National Human Rights Council at Belo Monte

A commission of the National Human Rights Council were in Altamira last week to verify the violations of rights occurred at the construction of the power plant Belo Monte. The commission is related to the Work-group regarding people affected by dams and answers the denounce made by MAB to the council.

Last Monday (June 1st) the council and members of the work-group met with more than 30 representatives of organizations and social movements from the region to hear their rapport on the main impacts felt at the region. Part of the group also joined the inspection team of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) to check the situation of the riverine population.

Local organizations were present at the meeting, besides MAB, trade-union of potters workers, carters, teachers, miners workers, rural workers, members of the Prelacy of Xingu, Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), Commission of Justice and Peace (CJP), Movement of Women of the City and Countryside (MMCC), Movement Xingu Vivo para Sempre (MXVPS), Fundação Viver, Produzir e Preservar (FVPP), public organs like the Tutelary and Security Council and others.

Some denounces

During the day, the group collected some denounces to start their work at the region. Brás, president of the Trade Union of the Potters workers, denounced that Norte Energia, owner of Belo Monte, imposed criteria and methodologies to compensate one of the oldest category in the region and which will have its work flooded by the dam. According to his report, the company only recognizes to compensate the owners of the pottery industry and disconsider the potter workers and those workers at its transport. Only 108 workers from a number of more than 250 workers have been recognized by the company as affected. After a process of struggles these workers have the right to compensation but is treated by the company as a “financial support” instead of a right.

For the carters, the situation is worse, because they are not even recognized as an affected category and its rights is not preseen at the Basic Environmental Project of Belo Monte. According to Naldo, President of Carters, the category suffers with the increase of car traffic and there is less demand to their work. “A traject that used to take 30 minutes is taking now half a day. Before, everyday there were fisherman bringing fish to transport, today only every 15 days the fishers come. The people of the down city which used a lot of our service are also being evicted.” A study of the Federal University of Para had already pointed out to the impacts suffered by the carters, but even with the struggles of the category with MAB the company continues to present studies that denies these impacts.

The women movement and the Tutelary Council denounced the increase of violence in the context the dam building, in particularly against women and the youth. According to Antonia Martins, of the women movement, 611 cases of violence against women were registered in 2014. In January this year seven young men were murdered by the police. According to the tutelary council Rosa Pessoa, the drug traffic have increased and the main victims are the adolescents. “The teenagers are arrested, then released and murdered afterwards.”

The tutelary counselors Edizângela and Rosa Pessoa denounced that the Tutelary Council are receiving 2500 cases per year, but the structure of the Council is the same as before the dam, with only five councilors to attend the municipality which includes districts 1000 kilometers far.

Lindomar Maués, president of the security Council, affirmed that an agreement with the company and the state government have been firmed to invest 100 millions reais in security, but you can't see where this money is being invested; for example, the public security facilities continues to be in the same rented buildings in Altamira.

Cleanton, of the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) denounced Norte Energia for not recognizing the indigenous population that lives in the city. They do not receive any kind of treatment regarded to indigenous population, they have suffered forced eviction and even forced to separate from their families. Claudio Kuruaia, an indigenous leadership, told that after three years of process Norte Energia had committed to instal an specific resettlement for indigenous and riverine populations, called Pedral, near by the river. But the company is trying to relive from its agreement. Cleanton also denounce the process of cooptation of leaderships wich have been employed by Norte Energia against the indigenous people. “Norte Energia report that 14 millions reais have been already invested at indigenous communities, but when you come those communities you see misery. Alcohol and drugs are entering to the communities through employees of the “conditioners”.” He also classified as “inhuman” the treatment given at the Indigenous House at Altamira. “From 26 conditioners regarding the indigenous population only six have been partially accomplished”.

The effects of Belo Monte are also felt at the neighbor municipalities of Altamira, as denounces Brás and Josélia, members of the Justice and Peace Commission from Brasil Novo. They report the increase of the number of accidents at the highway and crisis at the health system at the municipality. Josélia also reminded about the murder of the two rural workers during the protest at the entrance of the construction site of Belo Monte, which happened on May 18th . “The police is willing to treat this murder as an traffic accident, but we all know that it was a murder and we demand justice.”

Lucivan, from the teachers trade-union, reported that only one school have been reformed by Norte Energia, “and only after a lot of pressure of the students”. He reports that the school evasion at the high school level have increased since the construction and this is a big concern. Besides, Norte Energia have not build one school at the resettlements, forcing the children to take long trajects with the bus to go to school.

The problems at the resettlement were also reported by Edizângela, who is also MAB's coordinator and is resettled at the neighborhood Jatobá with 1000 affected families. According to her, there is lack of water at the resettlement, sometimes for days. There as sewage treatment at the area which is not working and everyday gives a very bad smell, which is affecting the families well being. MAB also denounced the problems regarding the process of removal of the families. The number of the houses build is not enough to resettle all those affected. “There are more than 8 thousand families registered and there is only 5 thousand houses. Anyone can see the math problem here. Now, Norte Energia is going over any standard treatment and is even trying to buy from those affected the right for a house" affirmed Iury Paulino, from MAB.

MAB and Xingu Vivo also denounced the process of criminalization of people affected by dams and social movements through the prohibitory interdicts. The movement denounced the recruitment of an armed militia to intimidate the residents of flooded areas not to build or repair more houses, and the presence of a retired colonel of the military police to spy on the activities of organizations.