Lula assumes historic debt with dam affected people
Last Wednesday (22/07), President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, admitted having “debts” with the Movement of Dam Affected People (MAB) during the launching of Plan Safra for family agriculture in Brasilia. According to the president, for a long period of time dams have been constructed throughout the country without addressing the compensation and resettlement claims of the dam affected people.
“MAB is the movement I asked comrade Dulci (Minister Luiz Dulci of the General Secretariat of the Republic) to discuss and find out what the Brazilian State owes them, because definitely we have debts with them. During a long period of time dams have been constructed and houses were promised but no houses were given, neither land”. Lula even affirmed that he doesn’t want to leave the government without paying out this historic debt of the State with the dam affected people.
According to 2002 data from the World Commission on Dams (WCD) there are one million people displaced by dams in Brazil. Of these, 70% have not received any or adequate compensation. The situation will most likely worsen with the construction of new mega-projects like the Rio Madeira Complex in the State of Rondonia.
According to the National Coordination of MAB “the Brazilian electricity sector has become a landless people production machine by violently expelling families from their land and leaving them without any compensation whatsoever. The state does not recognize the concept of dam affected people and historically we have been the “obstacle” in the eyes of construction companies and the state, which disrespect our rights”.
Last week a delegation of the Movement held a series of meetings with some ministries and secretariats of the federal government. The objective was exactly to seek solutions for the numerous social and environmental problems caused by dam construction throughout the country. Next week MAB will release the main discussion points with the Brazilian government.
The recognition by the President that the Brazilian State has debts with MAB has been well received by the National Coordination of the Movement, which sees this move as a first step towards resolving the historic problems faced by the dam affected families throughout Brazil.
The National Coordination of the Movement stated after the meetings that “[we] were well received in all the meetings with ministerial delegations which recognized the debts with the dam affected people, however, we are still expecting concrete measures and initiatives from these meetings with the government. In addition we are still expecting to be heard by the ministries that could not attend us last week”.
An example of current conflicts pending resolution is the case of the
Hydroelectric Power Plant Estreito on the Tocantins River (State of Tocantins),
where dam affected people set up another camp this week in front of the plant
seeking resolution of their problems. The objective of the mobilization is to
pressure the construction consortium CESTE and its main shareholder GDF-Suez to
discuss and attend the demands of the people affected by this dam.