Consortium ESBR criminalize the people affected by the Jirau dam in Rondônia

In absence of a direct channel of dialogue with the companies responsible for the construction of the Jirau dam in the state of Rondonia, the affected people held a demonstration. At dawn of 26/10/2010, […]

In absence of a direct channel of dialogue with the companies responsible for the construction of the Jirau dam in the state of Rondonia, the affected people held a demonstration. At dawn of 26/10/2010, 150 demonstrators, including indigenous people, riverside and miners, blocked the access to the power plant construction site, near the highway BR 364. Only after 40 hours, the protesters allowed the release of the transit. The families remained for 10 days until the representatives of the company started a negotiation process on 5/11/2010, establishing a schedule of meetings to discuss the list of demands.

In August 2011, at least three protesters were summoned to appear before the Superintendent of Federal Police in Porto Velho, “to provide clarification in the interest of justice”, referring to Police Inquiry No. 711/2010 – SR / DPF / RO. Only after this intimidation, they were aware of the existence of an inquiry, whose content is related to the demonstration held in October 2010.

One of those is Mrs. Norma Fonseca de Souza, 31, former resident of the district Mutum Paraná, who was relocated to New Mutum Parana, where she now lives in a house with her parents and keeps working for the public health service. She testified at the Superintendency on 24/08/2011, answering questions about her participation in the demonstration. At the time, Mrs. Norma was not accompanied by a lawyer. Questioning the motive of the inquiry, Norma received as answer that she was one of the leaders of the former demonstration that would have generated losses in excess of $ 1 million of the consortium of Plant Jirau.

At the Madeira River two hydroelectric power plants are in an advanced construction process: Santo Antônio and UHE Jirau. These projects are included in the national state Growth Acceleration Plan (PAC I) and received R$ 13.3 billion funding from the National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDAES) plus grants of Sudam (R$ 503 million) and the Fund FGTS Investment (R$ 1.5 billion).

The Jirau Power Plant is located at a distance of 135 km of Rondonias capital Porto Velho, and according to the initial project would have a generating capacity of 3,300 MW of power. The plant is being built by the consortium Sustainable Energy SA of Brazil, formed by the companies GDF Suez (50,1%), Eletrosul (20%), Chesf (20%), Camargo Correa Investment in Infrastructure (9,9%).

The prospect of net income (profit) in the leasing period of 30 years is R$ 42 billion. Recently (27/09/2011), the consortium has won approval from ANEEL for the installation of four turbines, increasing its potential for generating 3,750 MW and by this increasing its profit margin.

The implementation process of the plant is marked by a set of facts that shows the failure of environmental law, labour and human rights abuses of construction workers and affected populations.

There are several facts that illustrate and demonstrate how companies treat and violate human rights and environmental issues.

On environmental issues, the consortium was granted permission to change the plant’s main axis at a distance of nine kilometers and permission to add four new turbines without the legal requirement to carry out new environmental impact studies and public hearings for the presentation of these changes.

The revolt of the workers of the plant, held in March this year, has generated international attention. The increased intensity of work, the practice of working hours in excess of 10 hours a day, the brutality and violence of the Camargo Corrêa Asset Security and breach of collective agreements were relevant factors and constituents of the revolt. In the plant, the Regional Superintendent of Labor and Employment in the State of Rondônia (SRTE / RO) has hewn more than a thousand fines for noncompliance with labor laws. With the suspended works, many of the workers were sent by the consortium to their places of origin. Soon after, Camargo Correa made the dismissal of 6,000 workers. Claiming “job abandonment” many workers were fired for cause.

In the old district Mutum Paraná, located on the banks of the Rio Mutum, lived more than 400 families, made up primarily of fishermen, riverside, pickers and farmers. The district was abolished by the construction but only 125 families were transferred to an urban area, called New Mutum Paraná.

What the consortium called a Collective Urban Resettlement is in reality a planned city, where were built more than 1,600 prefabricated houses (home plate) to accommodate the technicians and engineers working inthe consortium.

In New Mutum Paraná families were forced to completely change their way of life, because the city does not offer direct access to their main sources of livelihood and income, land, river and natural assets. This process of dispossession, marked by intensive degradation and socio-cultural breakdown, causes a striking deterioration in quality of life. Disheartened and without prospects, about 40 families have left the site, selling or renting their homes and moved to rural areas located within 10 km of New Mutum Paraná.

According to local media reports, we note the presence of the former Army Colonel attached to ABIN, Geli Fregapani in areas near UHE Jirau. Hired to lead the security service of the consortium, he infiltrates the affected population and workers of the plant in order to gather information and to disrupt and prevent any process of organisation and / or social mobilisation to confront the actions of the Consortium.

Based on Federal Legislation and the indications in the report of the Special Council for the Defense of Human Rights (CDDPH), we affirm the rights of affected populations are being violated.

The right to free expression is in the foundation of the Federal Constitution of 1988 – Citizen Constitution – which guarantees the free expression of thought (art. 5, IV CF), as well as meeting and assured everyone gather peacefully, without weapons, in places open to the public, regardless of authorization “(Article 5, XVI CF).

The occupation of access roads to the building site occured without any violence and did not cause damage, which shows that the charge of the consortium is false and should been seen as part of a process of criminalization and persecution of people who fight for guarantee their rights. That these rights are being violated daily in Jirau and San Antonio are not fenced in or on Judiciary and the Local Authorities.

Following the CDDPH report and the Rapporteur of the Platform DhESCA, the two construction sites are infringing the rights of various populations, such as omission and refusal to provide reliable information to those affected, lack of legal advice, insecurity, lack of environmental studies, lack of opportunity for effective participation, limited and restrictive definition of the concept of affected people, omission of socioeconomic and cultural specifications, failure on the particular needs of vulnerable social groups, particularly in situations of sudden social changes.

Faced with such violation, who needs to answer for breaking the law? The target population that occupied the streets to show the violations they are suffering, exercising their constitutional right to free expression or the consortium that violates the rights of the local population every day  as well as that of the workers, injuring one of the fundamental goals of the Brazilian Republic the building of a free society, justice and solidarity (art. 3, I, CF) and aims to eradicate poverty and marginalization, as well as reducing social inequalities (art. 3, III, CF).

That is why whe request:

1. A special mission in Rondonia by CDDPH to ascertain the situation of those affected in both plants and complaints of violations;

2. That the Federal Government, through the responsible agencies, has an immediate role in defending the right to freedom of expression, of movement, as well as the treatment to repair the economic losses, the social and cultural rights of people affected by dams;

3. The intervention of the organs of defense of human rights in this process to promote actions aimed at the immediate termination of all processes against leaders in Rondônia and punish companies and officials. And that is treated with great agility to criminalise the case of Mrs. Norma Fonseca de Souza, for her civil rights to bee respected.


Water and energy are not commodities!

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