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Human rights

The history of MAB was formed from the denial of a series of rights to the affected populations – who already came from a more humble, peasant condition, with difficulty accessing the justice system. According to the report by the National Human Rights Council, in the construction and operation of dams in Brazil, at least 16 rights are systematically violated.

Therefore, throughout its trajectory, the movement affirmed the need to fight for the realization of the human rights of the affected populations, thus configuring a flag of struggle. Over the years, those affected started to claim the identity of human rights defenders, as they began to take ownership of the structures denied access to rights and act in concrete reality by changing the direction of conflicts. It was only through the struggles waged by those affected that rights such as: resettlement, compensation, emergency aid payments, and equivalent treatment for men and women were implemented.

The set of human rights as an emancipatory perspective for the affected people is still a challenge, especially given the scenario of setbacks in the country, but, every day, with the work of training and popular education, we are advancing in the frontiers of language and in appropriating new spaces. Fighting for land, water, energy, wealth distribution, is defending a more just and egalitarian country project. We understand the importance of a state that effectively resolves conflicts that give rise to inequality in law, and consequently, the denial of human rights.


Our understanding is that the central issue in this topic is energy policy, which transformed energy into a commodity to guarantee extraordinary profitability for capital. We are advocates that “water and energy are not commodities”. We fight for a popular energy project.

We want the use of water and energy resources with sovereignty, distribution of wealth and popular control – this is the synthesis of the energy policy project we defend. Until the early 1990s, the national electricity sector was state owned under a monopoly regime, with a single state company producing, transporting and distributing energy. After this period, public services were transferred to private ownership through a wave of privatizations. The new electricity policy, under neoliberalism, became guided by market rules.

The Brazilian territory has one of the largest water potentials in the world, so we generate our electrical energy via hydroelectric plants, a source with extremely cheap production costs. Even so, Brazil is among the 10 countries that pay the most expensive energy tariffs. Our knowledge of this reality reveals that our struggle cannot be reduced simply to changing the technological matrix and choosing the best source of renewable generation. Resistance to capital projects is enormously important.


MAB understands that water is a necessity, a fundamental human right and therefore cannot be commodified or become a commodity. Brazil has the largest freshwater reserves in the world, and we still have a favorable reality, where 90% of households that are connected to the water supply network are under state responsibility, only 10% in the hands of the private sector.

This reality is part of a profound attack by transnational companies, which intend to transform the people’s right to public water supply and sewage collection into a commodity, to enable the extraction of extraordinary profit rates, applying the same model as the Brazilian electricity sector. . They intend to divide the water and sanitation system, which is carried out by one company into several “businesses”, owned by several companies, which can increase water tariffs by more than 200%.

In the countryside, the situation is also dramatic, every year conflicts and disputes over access to this good increase, on one side the peasants who produce 70% of the Brazilian population’s food and on the other side the agribusiness that exports practically all of its production and consumes 80% of Brazilian water, drying out our rivers and aquifers, using violence against the people through the power of militias, walls and fences, legitimized by usage concessions, given by the State to guarantee the profit of this sector.

We fight against violence in the countryside and human rights violations because we believe that “waters are for life and not for death”. It is necessary to face and defeat all processes and attempts to privatize water, and reverse the processes that have already been privatized, which is why we affirm that “water and energy are not commodities” but are for the sovereignty of the Brazilian people.


The construction of dams in national territory has repeatedly led to serious violations of human rights, the consequences of which end up accentuating the already serious social inequalities, resulting in situations of misery and disruption social, family and individual of the affected populations.

Its consequences Negatives arise from a national planning policy, implementation and operation of dams for electricity generation, water supply, accumulation of industrial waste and for multiple uses.

Dams cause important social, environmental, economic and cultural impacts across a vast territory and produces hundreds of thousands of affected populations.

The intensity, severity and extent of these impacts vary from case to case, depending on the diversity regional, diversity of situations (large, medium and small dams), temporal differences (old, recent and under construction dams); nature of reservoirs (water, industrial waste, energy), nature of owners and those responsible for the construction or operation of dams (state, mixed and private companies – national and international); goals of dams (hydroelectric generation, water supply, mining tailings).

According to the 2018 Dam Safety Report (ANA, 2019) there are 17,604 dams registered with the 32 supervisory bodies (municipal, state and national). To date, 5,086 have been classified by Risk Category and 6,577 for Associated Potential Damage, of which 909 are classified simultaneously as Risk Category and Potential Damage Senior associates.

Reality that shows that Brazil has a large number of dams and the magnitude of the negative impacts is relevant, and are due to the lack of safety in dams and the pattern of violation of the rights of those affected.


In these times of economic and climate crisis, the Amazon is increasingly seen as a front for expansion by capital. The ongoing attacks put biodiversity and people’s lives at risk. The looting of natural resources, deforestation and fires, as well as the increasing privatization of water, can cause irreversible consequences for the entire planet.

There is a model that reinforces the Amazon’s position as a semi-colony of mineral and energy resources and reaffirms its status as an agricultural “frontier” and corridor for the export of commodities. This model has proven to be good for a few “entrepreneurs”, especially transnational companies from central countries. But for the people, it brought practically no benefits. On the contrary: misery and violence increased. And it is this perspective that has been strengthened by the federal government’s policies at the present time.

On the other hand, it is possible to build a development model for the Amazon that puts life first, prioritizing the distribution of wealth and its development without the destruction of nature and the use of strategic resources for the general improvement of living conditions in the Amazon. population whether in cities, flooded areas, in the crossroads or on the banks of rivers. This is the model we dream of building for the present and the future. If the Amazon is at risk, we are all affected!

Our fight is international

More than 800,000 dams have already been built on the planet, their reservoirs have flooded around 1 million square meters (1% of the planet’s surface). At the same time, the number of people displaced by dams in the last 20 years is estimated at more than 40 million people. Many are indigenous and tribal populations.

In all cases, the same consequences occur over time: degradation of forests, drastic reduction in fishing, emission of gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect and global warming, risks of earthquakes, climate change, death of water courses. ‘water.

Not to mention, the indebtedness of the economies of poor nations like Brazil due to gigantic loans for the construction of these huge and very expensive projects.

For these reasons, MAB’s commitment and fundamental value of the fight is internationalism and the relationship with the different experiences of the fight against dams in the world, through international meetings of those affected, and in Latin America in particular through the Movement of Affected by Dams (MAR).