Dados n. 20 Rio de Janeiro 1979

Peonagem na Amazônia

Esterci, Neide


ln discussions of the politics of the occupation of Amazonia in recent years, the groups most frequently mentioned are owners of agricultural and cattle enterprises and their workers, squatters or small producers who illegally occupy the land, and indigenous populations. This article concentrates on three questions relating to these groups. The first analyzes the relationship of the day laborers to the company. These have been viewed as simple wage earning relations. The author demonstrates that they involve many more significant aspects. These aspects are: the institution of debt as a form of immobility; payment for production; the company's use of middle-men when dealing with the workers; the existence of a private repressive force (jagunços), recruited by the firm from amongst the workers, for defending the interests of the owners against those of the workers and squatters. The second question focuses on the relations amongst the workers themselves. These have been considered within a dual model which presupposes the existence of only two types of workers contractors and unskilled day laborers. ln fact, this study demonstrates the existence of various hierarchical positions, qualifications, and distinct features. The existence of a set of highly articulated categories by which the workers classify themselves shows the complexity of the problem. A third question treats the social origin of the agents who integrate these relationships. This work considers both the complementary an contradictory nature of the relations which exist between the day laborers and the peasantry. The method of collection and interpretation used in this research is based upon the construction of social relations furnished by the agents who are involved in these relations. The data were obtained from open-ended interviews combined with direct observation of the situation.

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Peonagem na Amazônia