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The Volkswagen Farm: The Corporate Responsibility of a Project Financed by Public Resources and That Used Slave Labor in the Amazon during the Dictatorship (1973-1986)


This article analyzes the experience of the Volkswagen Farm (1973-1986), an initiative of a large rural property established in Southeast Pará during the Brazilian dictatorship for extensive cattle raising. It is based on documents about the project that the Superintendency for the Development of the Amazon (Sudam) recently made available. To analyze the episode, we dialogue with the scholarship dealing with corporate responsibility for violations committed during South America’s dictatorships in the second half of the twentieth century, notably the work of Ricardo Rezende Figueira, José de Souza Martins, Benjamin Buclet, Antoine Acker, and Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky. The analysis of Sudani’s documentation verified that the Volkswagen Farm caused severe environmental devastation, used hiring agents who employed slave labor, and relied on an abundant injection of public resources, making the project representative of the truculent modernization process of Brazilian capitalism during the dictatorship.

Volkswagen; Brazilian Dictatorship; Amazon; Corporate Responsibility; Slavery

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