What the CPT does today
CPT staff members defined the Marabá chapter’s work as having the following main components:
Providing legal/juridical support by advising workers on their rights, individuals as well as leaders of Sindicatos; bringing assassinations to justice; and trying to obtain freedom and justice for victims of slave labor.
Serving as an resource for information pertinent to the campaigns and lives of local workers. This comes in many forms. One example given was that if a person is trying to get the rights to a piece of land or wants to camp out on that land, they can come to the CPT to find out which lands they have a better chance at based on which are public by law. The CPT can also help inform organizers about the political situation that may affect their attempt to collect or gain access to public services they currently lack. They provide more specified information resources in forums and events focused on women’s health and domestic violence, as well as seminars on alternate income methods for rural workers.
Finally, they work generally on the issue of modern-day slave labor, a system by which workers who receive jobs with certain companies (especially in the charcoal industry, which feeds into iron mining) end up locked into an endless cycle of debts to their employers and face violence if they try to escape. One of the CPT’s main jobs in this vein is to educate the public, since, as one staff member pointed out, most people in Brazil assume slave labor no longer exists. Through seminars and work in the public schools, they try to spread awareness that it is still a problem, although it has changed forms. Juridical work is also relevant for the slave labor issue, since the CPT has potential power to bring employers to justice and to get the courts involved with the issue. During the time that this study was carried out, one of the main staff people was working on a large report on slave labor in the Marabá region to be presented to the local government in hopes of increasing their attention to the issue.
Effects of Church changes on CPT work
The dominant consensus from CPT leaders regarding how their work has changed as a result of changes within the Catholic Church at large was that although their organizing was (and could be) much “stronger” with the support of the Church, they continue to do what they have always done, what needs to be done, in terms of supporting the workers’ movements, and they will continue to do so as long as problems continue. Furthermore, the movements themselves are autonomous, and will continue to organize regardless of what happens to their partner groups.
One CPT staff member said that when they had more direct support from the rest of the Church, it was
easier to do their work because “you could touch two parts of the person: the social question, and also the Sharp 12