People Affected by Dams occupy São Francisco Hydroelectric Company in Recife
About 1,500 members of the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) occupied the morning of Tuesday 13th of March the headquarters of the São Francisco Hydroelectric Company (CHESF) in […]
About 1,500 members of the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) occupied the morning of Tuesday 13th of March the headquarters of the São Francisco Hydroelectric Company (CHESF) in the city of Recife (state of Pernambuco). They demonstrate against the current Brazilian energy model, against attempts to privatise water and energy and they demand the guarantee of the rights for families affected by dams. The mobilisation is part of the national day of struggle of the MAB and happens during the week of the International Day of struggle against dams, for rivers, water and life.
More than 90% of the electricity generated in Brazil comes from hydro power. Said Joseph Josivaldo, national leader of the MAB, “the Brazilian energy model transforms water and energy into commodities, focused on large electricity intensive corporations and does not strengthen the national sovereignty.” In this scenario, the construction of dams in Brazil has left a trail of violence and crimes against families in rural and urban areas and against the natural environment. In the basin of São Francisco, it is estimated that more than 200,000 families have been affected and displaced from their lands for the construction of dams.
The Brazilian state has the task to plan and coordinate all energy policy and finances up to 80% of works with public funds from the National Bank of Development (BNDES). On the other hand “there is no state policy for those affected by dams. It is the level of local social organisation that will defend of the rights to the families”said Josivaldo. For MAB, the demonstrations are being held in state enterprises in the electricity sector to make clear that it is the responsibility of the Brazilian state to create a policy of compensation for people affected by dams, as it is also the state who plans, licenses and finances dams. Therefore, a key demand of the Movement is the creation of an appropriate policy of compensation by the Federal Government for the loss of the affected population, defining rules and criteria in social treatment.
During the Journey, MAB also claims that the Government should act in favour of the renewal of concessions in the electricity sector which expire from 2015 on. According to MAB, the renewal of concessions is a way to prevent further privatisation of power plants, transmission lines and electricity distribution. If the Government does not choose to renew their leases, the process for new bids will start what represents a threat of privatisation of the sector.
It is a joint struggle involving all social organisations emphases MAB. According to official figures, Brazil has the fifth highest rate of energy in the world. “It is the working class that pays the bill” says the leader of MAB. MAB demonstrate solidarity with the electric workers who increasingly are losing their rights and suffer a drop in wages because of outsourcing.
Organisations of Via Campesina, such as CPT and MST, and other urban sectors are involved and support the mobilisation, such as the Union of Urban Workers and the Popular Assembly of Pernambuco. Demonstrations during the National Day of Struggle are being held in various cities, such as Altamira, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Porto Velho, Belém and Florianópolis.