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The Human Rights Caravans that traveled throughout Rio Grande do Norte (a northeastern state in Brazil) between March and May of 2004, aimed to bring various tools for defending individual rights (as much civil and political as economic, social, cultural and environmental) to all the interior districts of the state. In this process the caravans were also able to bring requests and proposals that would help create the Sistema Nacional de Direitos Humanos (National System of Human Rights). Eight districts from the interior were reached by the caravans, including Macau, Parnamirim, Carnaubais, Caicó, Macaíba, Ceará Mirim, Pau dos Ferros and Mossoró. Additionally, two residential zones of Natal- the state capital, were visited by the caravans, Zona Norte (North Zone) and Zona Oeste (West Zone).
Each caravan adopted “glocal” action (global and local at the same time) through thematic meetings about diverse matters ranging from violence against women, agrarian politics, and the environment to racial discrimination and police brutality, among others. In these meetings, representatives from civil society, public officials, and the population of the communities themselves expressed their concerns about individual rights to representatives from state bodies such as the State Council on Human Rights, the Department of Human Rights to the Secretary of Justice, the Police Commissioner of Social Defense, the State Public Ministry, and the Women’s Forum of Rio Grande do Norte. For many of these officials, these meetings constituted their first visit to the respective regions. They discussed the existing problems, proposed solutions, and reached agreements that should have significant consequences.
Ultimately, the caravans met at the First Conference on Human Rights which included all the regions and communities reached. Here, the proposals were organized and set forth, as much those relating to the realities within the districts as those directed towards the construction of the National System of Human Rights.
The Caravans were financed and made possible by the Secretaria Especial de Direitos Humanos da Presedência da Republica do Brasil- SEDH (President Lula´s Special Secretary of Human Rights).