The Pico do Ibituruna, the Rio Doce and the people affected witnessed the organizational unity that guides a renegotiation with popular participation.


On August 31st, Governador Valadares gained a river of people. The People Affected from the River to the Sea marched in search of their rights, for fair compensation, now!  One of the slogans that echoed during the march and that represents the people’s persistence almost eight years after the disaster: “The struggle continues, the people are on the streets!” 


Affected people from the entire Rio Doce basin and the coast of Espírito Santo in the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo, demanded a renegotiation with popular participation and justice for all those affected by the mud from Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton with the collapse of the Fundão Dam.   


In this act of struggle, hope and unity, more than 3,000 people, organized in the Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens – MAB), joined together in the daring search for fair reparations, with the support of civil society not affected, social movements, institutions and popular organizations.    


For Heider Boza, MAB coordinator in the state of Espírito Santo, the renegotiation represents more than just a time to negotiate agendas: “This is a historic moment in which the people need to be heard, a renegotiation without the people doesn’t serve the people. That’s why we’re marching and demanding our rights”. Scored, Heider. 


During the march, there was also a space to listen to and receive the agendas and demands of the people affected by representations linked to the Legislative and Judiciary powers, at federal and state level, from the Deputy Attorney General of the Union Junior Fideles, Kelli Mafort from the General Secretariat of the Presidency and Carolina Morishita from the Public Defender’s Office of Minas Gerais.   


At the time of delivering a letter containing the demands of those affected to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the people reaffirmed that a fair renegotiation can only be achieved with popular participation. Junior Fideles and Kélli Mafort, representing federal government agencies, pledged to be a bridge with this river of people and let the agendas flow to the responsible bodies. “The letter will reach President Lula and we will be the voice of this struggle.” Fideles said. 


Kelly Maforte said: “This is a historic moment, because what sets it apart from other moments is that this time, all the federal government’s efforts go towards guaranteeing social participation in the renegotiation. It’s been almost eight years since the crime and we know that time will never go back. Many lives and stories have been lost, and a lot of economic and environmental damage has accumulated. The people still suffer today from the lack of fair reparations, but we are here, pledging our commitment to help rewrite this history.” She was representing the General Secretariat of the Presidency in the “Walk for fair compensation now!”


On this day, the Pico do Ibituruna, the Rio Doce and the people affected witnessed the organizational unity that guides a renegotiation with popular participation. A river is a lot of people, an environment and biodiversity. And with this symbolism of hope for the new times after almost 8 years of the disaster that continues to devastate the Rio Doce basin and the coast of Espírito Santo, the cry “From the river to the sea, they won’t shut us up!” echoed. 


We, who are part of Adai’s Technical Advisory Body for the Affected, were there at this historic moment, responding to the request of the communities in the territories where we are present, and we reaffirm that the Rio Doce renegotiation is a historic opportunity to guarantee the rights of those affected, as well as the history and clamor for justice throughout Brazil in relation to the companies responsible for the disaster.   


From the River to the Sea: Our rights, now!