August 2005 It's been over a century since Brazil officially abandoned slavery. But tens of thousands of impoverished workers are still being enslaved. Every year, some 50,000 slaves turn an area of the Amazon the size of Switzerland into a wasteland. Brazil's labour laws count for little in a country where the landowners are omnipotent "There's a culture of impunity," laments judge Leah Sarmento. "There are very rich and powerful people who expect to be able to buy anyone." She's received several death threats for prosecuting slave traders. "When the workers run up bills they can't pay, the Gatos, or labour foreman, come in and pay the bills. From that point on, he owns them," states anti slavery campaigner Henri des Rozier. But landowners deny that slavery exists and claim the allegations are invented by state subsidised European farmers.