Volkswagen in Talks With Brazilian Prosecutors Over Slave Labour

Volkswagen is to meet with Brazilian prosecutors on Tuesday. They accuse the German car manufacturer of having violated human rights when running a large farm during the military dictatorship in Brazil.


According to the prosecutors, slave labour was used there, among other things.

Volkswagen owned a cattle ranch in the Amazon rainforest in the 1970s and 1980s. This was stimulated by the military regime, which regarded the rainforest as a deprived area. In exchange for clearing forests and developing the land, companies received tax exemptions and negative-interest loans. In addition, Volkswagen benefited from close ties with the regime.

Nearly 6,000 people would have worked almost for free on the Volkswagen ranch. Prosecutors say they have prepared a 90-page file containing evidence of atrocities committed by Volkswagen executives and the company’s hired workers. These include allegations of rape and torture. Volkswagen has so far refused to comment on the case because it first wants clarity on all allegations.

In 2020, Volkswagen already paid around 5.5 million euros in damages and donations to express regret for its role in the persecution of former Brazilian employees during the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Volkswagen helped the army in the secret to identifying dissenters and union activists in their workforce. Many of the affected employees were fired, arrested or harassed by the police, and were unable to find work afterwards.

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