International organizations from Europe and the United States met in the Legislative Assembly, last Wednesday (25), with the parliamentary working group that monitors the developments of the CPI in Brumadinho. The meeting, coordinated by the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), was attended by representatives of the International Progressive organization and the Washington Brazil Office. They discussed the violations of rights caused by the collapse of the B1 dam, in the Córrego do Feijão mine, belonging to Vale S/A, in January 2019.
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“We are receiving this commission of internationalists in Brazil, which has helped us to systematize and expand a set of violations of human rights, of peoples’ rights, which, in Minas Gerais, recognisably, have as their greatest expression this model of mining and crimes in the Rio Doce and Rio Paraopeba basins. The MST is organized in the two basins, we suffered the impacts of both crimes”, says MST coordinator Sílvio Neto.
At the table, deputy André Quintão (PT), who was rapporteur of the CPI of the Dam of Brumadinho, and deputy Beatriz Cerqueira (PT), a member of the Commission, discussed the main results of the investigations. After six months of investigation, more than 30 sessions, listening to 149 people and taking advantage of evidence collected by the Civil and Federal police, the CPI asked for the indictment of the then president of Vale, Fábio Schvartsman, of other 11 employees of the company and two of the consultant Tüv Süd, for crimes of aggravated homicide, bodily injury and destruction of flora and fauna, among others.
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André Quintão rescued the elements that allowed the conclusion that there was a crime in the dam’s rupture. In the year before the breakup, aware that B1 had liquefaction problems, which caused instability, the miner contracted Tuv Süd to issue a stability statement.
At the time, Tuv Süd and the Brazilian Potamos, a partner in the consultancy, found a safety factor lower than that recommended by international standards. Due to differences in methodology, Potamos abandoned the partnership and Tuv Süd alone attested to the stability of the work, which months later would break down. In any case, the company recommended to Vale a series of measures to reduce liquefaction, such as making drains.
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In June 2018, according to the CPI reporter, Vale noticed a rupture in the dam, which should have been communicated to the National Mining Agency (ANM), with the subsequent stoppage of operations at the Córrego do Feijão Mina complex. However, the company would have stopped the drainage works and communicated to the ANM a level of gravity lower than the real one. In addition, Vale continued to make explosions nearby.
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“On January 11, 2019, there was a very large movement of the massif, which the radar [instalado pela Vale] demonstrated. This was communicated and Vale did not take any action”, says André Quintao. For him, however, the conviction of the crime was only established when he studied Vale’s Emergency Action Plan, which led to the conclusion that, following Vale’s security guidelines, no human being in the vicinity, under any circumstances, would be able to escape walk from the tailings.
“And then, under the dam, there was a whole structure of office, healthcare and cafeteria, where hundreds of workers died. Who managed to escape was because they did not follow the escape route or because they jumped in a pickup truck and fled. But there were people who died 3 km away, in an inn. Also, the siren was not sounded. At the CPI, we found out that training for escape was not done with the siren”, says the deputy.
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“Mining companies have political power in our state. This power means that, in many municipalities, they advance in territories, such as in Carrancas and in Serro. This political power means that Vale is treated by the government as a partner, not a criminal, which has duties in relation to the crime it committed. Without popular participation, without monitoring and inspection by the Legislative Assembly, without listening to the people affected, the government of Minas signed an agreement with Vale that was ratified earlier this year”, criticizes Deputy Beatriz Cerqueira (PT).
The deputy stressed that the final amount to be paid by Vale in the agreement (R$37 billion) is lower than the amount due in the initial survey (R$54 billion). “And the most serious thing: most of the resources are under the control of Vale and the state government”, he says, noting that, to that end, Vale invested heavily in media campaigns.
The parliamentarian also recalls that an agreement in the Rio Doce basin, similar to the Paraopeba basin, is being prepared, referring to the crime of the Samarco dam (Vale and BHP) in the municipality of Mariana, in 2015. At the time, 60 millions of cubic meters of tailings had been dumped into the Rio Doce basin.
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“When you listen to people, the violation leads to serious health problems, which the mining companies refuse to recognize as a consequence of the dam failure. The violation of the right to access to water is scandalous, as the mining company delivers the water truck on the day it wants, at the time it wants, under the conditions it wants. The violation of rights in accessing emergency assistance as well”, he adds.
Finally, Beatriz points out that, in addition to impunity, mining companies are able to benefit from the crimes, taking control of affected territories. This has occurred in municipalities such as Barão de Cocais, Rio Preto, Nova Lima and Ouro Preto. “We saw the activation of evacuation plans, emergency removals of families, who did not have access to information, did not know for how long, did not know under what conditions. In practice, what the mining companies are achieving is to remove the people from the territories and, later, buy the territories”, he denounces.
At the end of the meeting, the deputies presented the full report of the CPI to international organizations. This same report had been delivered, in 2019, to the Public Ministry of Minas Gerais and to those affected.
The Progressive International emerged in 2018, at the initiative of organizations such as the Democracy Movement in Europe (Democracy in Europe Movement) it’s the Sanders Institute, in the United States. It currently has a board of more than 40 members from different countries.
“More than words, we are here in Minas to seek ways to raise these issues to the international level and develop ways to resolve these crises. Our purpose here is not just the solidarity of words, but also to understand better, to have solutions and transmit them to a wider network of our partners”, proposes David Adler, general coordinator of the Progressive International.
Source: BoF Minas Gerais
Edition: Elis Almeida