ELIAS AND NERISVAN
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.