LATINO VOICES
02/11/2015 11:51 am ET Updated Feb 11, 2015

These Pictures Prove Brazil's Legacy Of Slavery Is Not A Thing Of The Past

In 1889, Brazil became the last country in the Americas to outlaw slavery. More enslaved Africans were sent to Brazil than any other country in the hemisphere.

That legacy of racial slavery is readily apparent in Brazil's socioeconomic structure today.

Among the poorest 10 percent of the population, 72 percent are black or mixed-race, according to a 2012 study by the Institute of Applied Economic Research. Researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro calculated in 2013 that if the Brazilian population were divided along racial lines, whites would occupy the 65th position on the U.N. Human Development Index, while Afro-Brazilians would only reach 102nd place.

Despite all that, Brazil is also home to what may well be the largest slavery reparations program ever attempted. Article 68 of the 1988 Constitution grants a permanent, nontransferable title to the land occupied by settlements started by runaway slaves, known in Portuguese as "quilombos."

In 2003, the leftwing government of Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva expanded the legal definition of the word "quilombo," classifying it as an ethnicity. Under Brazilian law, the change meant that now virtually any black community could apply for benefits under the law if a majority of its residents so decided.

The Brazilian government had certified some 2,400 communities as quilombos by 2013, with hundreds more waiting for approval. The law affects more than 1 million people and the territory claimed by the quilombos across Brazil totals about 4.4 million acres -- roughly the size of New Jersey.

The promised land is not forthcoming for most of these communities. Only 217 quilombos had received their constitutionally guaranteed land titles as of last year. But the growing movement's massive scope makes clear that Brazil's legacy of slavery is not a thing of the past.

The Huffington Post reported on Brazil's quilombo movement in a two-part series last year. The photos below, some of them published here for the first time, were taken as part of that project.

PHOTO GALLERY
The Quilombos Of Brazil
CONVERSATIONS