Four years after the tragedy in Brumadinho, relatives demand justice

An intense schedule of activities marked the four-year anniversary of the tragedy in Brumadinho, in Minas Geraus. From an early age, relatives and friends of those killed in the collapse of the dam at the Córrego do Feijão mine, gathered in a collective movement to honor the victims and demand justice. At 7:30 am, they were received at the parish premises of São Sebastião, where they presented impressions of the process of repairing the damage caused by the rupture of the Vale dam at the Córrego do Feijão mine.

“Brumadinho is not the city of reparation. It is the city of indignation, pain and suffering of each one of us, who wake up every single day and go to sleep crying out for justice, which is the least”, said Silas Fialho. He even worked at the Córrego do Feijão mine as an administrative assistant, but left the job in 2016, almost three years before the dam collapsed. In the tragedy, he lost a cousin.

A mass was also celebrated by Dom Vicente Ferreira, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte. Afterwards, those present walked to the Brumadinho sign, at the entrance to the city, where tributes were paid, organized by the Association of Relatives of Victims and Affected People (Avabrum).

The rupture of Vale’s dam in Brumadinho is considered one of the biggest environmental and labor tragedies in Brazil. The structure that collapsed operated supported by audits by Tüv Süd, which signed the declaration of stability. The avalanche of mud that formed caused impacts on the Paraopeba River basin and left 270 people dead, most of them employees working in the mining company’s structures. The bodies of three victims are still missing and are sought by the Fire Department.

Avabrum refers to victims as jewels. In the entity‘s account, there are 272, considering the babies of two women who died pregnant. During the tributes, the name of each victim was announced. “We are very concerned that other people do not suffer the same as us. That is why we have systematically denounced dams in precarious conditions and joined the voices that ask for more safety for workers in mining and for communities close to mines” , registers text published on the entity‘s social networks.

Avabrum’s board also read a letter sent by the Minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, in which she says that Brazil needs to overcome its history of injustices and that it is not possible to live with impunity. “I was in Brumadinho, I was moved by the pain and the cry of its people for justice. But I saw something else, which serves as a lesson for all of us: the hard material of indignation being used to build hope”, records an excerpt from the letter.

Brumadinho tragedy completes four years.

Events that remembered the tragedy were named IV Romaria Pela Ecologia Integral a Brumadinho – Disclosure/Aedas

The agenda organized by those affected to commemorate the tragedy was named the IV Pilgrimage for Integral Ecology to Brumadinho. Tributes also took place yesterday afternoon (24) during a motorcade that departed from Parque das Rosas Cemetery, where some victims are buried. The date was also remembered in other municipalities of the Paraopeba River basin, such as Sarzedo (MG), with a mass organized by the city hall, the city council and the Santa Rosa de Lima Parish.

In addition to honoring the victims, those affected demand speed in the judgment of the criminal process and greater participation in the process of repairing damages. This week, 16 people linked to Vale and Tüv Süd became defendants in Federal Court and will be tried for environmental crimes and qualified homicide. They are the same ones who responded to the process that was being processed in the state court. However, in December, the Federal Superior Court (STF) decided that the jurisdiction is federal. Thus, the trial will need to be restarted.

In the civil sphere, the reparation agreement, which was sealed in February 2021 between the mining company Vale, the Public Ministry of Minas Gerais (MPMG), the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), the Public Defender of Minas Gerais, has been put into practice. and the mining government. Although they can vote on the destination of a part of the resources involved, those affected consider that their participation is still limited and assess that there are problems in the reparation actions.

In its social networks, the State Association for Environmental and Social Defense (Aedas), an entity chosen by the residents of Brumadinho to act as technical advisory, says that new impacts have been observed over time. “The rupture of the Vale dam and its dimensions continue to spread its damage in areas such as work, income and housing; increasing cases of depression and use of prescription drugs among the affected population; exterminating traditions and ways of living; contaminating soil, plants, animals and much more”, says the text.

In turn, the mining company Vale highlighted in its site the latest repair balance sheet for the second half of 2022, which provides various information on socioeconomic and socioenvironmental measures involving, for example, water treatment, infrastructure works, dam management, etc. “Vale sympathizes with each of the relatives of the victims of the dam failure in Brumadinho. We know that these are irreparable losses and we are committed to continuing to work to minimize the effects of this tragedy”, says the publication’s opening message.

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In Belo Horizonte, a plenary session organized by the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) was attended by representatives of different justice institutions and the Minister of Mines and Energy, Alexandre Silveira, who heard demands. “Now we want to have a leading role. First of all, we want justice to be done, for Vale to be punished and for this punishment to serve as an example so that the crime does not happen again, because 272 lives were taken. And until today we are suffering from water insecurity and health problems”, said Joelísia Feitosa, resident of Juatuba (MG).

The minister said that it is important to listen to social movements and that the tragedy will not be forgotten. Silveira defended the adoption of new mining practices in the country that prioritize respect for life. “We will invest resources and efforts in the strict enforcement of dam safety to prevent regrettable events from happening again.”

An act was also held today in front of the European Parliament, in Brussels, capital of Belgium. In London, the tragedy was remembered at a summit of investors on mining held at the Stock Exchange in the English capital. At the event, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced the creation of an independent institute dedicated to promoting industry safety standards. A representative of Avabrum will participate in the discussions.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News