Brazilians Affected by Dams Hold a Week of Protests

MAB in Brazil Brazil's Movement of Those Affected by Dams (MAB – Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens) conducted a series of activities in protest against the construction of hydroelectric dams in honor of the International Struggle against Dams Day, observed on March 14. 

Throughout the world, populations affected by dams condemn the energy model that, historically, has caused serious social, economic, cultural and environmental consequences.

"We want to denounce the disrespect done to families affected by the building of dams, but also, beyond this, we want to propose alternatives for sustainable economic development," stated Orcélio Muniz, on behalf of the coordination of MAB. 

One of the alternatives will be a resettling worthy of these families, with opportunities for work and education for their children, so that they can truly rebuild their lives.

Data from the World Commission on Dams, an organization linked to the United Nations, revealed that approximately 80 million people worldwide were affected directly or indirectly by the construction of hydroelectric dams. 

In Brazil, they have already displaced one million people and covered more than 34 thousand square kilometers of land with water from the reservoirs.

"We stand opposed to the construction of hydroelectric power, because the lakes created by the dams generate energy in order to create wealth.  The local communities remain excluded and have to change their whole way of life because of this.  And the Brazilian population also is going to come out worse off, since Brazil, even though it is producing a great amount of hydroelectric energy,  still has the fifth most expensive energy costs in the world," claims Orcélio.

The MAB criticizes the governments and the courts that are granting environmental permits and confiscating property extremely quickly in order to build dams.  The entity highlighted that the last years were marked by the advance of large national and foreign companies in the control of natural resources, minerals, water, seeds, food, oil and electric energy.

The members of the movement protested throughout the whole week.  In Rondônia, starting on March 11, hundreds of riverfolk affected by the dams of Madeira River are camped out in Porto Velho [the state capital of Rondônia]. 

Among the points listed on the agenda of grievance, is the suspension of the permits that authorize the construction and working of the factories and punishment for the environmental crimes that the companies are committing.

MAB still demands the immediate suspension in the privatization drive of the Madeira River and its energy and that all people have access to the Madeira River and the lakes without threats, persecution or cost. 

They also want the reduction in the prices of electric energy, with the exemption of payment up to 100 kwh/month for all families, and that the price for consuming more than 100kwh/month will be based on the actual cost of production, as well as the immediate suspension of subsidies to large consumers of electric energy, in particular those industries that export electricity on a grand scale.

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