On the afternoon of July 22, 2022, we, the elected Independent Technical Advisory bodies (Assessoria Técnica Independente eleitas) – ADAI (Interstate Agricultural Development Association), AEDAS (State Association for Environmental and Social Defense), CAT (Tamanduá Agroecological Center), Cáritas Diocesana de Itabira and Cáritas Diocesana de Governador Valadares, we met with the new judge in the Samarco case, the Hon. Mr. Dr. Michael Procópio Alves Avelar, at the 12th Federal Agrarian Court of Belo Horizonte.

Important topics were discussed with His Honor, including: the history of the participatory choices of the entities elected to provide technical advice in the Doce River basin, the negotiation process for contracting the ATIs between 2018 and 2019, the agreements signed at the time – TAP, TAP Amendment and TAC Governance – as well as the agreements signed between the ATIs and the Doce River basin. as well as the subsequent enactment of the State Policy for People Affected by Dams (Política Estadual de Atingidos por Barragens – PEAB) and the demands of the Minas Gerais State Legislative Assembly for the right of those affected to Independent Technical Advice to be made effective.

In addition, we addressed the concerns of the entities chosen by the communities to carry out an Independent Technical Advisory service with a reduced scope, according to the conditions set by the companies.

Our entities were chosen between October 2018 and February 2019 by all the affected communities of the Rio Doce Basin and the Espírito Santo coast, in the 18 territories, in the process organized by the Brazil Human Rights Fund, an expert of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office on the subject of social participation. The selection process included numerous meetings, assemblies and the participation of more than 3,000 affected people in the selection assemblies, all accompanied by the Rio Doce Task Force (Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office – MPF, Minas Gerais Public Prosecutor’s Office – MPMG, Espírito Santo Public Prosecutor’s Office – MPES, Federal Public Defender’s Office – DPU, Espírito Santo Public Defender’s Office – DPES, Minas Gerais Public Defender’s Office – DPMG).

In September 2019, the entities elected by the affected communities in the Rio Doce basin were ratified, but since then, negotiations have not progressed with the companies, and the case went to court in January 2020.

After the judicialization, and with the Covid-19 pandemic, the entities, prevented from debating with the communities, saw their Work Plans built with social participation fall apart. The reduction in scope, the impediment to collecting primary data, the reduction in teams and even the questioning of the need for consultants for the coast of Espírito Santo are some of the issues that have been raised.

With the technical and cooperative stance of the new judge in the case, we optimistically hope that this time the most important thing will be put at the forefront: the guarantee of the full right to full reparation, with the effective informed participation of the people and communities affected.

The River Still Runs. The people are still fighting!