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Affected by dams held III State Meeting held in Minas Gerais

About 150 affected by dams held between 12 and 15 December in the city of Betim the Third Meeting of the  Movement of People Affected by Dams in Minas Gerais. On the agenda, the evaluation of the activities undertaken in 2011, the planning for the next year and a big party for 20 years of struggles and achievements.

A widely studied topic in the meeting was the process of constitution in every state of thousands of grassroots groups (GBs) coordinated by one man, one woman and a youngster. The coordinatores have the task of improving the participation and creativity.

The debate found that only with the expansion and qualification of its base MAB advances in defending the rights of those affected and in the construction of an Energy Project. The attendees discussed and presented several proposals to advance the training of grassroots groups in all regions, particularly by encouraging the role of women in this process.

The progress during the meetings with the federal government was also a topic. For that, a round table with representatives of federal agencies and ministries was held. Representatives of the Ministry of Agrarian Development (MDA), National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) and the General Secretariat of the Presidency attended.

The people affected by dams showed frustration with the pace of the negotiations. Although some progress has been made with the creation of working groups on the payment of historical debt of affected people and wiht the construction of channels to increase popular participation in defining the country’s energy policy, few concrete achievements have been realized on fundamental issues like the lack of access to programs such as Food Purchase Program (PAA) and the delay of the survey of land for the resettlement of those affected.

There were also questions about the government’s position in relation to the impacts of monoculture eucalyptus plantations, mining and construction of pipelines that cause the same systematic violations of human rights in the report of the Committee to Defend the Rights of the Person (CDDPH) on construction of dams in Brazil.

Government officials showed what  the organs in which they work are doing to solve the problems of those affected and were willing to take complaints and proposals for routing within the agenda. Adilson Carvalho, the Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, listed a series of measures taken since the beginning of the negotiations considered as important steps and emphased that the measures only will be put in action through the pressure of the movement. “If you do not go, do not slam the door, not pressure, the government does not react,” he said. Joceli Andrioli, the national coordination of MAB, made clear that only the definition of a national policy to those affected and the creation of a public fund to finance the payment of the historical debt will be considered as concrete progress and that the mobilization for the achievement of these rights will continue in 2012.

With the presence of various groups, movements and partners like Sindieletro (CEMIG electricians’ trade union), the Consulta Popular, the MST, the MOHAN (Movement for the Reintegration of People Affected by Leprosy), among others, MAB celebrated his 20 years with a birthday cake and a lively performance by the singer Vale Rubens.

For Thiago Alves, a member of the coordination state, evaluated the meeting as positive considering the many exchanges of experiences between regions and a clear planning, knowing what to do and when and the political meaning of each activity. “Those affected have a big party and will return home aware of the many challenges for the coming years, the importance of each one to advance in the struggle and excited to strengthen the movement throughout the state of Minas Gerais”, he said.