ELIAS AND NERISVAN

Augustman - - Slavery In Asia -

Elias and his brother Nerisvan were en­slaved on a cat­tle ranch in São Lu­cas where their liv­ing con­di­tions were ap­palling. They slept on ham­mocks in a di­lap­i­dated hut, left mostly ex­posed to the el­e­ments. They did not have ac­cess to a bath­room or even clean drink­ing wa­ter. When it came to food, the broth­ers were com­pletely de­pen­dent on a piti­less ranch hand. Elias re­calls he once asked for some money to buy meat but was only told “the poor were meant to be poor, and the rich to be rich”.

Elias and Nerisvan’s work­ing con­di­tions were no bet­ter. The pair was ex­pected to clear brush and han­dle toxic pes­ti­cides with­out any pro­tec­tive equip­ment. Al­though the farm was only six miles from a ma­jor city, they feared es­cap­ing be­cause of the threats they re­ceived from the farm boss. Wor­ried about his older brother’s con­stant ex­po­sure to toxic chem­i­cals, Nerisvan mus­tered enough courage to slip away and seek the help of the Comis­são Pas­toral da Terra, or Pas­toral Land Com­mis­sion. With the help of this or­gan­i­sa­tion the broth­ers re­ceived med­i­cal treat­ment and com­pen­sa­tion for dam­ages.

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