Press release from Caritas Minas Gerais, translated by London Mining Network

On the fifth anniversary of Brazil’s biggest socio-environmental crime, projections in several cities of the country and actions in social networks denounce the slowness of the reparation process for those affected by the collapse of the Fundão dam

After five years, Brazil’s largest socio-environmental crime involving mining dams continues to leave a trail of illness, insecurity, rights violations and disrespect for victims. The “sea of mud” released by the Fundão dam collapse on 5 November 2015 contained 43.8 million cubic metres of ore tailings, killed 19 people and left at least 1.9 million people affected along the Rio Doce basin, from Minas Gerais to the coast of Espírito Santo.

On the date the crime reaches its 5th anniversary, the Commission of Dam-Affected People of Fundão – Mariana (CABF) and Caritas Brazil in the Minas Gerais Region denounce the daily violation of rights by the two largest mining companies in the world, Brazil’s Vale and Anglo-Australian BHP (Samarco’s controlling companies). To this end, projections will be made in several cities and actions will be shared in social networks seeking to amplify the voices of those who still daily experience the continuing crime. Motivated by the question “Where were you on 5 November 2015?”, the screams of those affected by injustice will be echoed, despite numerous attempts to silence and distort the true social, economic and environmental impacts of this crime without precedent in the world.

“Even if they (Vale, Samarco, BHP and Renova) pay for everything we claim, even so, they will always be in debt to us,” says Mônica dos Santos, a member of the Comissão de Atingidos de Mariana (CABF) and one of those affected at Bento Rodrigues. The families affected by the disruption of the Fundão dam seem convinced that the constant attempt to prevent precedents from being generated in the reparation of the victims is a strategy of the companies. With so many resources and so much power, it was expected that the mining companies would seek to manoeuvre cunningly in the process of reparation, but what is seen are expensive advertisements transmitting untruths on prime-time TV and the availability of resources for the Renova Foundation, an organization created by these companies to “manage” the process of reparation but almost completely ineffective in responding to those who really matter: the people affected.

With the slogan “O CRIME SE RENOVA” (the crime renews itself), the slowness of the trial is evident and the demand is that “the victims no longer be seen as the criminals”, in the words of Marino D’Ângelo Júnior, a member of CABF and an affected person from Paracatu de Cima. However, it is also necessary to denounce the fact that the crime is being renewed not only in Mariana and in the Rio Doce basin, but with the predatory model of mining, which allows this situation to continue, as in the recidivism of the mining company Vale with the dam collapse in Brumadinho, which murdered 272 people in 2019, or in the removals in Antônio Pereira, in the municipality of Ouro Preto, in Barão de Cocais and many others, showing that profit is worth more than life.

What: Virtual projections and actions of the 5 years of the Fundão dam collapse in Mariana (MG)
When: 5 November 2020
Where: Several cities in the country and social networks
Contact: Lívia Bacelete, Communications Advisor, Caritas Minas Gerais, (31) 98876-4767
Attached photo credits: Marcela Nicolas (@marcelanicolass) and Guilherme Frodu (@guifrodu) / Cáritas MG

Mônica dos Santos
Bento Rodrigues

Photo credits: Marcela Nicolas (@marcelanicolass) and Guilherme Frodu (@guifrodu) / Cáritas MG