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March 28, 2008

The Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice leads UT delegation to Brazil during Spring Break to study Afro-descendant land rights

As part of a multi-year project on Afro-descendant and indigenous land rights in Latin America, the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at The University of Texas School of Law coordinated a weeklong, fact-finding delegation to Brazil to investigate and gather information on the status of collective lands claims by Afro-Brazilian communities.

The delegation was comprised of a multidisciplinary group of students enrolled in a semester-long class, Human Rights Research and Writing, taught by UT Law Professor and Rapoport Center Director Karen Engle.

Ten students from the School of Law, Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs joined Engle and UT Law Professor Ariel Dulitzky, the Center’s associate director, to conduct interviews and participate in discussions with Afro-descendant community representatives, government officials, NGOs, activists, and academic institutions about the successes, opportunities, challenges, obstacles, and delays that communities—largely comprising descendants of freed or escaped slaves—face in the titling process of their traditionally occupied lands referred to as quilombos, or terras de preto (black lands). The interviews took place in a variety of locations in Brazil, including Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, and Brasilia.

The students will use the results of this trip to write several academic papers as well as a comprehensive report detailing the findings of the project and making policy recommendations to relevant governmental, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations as well as policymakers.

To read a full story about the students’ experiences in Brazil and the mission of the delegation please go to: http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/humanrights/news/brazil.php.

The trip was co-sponsored by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, the Bridging Disciplines Program, and the Brazil Center.

Program Contact: Professor Karen Engle, Rapoport Center, UT Law, (512) 232- 7066.

Media Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or kfortune@law.utexas.edu.