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International Articulation of People Affected by Vale Travels to Europe to Denounce Mining Crimes in Brazil

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International Articulation of People Affected by Vale

Group will meet with investors, politicians and representatives of international organizations in seven countries to discuss shared responsibility for deaths and other violations caused by mineral extractivism

Representatives of social movements of people affected by mining have embarked on a tour of denunciation in several European countries with respect to rights violations in the mining sector in Brazil and globally by companies in the mining and steel value chin, who through their transnational capital flows foment conflicts and create inequalities.

The agenda includes participation in the activities of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, meetings with UN Special Rapporteurs, audiences with members of the European Parliament and the German parliament, representatives of the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD), Vale S.A. investors and companies that purchase minerals extracted in Brazil.  They will also participate in public debates and protest actions.

The International Articulation of People Affected by Vale will be represented by Carolina de Moura Campos, general coordinator of the Jangada Community Association in Brumadinho, Marcela Rodrigues, relative of a victim of the collapse of Tailings Dam 1 in Brumadinho, Danilo Chammas, community lawyer from the Justice on the Rails coalition which acts in defence of communities impacted by Vale in Amazonia and Minas Gerais and Antonia Flavia da Silva Nascimento, resident in the Piquiá de Baixo community in Maranhão state, impacted by Vale’s pig iron works and railway line. The group will tour in Europe until November 5, denouncing the crimes of mining to investors, parliamentarians and international organizations in Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, France, Italy and Belgium.

The tour begins with participation in the programme, “Cities Defending Human Rights” in Catalunha, Spain. The next stop will be Geneva, Switzerland where the group will participate in meetings at the United Nations to enact a binding treaty to hold corporations responsible for violations of human rights and the rights of nature. In parallel, the group with contribute to the activities of the Amazon Synod, taking place in Rome during the same period.

“During the days that follow our objective is to denounce the corporate impunity of Vale and the companies associated with it, their threat to resume operations in the Paraopeba complex, in Brumadinho (Jangada mine), the lack of genuine commitment by Vale and the Brazilian state to measures for full reparations and guarantees against repetitions of what happened in Brumadinho and in the Rio Doce Basin, in Minas Gerais and in Piquiá de Baixo, Baixo in Acailandia, in the Brazilian Amazon.”

It will also be relevant to demonstrate the cause-effect relationship between the actions of European companies and the violations of human rights and environmental damages in Brazil, noting particularly the role of German companies with particular emphases on the crimes of Vale S.A. Carolina de Moura Campos’ explained: It is imperative to communicate here in Europe the dramatic situation we are living in Brazil. We are overwhelmed with extractivist projects that generate cruel deaths and irreversible environmental destruction. In Brazil it is public knowledge that Vale lies and misleads society. The processes of reparation are happening at an absurdly slow pace, all based on agreements under the company’s control. They implement the terrorism of the dams as a way to appropriate more territory. We live in panic, faced with the risk of imminent tailings dam collapses. In the immediate area around Belo Horizonte, the state capital, there are 19 tailings dams designated as in a ‘state of emergency’.” 

The group will be in Geneva from October 12-15 where a UN Working Group Session and a Week of Popular Mobilization on a binding treaty on corporations and human rights will be taking place.  This will be followed by meeting with German Parliamentarians where the group will advocate for the creation of a law in Germany and throughout Europe for due diligence in relation to the entire value chain.  The objective is to create mechanisms through which companies commit to inspecting the origin of the raw materials used in fabrication of their products and place conditions on the mining companies and producers of pig iron.

On October 14, the group will be in Switzerland for a conference and debate on the theme: “Vale destroys our lives and the planet.” Studies from the Institute of Fiscal Justice (IJF) reveal that from 2009 to 2015, with Vale exports alone, Brazil lost US$12.4 billion in taxes due to underpricing of the company’s exports. Basically, Vale exported to itself in fiscal paradises with under-valued prices, thereby reducing the proportional taxes (such as, for example, the Financial Compensation for Exploration of Mineral Resources – CFEM – tax). This is how Vale set up fiscal didges, using Switzerland as a warehouse. After Vale sold the ore at below market prices to its own office in Switzerland, the Vale Switzerland office resold the product at full market price.

One of the most important activities will take place on October 22 at 7 pm in Berlin when a panel discussion will take place on the theme “Fatal collapse of a tailings dam in Brazil: what responsibility do German companies hold?” The panel will deal with how to make German companies assume responsibility through what is called the supply chain. A major example is the certificate of stability for the Vale Tailing Dam 1 in its Brumadinho operations that was issued by the German company TUV SUD. The German company signed off on this stability guarantee just four months before the dam collapsed killing almost 300 people.

The Tuv Sud case illustrates that German companies must be legally bound to guarantee due diligence for human rights in their activities abroad. This is the demand of the Initiative for a Law on Supply Chains, supported by 64 civil society organizations including the European Centre for Constitutional Rights (ECCHR) and MISEREOR.

Throughout the trip, the group will carry out denunciations with respect to the bankruptcy of the mining model operative in Brazil, the current government’s pronouncements about opening up the Amazon to mining which will impact on Indigenous communities and the threats and attacks on legal instruments for environmental protection. Laws in Brazil allowing self-regulation of tailings dams will also be denounced; allowing mining companies to self-regulate has been shown to be inefficient and has brought insecurity and panic to thousands of people.

Danilo Chammas summed up the situation in these words: “There is something that we at times find hard to understand. In reality, mining corporations kill every day. A model of mining exists which is applied not just in Brazil but also in other places. The model is highly predatory and irresponsible. The impacts provoked by large-scale mining involve removals of people, violent deaths, diseases, contamination of the surrounding air, water and land. On top of all of this, we also have to contend with the complicity of some European companies, investors, banks and governments.”

The tour will come to an end with a commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the collapse of the Fundao tailings dam belonging to Samarco/Vale/BHP in Mariana. The commemorative act will serve as an expression of international solidarity, giving dignity to the victims, not letting the crime be forgotten, and denouncing corporate impunity. The act will also remember the dangers to the lives and physical/psychic integrity of those who defend human rights and the environment in Brazil.

Contact:

  • Piê Garcia, Comunicadora da Articulação Internacional dos Atingidos e Atingidas pela Vale, +21 980215313, [email protected]