2001: Darci Frigo, Brazil
Promoting Rights of the Landless and Sustainable Agriculture in Brazil and Combating Modern-Day Slavery
Although the Brazilian Constitution guarantees citizens the right to land, the arable land of Brazil has been unfairly and illegally distributed in favor of large corporations and wealthy citizens. Land reform efforts have often been met with violent resistance. Landless agricultural workers have been exploited by corrupt government officials and wealthy landowners working under horrible conditions. Frequently, these plantations damage the environment through growing genetically engineered cropsthat require agrotoxins and quickly deplete the soil's nutrients and contribute to the elimination of the rainforests. Darci Frigo, 2001 Human Rights Award Laureate and founder of the NGO Terra de Direitos (TDD), fights to give land to the landless, put an end to modern-day slavery, ensure more sustainable stewardship of the land and protect Brazil's biodiversity.
Although a comprehensive land reform initiative is supported by President Lula, the project has been impeded by the government's obligation to utilize their resources to pay back a heavy foreign debt burden. RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights is laying the groundwork with international financial institutions and other major donors by advocating that a "rights-based" approach to land reform should be given at least equal funding to the present ideologically driven "market-based" approach. RFK Center is assisting Frigo and TDD in advocating before President Lula to request additional funding from the international community for Brazil's constitutionally mandated land reform. RFK Center is supporting TDD through research, capacity building, and complimentary advocacy before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, World Bank, and the Lula Administration.