Two years of Vale’s crime in Brumadinho: the MAB denounces agreement without participation of those affected

The company advertises that it is solving the problems of those affected, when in fact it is gaining time to undermine the people’s fighting capacity and get Brumadinho out of the news.

Vale’s only objective is profit over life. In the Brumadinho region, the company acts to not pay for its crimes at any cost and wants to avoid further expenses in repairing rights violated. At the same time, it wants to continue exploring the ore in Minas Gerais, sending it outside the country without paying the minimum amount of taxes.

To achieve these goals, Vale uses several strategies, from the capture of governments, parliamentarians, judiciary, government agencies and other institutional legal structures even to disorganize the population and weaken its fighting capacity through the cooptation of the affected, popular leaders, and even the constant dissemination of fake news.

There is also an ideological communication strategy, with advertisements to society and shareholders to hide the reality of the people and circumvent the real facts. The company advertises that it is solving the problems of those affected, when in fact it is gaining time to undermine the people’s fighting capacity and get Brumadinho out of the news.

In practice, what Vale is doing is, through its economic strength, politically and ideologically control to dominate the territory and continue to guarantee high profits for the financial system, for bankers and international investment funds – their current owners.

The population of the Paraopeba River basin and the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) were surprised on October 22, 2020, in the dead of night, with the news that the company Vale SA, the Government of the state of Minas Gerais and Justice institutions were carrying out a major clandestine agreement that decided the future of indemnities and the lives of those affected in the region.

The agreement is a scandal, because it decides on the reparatipon process resulting from the rupture of the Córrego do Feijão dam in Brumadinho in an unreasonable manner, without the participation of those affected and protected by secrecy by  decision of judges and prosecutors.

The global agreement involves Vale, the government of Minas Gerais, Public Defender and Prosecution Offices as well as the Federal Attorney General. Initially, it predicted a lawsuit in the total amount of R$ 54 billion, corresponding to two actions: one of 26 billion (corresponding to the economic damage suffered by the state) and another of 28 billion corresponding to collective moral and social damage (community).

The company Vale proposed the total payment of R$ 21 billion, being a “global ceiling” of payments of R$ 16.45 billion – which would include the execution of constructions  in Belo Horizonte, 60 kilometers from Brumadinho, R$ 3 billion expected for the environmental recovery, besides the R$ 2.2 billion already spent on indemnities for the approximately 8 thousand affected people. A billionaire parcel would also be distributed to the judiciary for them to coordinate actions in the so-called “third sector”.

This proposal from the company proposed a cut to less than half of the total value of the two lawsuits. The concrete fact is that the agreement does not allow the effective participation of those affected in the negotiations, nor in making decisions about the rights of the affected. In other words, the victims remain excluded, while the masters of power want to profit from the crime and the lives of thousands of people affected by Vale’s crime.

Those affected claim that discussions about repairing damages do not address emergency issues (emergency payment, water supply, indemnities, among others) which would guarantee living conditions until full reparation. The affected are not against the agreement, but, when it comes to the life of the people, they must be the protagonists in any agreement that deals with the future of their lives and the definition of a fair value in the reparation of damages, this must be a guaranteed right – to be able to participate in the decisions.

The agreement is a play by this criminal company, by putting the possibility for a financially bankrupt state to raise a few billion ” in name of those affected”, which represent a few months of the company’s net profit, in exchange for the total acquittal of the liability due to their own incompetence in managing the Córrego da Mina do Feijão dam in Brumadinho. This way, the company is no longer responsible for the reparation of the victims’ rights, passing the responsibility on to the State.

It can be noticed that justice has not been showing itself to be an effective instrument for the full reparation of damages, access to justice and that it does not guarantee the rights of the victims. The Judiciary knows little about the cases and the real and urgent needs of those affected in the localities. Additionally, mining companies have an enormous legal apparatus through their numerous law firms.

This leads to a strong legal incision in appealing the decisions, which allows the postponement of definitive determinations to privilege those who have the best conditions, in this case, the companies. This way, this leads to a delay in reparation for both the environment and the victims, as it overburdens them with a very long procedural period.

As in the Rio Doce basin, again an agreement was built without the participation of the affected population, under the pretext that conciliation is the best and quickest way to solve the process. However, we denounce that the speed here only serves the objectives of the government of the state of Minas Gerais and of Vale company, without guaranteeing the rights of those affected, especially the right to participation.

Translation: Mayara Herrero

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