Bill establishing the Policy on the Rights of People Affected by Dams (Política de Direitos dos Atingidos por Barragens – PNAB) is due to be voted on next Tuesday 

 

For three days (from November 4 to 7), affected people from Espírito Santo gathered in Brasilia (DF) for the Jornada de Lutas: “É Tempo de Avançar: atingidos e atingidas na luta por direitos” (“It’s Time to Move Forward: Affected People in the Struggle for Rights”) with affected people from all over Brazil to put forward their demands and make claims for their rights to access fair and integral reparations before the courts. In addition to the national agendas, the people affected in Espírito Santo took the “People’s Theses/Demands” organized in documents developed by the Independent Technical Advisory Body (Assessoria Técnica Independente – ATI) for the Rio Doce Basin and the Northern Coast of Espírito Santo, a document based on the requests gathered in almost 10 months of work by the advisory bodies in the affected territories. This document was delivered directly by the hands of the affected peoples to representatives of the National Parliament.  

In addition to the delivery of the agendas, those affected celebrated the favorable approval of the PNAB last Tuesday (7), by the Infrastructure Commission (CI), of the bill that establishes the National Policy on the Rights of People Affected by Dams (PNAB). On the same day, the Federal Senate approved an urgent vote in plenary on the bill establishing the PNAB (PL 2788/2019). The bill is scheduled to be voted on next Tuesday (14).  

The Journey of Struggles was organized by the Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens – MAB) and was attended by around 2,600 people from all over the country. Regarding the first positive steps in relation to the PNAB during the day, Robson Formiga said: 

“This is a very important, historic achievement in the struggle of those affected. We remain optimistic and hopeful that the National Policy on the Rights of Affected People will also be approved in plenary,” said Robson Formiga, from MAB’s national coordination. 

During the Day of Struggles in Brasilia, political figures such as the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva, and Ministers Silvio Almeida, of Human Rights, Paulo Teixeira of the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Family Farming and Citizenship, and the chief minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, Márcio Macêdo, as well as deputy Célia Xakriaba, deputy Marcom and Helder Salomão, as well as Kelli Mafort and Michaela Calaça, from the General Secretariat, among other political figures and popular social movements from Via Campesina Brasil, where they joined forces in the Journey of Struggles of the Movement of People Affected by Dams. 

The Minister for Human Rights, Silvio Almeida, said that the struggle of those affected by dams should be a struggle for all the Brazilian people. “This is a fight for Brazil. It may seem that this is only an issue for those who have been affected, but in fact we are fighting so that Brazil can have a future. It’s a fight so that Brazil can have hope,” he concluded. 

The PNAB aims to ensure the rights of people affected by dams and promote socially sustainable practices in dam projects. The initiative also states that the entrepreneur will have to pay for a rights program for these citizens. To date, there is no legal framework to protect affected populations in the event of dam breaks, incidents, construction, planning and operation in Brazil, and this is the PNAB’s main recommendation in the Journey of Struggles of the Affected People. 

The day of struggle was fundamental to the process of denouncing the Fundão dam collapse in Mariana, which, on November 5, marked eight years since Brazil’s biggest socio-technological disaster, affecting thousands of lives to this day, where the companies responsible for the Samarco dam collapse (Vale/BHP) continue to profit from the pain, mourning and environmental, human, social, cultural and historical devastation. 

In this milestone of 8 years of injustice over the case, the affected people of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo have reinforced the need for a new agreement in the renegotiation of the Rio Doce case, stressing that it is only a renegotiation if there is popular participation. 

 

Image and text: Communication Collective – Adai