U.S. Honors Brazilian Pureza Lopes Loyola for Fight Against Human Trafficking

She was one of eight people honored by U.S. Secretary of State 


Brasilia, June 16, 2023: On June 15, Brazilian Pureza Lopes Loyola was one of eight people honored by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with the 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report Hero Award. The U.S. Department of State recognized Ms. Pureza for her personal efforts to combat slavery in Brazil.  Her struggle gained attention nationwide and led to the creation in 1995 of the Mobile Inspection Group, which brought together labor inspectors, federal police officers, and labor prosecutors to enforce labor laws in Brazil. Between 1995 and 2022, the Mobile Inspection Group freed more than 60,000 workers in conditions analogous to slavery.

Pureza Lopes Loyola was born in Presidente Juscelino, a city 85 km from São Luís, and moved to Bacabal, 240 km from the capital, close to her husband’s family. When her marriage ended, her survival depended on the brick factory where she worked shoulder to shoulder with her five children. 

Ms. Pureza‘s story became widely known thanks to the movie “Pureza” (directed by Renato Barbieri).  The film tells the true story of Ms. Pureza leaving her home to embark on a three-year quest to find her son who was held captive in a farm after searching for work in mines in the Amazon in the 1990s.  The search for her son led her through gold mines, charcoal production units, and farms, where she discovered a pervasive system of slavery as workers were forced to cut down large extensions of the Amazon Forest to convert the area into pasture for cattle. She discovered the inner workings of the slave system in which enslavers confiscated workers’ identity documents, forced them into debt, and controlled them with cruelty. She witnessed and heard dramatic accounts of workers threatened with death if they tried to rebel or escape.

Since 2004, the U.S. Department of State has recognized heroes from around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking.  The TIP Report is the U.S. government’s principal diplomatic and diagnostic tool to guide relations with foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights, law enforcement, and national security issue.

Official photo of the event: https://flic.kr/p/2oHoHDf