Volkswagen is accused of having a subsidiary enslave people on a farm in Brazil in the 1970s and 80s. The company has now been invited to a hearing.

Brazilian prosecutors have summoned Volkswagen do Brasil to a hearing on June 14 about possible slave labor on a subsidiary’s Amazon farm in the 1970s and 80s.

This emerges from a message from the prosecutor responsible for labor law in Brasília on Monday.

The investigation began in 2019 after prosecutors received documentation from a slave labor research group at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “We can assure you that we take the events described on the Fazenda Rio Cristalino very seriously,” said a spokesman for Volkswagen AG on request. However, due to a possible legal process in Brazil, they do not want to comment further.

The prosecutor responsible, Rafael Garcia Rodrigues, said Volkswagen was responsible for the alleged serious human rights violations committed on the farm known as “Fazenda Volkswagen” in Santana do Araguaia in the state of Pará.

Lack of medical care and poor nutrition

These are said to have included a lack of medical care, accommodation in inhospitable places without access to drinking water and poor nutrition. In addition, armed surveillance or debt bondage are said to have prevented workers from leaving the farm.

According to the investigator, the “Fazenda Volkswagen” was one of the largest companies in the rural Amazon region, and the car company wanted to get into the meat business at the time. It was founded in the 1970s and supported by the Brazilian military dictatorship that wanted to develop the Amazon. The farm was around 1390 square kilometers and had around 300 workers. The temporary workers responsible for the clearing, to whom the allegation of slave labor mainly relates, were not directly employed by the subsidiary.