MAC: Mines and Communities

Brazil: Civil Society Repudiates Samarco Deal

Published by MAC on 2016-03-20

The entire world has witnessed the lives of millions of people being devastated.

COESUS, Cooperlivre ARAYARA Foundation,, CIMI Nacional, FONASC and hundreds of social organizations have repudiated the deal signed by Samarco, Vale, BHP Billiton and the federal government.

For previous article on MAC see: US investors file class action lawsuit over Samarco dam burst  

Organizations and civil society movements repudiate treaty signed between the mining companies Samarco/Vale/BHP and the public authorities

Translated by Wellerson Nunes

4 March 2016

The National Committee in Defense of the Territory In Front of Mining and the International Joint for the Harmed by Vale repudiate the deal made between the mining companies Samarco, Vale and BHP and the federal and state authorities. The deal, if approved by the judge of the 12th Federal Court of the Judiciary Section of Minas Gerais, ends the public civil action that is being moved against the companies for the violation of the human, social and environmental due to the Fundão’s tailings dam break, in Mariana, on November 5, 2015.

This Wednesday, March 2, a ceremony held at the Presidential Palace publicly formalized the agreement between the mining companies and public authorities. Since last week, the Committee and the Joint has been monitoring the negotiation progress of this extrajudicial deal. The draft agreement was published 24th of this month by the Public Agency, in an article titled “Samarco, Vale and BHP will decide who and how they will compensate for the disaster”. Among the parties in the agreement, there are the Federal Government, the State of Minas Gerais and the State of Espírito Santo, besides several federal and state inspection institutions, of regulation and environmental monitoring, such as the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Renewable Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis – Ibama), the National Department of Mineral Production (Departamento Nacional de Produção Mineral – DNPM) and the National Agency of Water Agência Nacional de Águas (ANA).

The deal impacts severely the population of the cities affected by the disaster, in Mariana and along all the Rio Doce basin. It creates a private Foundation that gives the mining companies the power to treat every violation of human, social, economic and cultural right. The Foundation, funded by Samarco, Vale and BHP, will set the value of the indemnity of each one of the harmed, in an isolated manner, and will be able to hire lawyers in case any of the indemnified doesn’t agree with the proposed indemnity. That means that the companies responsible for the disaster and the violation of human rights resulting from it propose and negotiate an indemnity value. If it isn’t accepted by the harmed and the indirectly impacted, these can make use of lawyers costed by the own Foundation to prosecute itself. This mechanism violates the warranties of the legit legal process.

This is only one of the wicked mechanisms that this deal intends to implement, an accord that didn’t take in consideration the harmed or the social movements in its elaboration. It was done totally behind closed doors, and its divulgation was made only by the Public Agency. This deal is an affront to the rights of all the people that suffer with the effects of this disaster in their lives. And the idea that everything can be ‘solved’ behind closed doors between the companies and the government is an affront to collectivity. The extinction of the public civil action by means of this kind of deal is convenient only to the companies, because once signed and accepted there is no way to undo it. And with the author parts implicated in the deal, there is no way to appeal.

The deal also violates the right of indigenous and traditional communities affected along the Rio Doce basin. These communities haven’t been equally communicated about the existence of this negotiation, which violates their right to free consultation, foresee, and informed, granted by the convention 169 of the International Labour Organization.

The programs executed by the Foundation would be supervised by an Inter-federative Committee, composed of representing of state and federal executive power. From the analysis of the draft published by the press, it’s possible to understand that this Committee plays two roles: one related to the support and definition of the Foundation’s actions in the elaboration and execution of programs. There is, however, the fear that the independence of action of regulation and supervision institutions, such as the Ibama, the DNPM, the ANA, as well as state institutions from Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais, be constrained by the terms of the deal.

The draft of the agreement announced on Wednesday estimate the amount of BLR$  20 billions in damages, but, according to information released by the press last friday, the current version of the deal implies the payment of only BLR$ 4,4 billions in the first three years, in installments. The remaining amount, of a yet uncertain value, would be disbursed along ten years.

According to information passed by the Press Office of the Attorney General’s Office to the Committee in Defense of the Territories Facing Mining, the draft released by the Public Agency would be outdated in relation to the most recent negotiations, but the lack of transparency and accountability of the federal and state government and of the public institutions implicated was such during the whole process, that the movements and organizations of the civil society haven’t even had access to the updated terms of this deal. That is, a negotiation that impacts the life of millions of people during all the Rio Doce basin has runned, until the end, completely armored and without any dialogue with the victims.

The entire world has witnessed the lives of millions of people being devastated by these companies. With the signature of this deal, the violation of the human, social, economic and environmental rights becomes now a great deal.

The human rights are not negotiable, our life and our nature are not for sale!

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