Vale imposes different criteria to support for emergency aid for members of the same family

In the rural settlement affected by the crime in Brumadinho, located in Pompéu (state of Minas Gerais), the mining company randomly defines which family members are entitled to the mitigation […]

In the rural settlement affected by the crime in Brumadinho, located in Pompéu (state of Minas Gerais), the mining company randomly defines which family members are entitled to the mitigation measure.

Text and photos by Guilherme Weimann, in Pompéu, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Soon after the tailings dam burst at the Córrego do Feijão Complex, in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, one of the measures that the mining company Vale SA agreed to repair reached along the Paraopeba Basin with emergency aid – a minimum wage for adults, 50% for adolescents and 25% for children. However, this right is not guaranteed for everyone who had their lives changed drastically after the tragedy.

Alexandro Magela de Oliveira, 37, is a resident of the Queima Fogo Settlement, in the rural area of the municipality of Pompéu, which is bathed by the Paraopeba River. A family farmer, Alexandro produces about 160 liters of milk per day. Before the dam burst, he completed his family income by selling cheese, eggs and other products derived from his production to tourists and owners of holiday farms. With the dam burst, tourism has been interrupted, so his source of income too.

The family’s herd started to depend on water offered by Vale through water trucks that, weekly, unload in the community. This is, the only “subsidy” that the victim has received to date from the mining company. The same situation occurs with his two daughters, Alexandra de Oliveira (9) and Giovana de Oliveira (7), who were also not covered by the emergency aid mitigation measure.
However, Alexandro’s wife, who lives under the same roof as her husband and daughters, receives the support. Tatiane de Menezes de Oliveira, 30, is one of the 108 thousand people contemplated monthly by the measure since the dam burst.

According to Alexandro, the disparity only shows the lack of criteria of the mining company in offering the service. “I see it in a negative way, because only my wife receives it. We all have the right. Not only me, but my girls. In my family, there is my nephew who did not receive and is affected as well. Many people in the community did not receive nothing “, reports. The farmer was not informed by Vale about the reasons of this situation. 

A similar case occurs in the family Leandro Magela de Oliveira, 42, Alexandro’s cousin. His property, located within the same settlement, borders the Rio Paraopeba 300 meters. Also a milk producer, Leandro used before the dam burst let his 42 cattle free to drink water from the river. Despite this, the mining company denied the right to aid for its son, Marcos Leandro Gonçalves Oliveira, 13 years old.

“I had to get the cattle out of there, now, I’m paying rent from other lands to be able to graze. I received help, my wife did, but my son they haven’t paid yet, I don’t know why. All the documentation they asked for I presented “, says Leandro.

Decrease in emergency aid

In addition to the cases of denial of emergency law, starting on January 25th of this year, when the rupture of the dam in Brumadinho completes one year, Vale will cut in half the amount of emergency aid for those affected who do not live in the so-called “hot zone “- an area that includes the communities of Córrego do Feijão, Parque da Cachoeira, Alberto Flores, Cantagalo, Pires.
Between 93 and 98 thousand people living in other places along the Paraopeba River will have their benefits divided in half for another ten months. As a result, adults will receive only 50%, teenagers 25% and children 12.5% of the minimum wage. It is important to remember that the income of a large part of the affected population has not yet returned to the same values of the period before the rupture.

Concern about water costs

In addition to indignation over Vale’s refusal to deposit emergency aid to his son, Leandro de Oliveira is concerned about the possible costs of water that Vale has committed to bringing to affected properties through a pipeline. The source would be two artesian wells that are within the settlement itself.

“Vale keeps saying it will bring piped water, but what about the cost of that water? The people on the river’s edge had free water. Someone who is outside may think that Vale is doing something, but actually we had no cost with water. We could take swim and fish, but this is all over “, laments the farmer.

This is also one of the concerns of Erliete Rocha de Campos, 45, a resident of the settlement. “We had the proposal to irrigate a garden, but then this break came and there was no way to do that anymore. The garden would be a way to feed the cattle. Now we are receiving water from the water trucks and we do not know what will be the costs going forward “.

The farmer lives with nine more relatives – husband, children and grandchildren. In depression, and responsible for one of her child who has tumors in both ears and need to put a prosthesis in her spine, Erliete is sad for the river, which has been part of her whole life: The river was for me a therapy, where I used to discharge my problems and now I can’t do that anymore”.

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| Publicado 21/12/2023 por Coletivo de Comunicação MAB PI

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