Paulo Illes, Coordinator of the Center for Support of the
Migrant (CAMI), also noted during an NGO roundtable lunch the small
victories in NGO and government efforts to combat the use of
Bolivian forced labor in the textile industry (Refs A, B). After
ascertaining that a number of the textile sweatshops in the City of
Sao Paulo were operated by Korean nationals, CAMI alerted the Korean
Embassy and met with the owners of twelve such shops. Korean
interlocutors were initially skeptical, indicating that Bolivian
victims were accustomed to such conditions based on "cultural
traditions." However, a minimum standard for working conditions was
eventually negotiated with the owners, and the City of Sao Paulo is
now using these standards as the basis for new recommendations for
work conditions in the industry. Despite the responsiveness of the
local government on this issue, Illes lamented that most Bolivian
workers still hesitate to come forward and complain of their
miserable working conditions because they would face job loss, fines
and potential deportation by the GOB.

12. (SBU) Illes indicated that Brazil should amend its immigration
laws to protect undocumented trafficking victims from deportation,
and said that developing a system where migrants can obtain legal
status as registered workers would provide better protection against
exploitation. Other NGO participants noted additional concerns
about the GOB's anti-trafficking efforts, such as failure to
implement the national anti-trafficking plan. Moreover, certain

SAO PAULO 00000412 004 OF 004

states and cities with high numbers of trafficking victims (for
example, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Para, and
Pernambuco) are ahead of the federal government and are pushing the
federal government forward on this issue. In Sao Paulo, 146
trafficking victims have been identified this year, and a
significant number of criminal cases are pending. However, the
greatest challenge to successful prosecution is "bringing the
judicial branch over." Prosecution efforts have suffered from a
lack of specific anti-trafficking laws, and judges use legal
loopholes to avoid imposing significant prison terms on traffickers.
In addition, cultural issues such as victims not recognizing
themselves as victims and regarding traffickers as "heroes" impede
progress. Maria do Socorro N. da Silva, Service for Marginalized
Women, indicated that the tourism industry had signed a code of
conduct against child sex tourism in 2006, but minors are still
sexually exploited in a number of hotels. She stated that a
certification system without an inspection mechanism doesn't work,
and that greater measures need to be taken against child sex

Differing Goals Stymies Information Flow between the Police and NGOs

13. (SBU) During our meeting with Marcia Ruiz, Ruiz expressed her
disappointment with the lack of information flow from local TIP NGO,
ASBRAD (Brazilian Association for the Defense of Women and Youth).
She stated that the number of TIP victims who return to Brazil is
probably significantly higher than statistics show and that ASBRAD,
an NGO that assists suspected TIP victims as they enter Guarulhos
Airport, should be providing the police with more information. In
our subsequent meeting with Dalila Figueredo, President of ASBRAD,
she disagreed with Ruiz. ASBRAD's job, she said, was to win the
victim's trust. An ASBRAD connection to the police could undermine
that bond. She affirmed that ASBRAD would always support
trafficking victims if they choose to report to the police, but that
ASBRAD will not report on the victim's behalf. On a more positive
note, she stated that her hesitation to go to the police was not for
fear of police corruption and stated that in Sao Paulo, at least,
she thought the police force was trustworthy in TIP cases.

Comment: Real Progress, But Challenges Remain

14. (SBU) Despite the commentary and the clear frustration of some
of the interlocutors with the Brazilian legal system and the
impediments to combating TIP, nearly all participants noted progress
being made by Brazil. They indicated that the 2004 signing of the
Palermo Protocol elevated the issue of TIP on the national agenda,
and that slowly public officials and the populace at large are
learning about the problems TIP can cause. While greater
enforcement of existing anti-TIP laws and increased public awareness
are essential, most interviewees indicated that anti-TIP measures
had improved during their tenure working in the field.

Comment: Brasilia vs. Sao Paulo

15. (SBU) Ambassador Lagon's visit was generally well-received by
Brazilian state and local officials and NGO representatives.
Nonetheless, there was a clear difference between the reception in
Sao Paulo and that in Brasilia (Ref C). In Sao Paulo, Brazilian law
enforcement officials were open to continued dialogue with the U.S.
In contrast, in Brasilia some GOB officials told Ambassador Lagon
they were insulted by U.S. anti-TIP activities in Brazil and that
DHS's request for assistance in following up on allegations of the
use of forced labor in the charcoal/pig iron production chain was
"an imposition on Brazil's sovereignty."

16. (SBU) Overall, TIP offers the USG an excellent opportunity for
improved bilateral cooperation on human trafficking issues. Post is
exploring ways to get the Brazilian Sao Paulo/law enforcement
perspective on TIP better understood by some officials in the
capital. End Comment.


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