Five years ago, on January 25, 2019, Brazil witnessed its second devastating mine dam collapse in the space of four years. The Brumadinho dam disaster left an indelible mark on the landscape of Minas Gerais and on our collective consciousness, reminding us of the urgent need for accountability and a renewed commitment to protecting our planet and its inhabitants. As we commemorate the fifth anniversary of this tragic event, it is crucial to reflect on the progress made, the challenges faced, and the continued call for justice.

The Brumadinho Dam Disaster:
When a tailings dam operated by mining giant Vale S.A. collapsed in the town of Brumadinho, a torrent of toxic mud was released that engulfed everything in its path. The consequences were catastrophic – 270 people lost their lives, entire communities were displaced, and the environment was irreversibly damaged. The human and environmental toll of the disaster highlighted the need for stricter regulations, corporate accountability, and a commitment to preventing such tragedies in the future. In the years since, there have been efforts to hold those responsible accountable. Legal actions, investigations, and demands for compensation have been ongoing. However, the journey towards justice has been challenging – legal complexities, corporate resistance, and the slow pace of accountability mechanisms have all acted as delays. While at least 18 of Vale’s other dams in Brazil have failed to meet safety standards, no criminal prosecutions have taken place. Vale continues to operate and profit in Brazil while its dams continue to be an immense threat to the lives, livelihoods and environments of all those around.

poster for the march marking the fifth anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster and calling for new regulations.

Renewed Commitment to Human Rights and the Environment:
As we mark the fifth anniversary of the Brumadinho dam disaster, we recommit ourselves to the principles of human rights and environmental protection. It is essential for people to work collaboratively to push for strengthened regulations and accountability, and to promote sustainable practices. The tragedy in Brumadinho serves as a stark reminder that the pursuit of profit must not come at the expense of human lives and the well-being of our planet.

In Brazil, this anniversary is being marked by two days of action. In tandem with commemorating the Brumadinho disaster, our friends MAB (Movement of People Affected by Dams), along with a coalition of civil society groups, have held a march and public event in support of PNAB (National Policy on the Rights of People Affected by Dams) – a crucial initiative that emphasizes the rights of people affected by dams. By advocating for the implementation of this national policy, they aim to address the broader systemic issues that contribute to the ongoing harm done by these dam-related tragedies. These public gathering will provide a platform for dialogue, awareness, and a united call for change.

Marking the fifth anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster, a speaker at the public debate calls for new regulations to protect people affected by dam disasters in Brazil.

The fifth anniversary of the Brumadinho dam disaster is a somber occasion that prompts us to reflect on the progress made and the challenges that persist. It is a call to action for governments, corporations, and individuals to prioritize human rights and environmental protection over short-term gains. Let us honor the memory of the lives lost by advocating for justice, holding those responsible accountable, and working towards a future where disasters like Brumadinho are prevented, and our planet is safeguarded for generations to come.