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Celebration of 20 years of MAB highlights the victories of the affected populations

Upon arrival, a sign announced “Resettlement St. Francis of Assisi, a conquest of the Movement of People Affected by Dams”. It was in this resettlement, Esmeralda (state Rio Grande do Sul), that about 2,000 people amongst dam affected, officials and guests, celebrated the 20 years of existence at national level of MAB and 30 years of struggle of people affected by dams in the Uruguay river basin.

During the party, projects of the Agroecology and Sustainable Programme (PAIS), like an agro-food processing and a micro-distillery of alcohol, all achievements of the organization of movement, were inaugurated.

Said Cleonira de Almeida, a resident of resettlement, “We confronted a lot of struggles striving not to lose our land, because we knew that unless we fought, we would be thrown by the electricity companies into a corner without any rights. It feels very fine to celebrate on this spot marked as a history of conquest” and emphasized that this victory was part of the struggle of thousands of families who were involved in MAB.

These achievements which Cleonira refers, make part of the Regional Development Plan, whose claims have been defined during various seminars and meetings and then presented to federal and state governments and business owners of dams in the region.

“We fought for this land and for having conditions to generate income and add value to our production. We assessed many programs, including the Food Purchase Program, through which we deliver our production, and build a micro-distillery and agribusiness. These efforts enable the farmers to remain in the region. We want to export our experiences all over Brazil” said Cleonira.

Clovis Volnei Rodrigues settled with MAB in 1988 when the movement was called CRAB, the Regional Commission of Dam Affected People. Today he struggles in another region, Garibaldi in Santa Catarina, where a dam is constructed. “When they were talking a long time ago that Garibaldi would be built, the locals did not believe. Now they are building, the company is not recognizing the right of those affected. That is why we are residing there as MAB and organising the inhabitants, we know that this is the right way” said.

In the political act during the celebration, religious and government authorities, representatives of social movements and trade unions, expressed their support to the Movement. Humberto de Almeida, representative of the Foundation Bank of Brazil, a partner of MAB in the Agroecology and Sustainable Programme (PAIS), said that on December 23, the Foundation will sign a release for the construction of 200 PAIS, and in beginning of 2012, over 600 PAIS.

Minister Gilberto Carvalho, the Secretariat of the Presidency, sent a letter in affirming that the Federal Government “received an extensive list of demands, and that these will be the subject of negotiations and referrals.” Carvalho hopes that in 2012 “this dialogue will be consolidated in a structured policy of care for people affected by dams.”

Gilberto Cervinski, the national coordination of MAB, said MAB has established itself as a national movement granted for its strategy of action, but also based on partnerships and alliances. The Movement has great friends but also big enemies which MAB faced and faces bravely without ever having doubts on which side stands. “The achievements of MAB did not come from the negotiating tables but from the people struggling and fighting to guarantee their rights .

The celebration ended with a big barbecue, birthday cake and cultural presentations.