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.



  • Show Comments (3)

  • forrest allen brown

    i was the only thing with lights on the river .

    even the tug boats use old oil lamps with red & green
    to show where they are and the way they are going .

    if they just went to free enegry .com they could find water plants that use
    the current of the river oe waves to make power
    but with no dams they cant use there computers

  • Simpleton

    Tanks empty
    Better that the gen cuts off at 9:30, 10 at the latest. That way grandma, mom and daughter can get their evening “work” done at a decent hour and get a good night’s rest to boot. That’s the way it goes on Ilha Grande where folks have either their own gen’s or are serviced by a small co-op section. Also loved Paraty when things shorted out and lit on fire taking down the whole grid. No elec, no lights, no bothersome noise making party-on folks visiting from Bahia or elsewherev – just silence, peace and tranquility. Kind of like sleeping over in the more isolated Rio Favela’s north of Barra / Recreio although there the power does not go out, it’s just that things go quiet / everyone goes inside at night and doesn’t bother the neighbors / draw attention to themselves.

  • Ric

    There are, very conservatively speaking, over 55 million people in the Northeast of Brazil plus the state of Para, who are directly affected by dams, since that’s where their electricity comes from. Many of these people are poor and without hydroelectric power, would have no electricity at all, as in the old days before the dams.

    On the other hand, you can’t buy parts for Alladin lamps anymore, so blowing up the dams would help the factories who make lamps and those who sell kerosene.

    I still have 10 butane tubes from the days when we used butane on the fridge, the iron, the stove, the lights, the tractor, and the generator.

    By contrast, Manaus still uses Diesel, as did Belem before Tucurui. Manaus used 800 million liters of Diesel for electricity in 2007, at a cost of 1.5 billion Reais for the fuel only, let alone the equipment.

    Plus another 250 million liters in 2007 for interior locations in Amazonas.

    When the interior town has its own light plant or plants owned by the city hall, they get money from Brasilia. They put up a building, hire relatives to run and maintain the equipment, maybe two 300 KVA Scanias. They provide lights from 6 pm until 11 pm. People buy freezers, not fridges. The prefecture alternates the use of both units until one springs a leak in the radiator. They fix the leak with Durepoxi. It leaks again and gets hot and cracks the head. They then keep the good motor going using parts from the one with the cracked head. The good motor finally gives out. People who sold their home light plants regret having sold them. In a few months or years the cycle starts again.

    Manaus is looking at a natural gas pipeline to get away from diesel. Either way, fossil fuel. Short term solution. Vagaries of Bolivian political policy.

    My guess is that in a few years, Manaus will have hydroelectric power. So have a nice campout and make sure to take some pictures. These protests will be good for the airlines, equippers, local economy, nice perk for some employees of NGOs. What you won’t get is cheaper power, until the dams go on line.

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