Profiting from slavery? Owner of former Brazilian plantation cashes in on tourism (VIDEO)
Santa Eufrasia was constructed around 1830 in the Coffee Valley and was purchased by Dolson’s family in 1895, by which time slavery had been abolished in Brazil.
In 1829, however, the premises were noted in a document where a local official, Eleuterio Delfim da Silva, criticized the cruelty with which slaves in the area were treated.
None of that dark history is played out in Dolson’s fancy-dress tours, however.
She was earlier reported to have hired Brazilians of African descent to pose as slaves and serve coffee during tours. Yet according to Dolson, some even alleged that she in fact had real slaves.
"Someone saw a movie filmed here, where I was showing the house and said I have slaves in the house, lots of lies," she said, as quoted by Ruptly news agency.
Angry comments also surfaced online.
“If there is no racism, why not put white maids in the clothes of the time? Why the term ‘mucama’”? one message reads under a promo video for the estate.
‘Mucama’ is the word Dolson repeatedly uses to describe her staff, a term rarely heard these days as it specifically refers to domestic slaves.
“Bizarre! This woman is sick,” “Racism of our day,” and “You have to put this old woman in the trunk and break this entire farm, since she is not going to be arrested for racism, as she should be,” others said.
In 1873 more than 70 percent of the population of nearby town of Valenca were slaves – some 27,000 people.
Dolson was reportedly later forced by local authorities to remove the mention of slavery from her advertising, and stop using Afro-Brazilian employees to portray slaves.
However, she denied any accusations of racism.
"The public ministry called me and went there many times, next May 2, I will go to them again, to sign an agreement saying that I am not going to do that, I cannot not use the word slave, the word slave is forbidden, and also slaves themselves," Dolson noted.
Hopeful about the future of the attraction, she said: “I will get a stamp that I will place here saying I have a farm without racism," according to Ruptly.
Dolson obtained the permission to restore the mansion in 2013. It is located on Brazil’s only private plantation protected by Rio de Janeiro’s Institute of National Historic and Artistic Patrimony.