Tuesday — Water and Energy are Not for Sale — Movement of People Affected by Dams

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Tuesday — 05.27.14 — Water and Energy are Not for Sale — Movement of
People Affected by Dams

0. About Tuesday
1. About Elisa Estronioli and José Alves de Oliveira
2. Leading a River Revolution in Brazil

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A fire took place on the ground
floor of our building last month. We
are still being cautious and limited
with what we are organizing in the

We have been told that things are ok
and our floor can be occupied, but
since we are not sure, we write this as
a courtesy especially for those with any prior
lung condition, asthma, or sensitivity.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

0. About Tuesday

What: A Strategic Dialogue with MAB / Movement of People Affected by Dams
When: Tuesday May 27th
Where: 16 Beaver St 4th Floor
Time: 8:00pm
Who: Free and open to all

We would like to invite those interested to a meeting on Tuesday night
with Elisa Estronioli and José Alves de Oliveira, both of whom have been
strongly involved in Brazil’s Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) –
one of the most successful movements globally today resisting the
state/energy/capital nexus.

As José puts it, “Our politicians have been gambling with this serious
issue of climate change. They are promoting false solutions like
cap-and-trade mechanisms that allow polluters to continue polluting, thus
generating more climate instability. They are using these carbon credits
to raise funds to build more dams that are displacing people from their
ancestral land.”

This meeting will be a chance to speak with them about their struggle and
discuss their strategies. We are hopeful that some of their insights can
conjoin to struggles in this region and beyond against the
state/energy/capital nexus and toward reclaiming a common(s).

1. About Elisa Estronioli and José Alves de Oliveira

Elisa Estronioli works at the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB)’s
Communication Sector. Trained as jornalist, she documents the violations
of human rights regarding the building of Belo Monte Dam in the Brazilian
Amazon and helps in the organizing of families who are being affected by
this mega-dam. Elisa was born in the southern state of São Paulo. Like
Josivaldo, she is a member of MAB’s national coordinating commitee

José Alves de Oliveira is a farmer originally from Brazil’s Northeast
state of Ceará. He joined MAB in 1998, as he and his family were affected
by the construction of the Castanhão dam. He is one of the main leaders of
the movement in Northeast Brazil, where he played a critical role in the
organizing effort to reclaim land, housing and social services for
thousands of displaced families. Josivaldo also supported communities in
the Brazilian Amazon that were displaced by the Jirau and Santo Antonio
dams on the Madeira River in Rondonia state. He is a leading organizer
against the multi-billion watershed transposition project in the São
Francisco River in Northeast Brazil.

2. Leading a River Revolution in Brazil

By Jovanna Garcia Soto
March 26th, 2014

The Tapajos River basin is one of the best preserved regions in Brazil, a
mosaic of protected forest reserves and indigenous lands. This river is
located in the heart of the Amazon and is the home of the Munduruku’s
indigenous people and other riverine communities. It is the only river in
the Amazon River basin currently free of dams. And a river revolution is
happening there, led by Brazil’s Movement of People Affected by Dams
(MAB), a Grassroots International partner working in solidarity with
indigenous people to stop the government’s outrageous plan to build six
dams along the Tapajos River.

Why is this river revolution necessary?

Because the Brazilian government is promoting the idea of dam construction
as an economic growth model and as a “clean and green” solution to the
climate and energy crisis, parading false promises of development, job
opportunities and better quality of life as arguments to convince people
to accept the hydroelectric construction. However, the reality of this
economic model has already devastated communities in the Amazon Region.
These communities have suffered from land grabs and displacement,
deforestation, floods, and the fragmentation of important ecosystems. Even
the food chain that communities depend on for survival has been affected.
Now communities along the Tapajos River in Para State face similar

The government’s insatiable appetite for dams is clear in its “ten-year
plan of energy expansion 2021.” The government’s ambitious goal is the
construction of 34 hydroelectric dams in the next decade, 15 of which will
be located in the Amazon Region. Electrical energy generation is not the
only component of this plan, however. These dams are part of a joint
government and multinational corporate vision to create a transportation
infrastructure for soy and other agribusiness products and for mining
commodities such as gold and bauxite. After the completion of the dams,
reservoirs will be formed allowing barge traffic along the river in areas
that are not currently navigable.

What are the human and environmental costs of this vision? We just need to
look at the nearby mega-project, Belo Monte dam, on the Xingu River to see
the consequences. When completed, the Belo Monte dam will displace
hundreds of thousands of people, four times more than government
estimates. But that is not all: Norte Energía (the consortium behind the
Belo Monte dam) and the federal government agencies have also failed to
implement required mitigation measures. According to MAB, families
affected by the construction of Belo Monte have yet to be relocated or
properly compensated. Many live in areas without access to fresh water,
electricity, health care, schools or other necessary infrastructure.
Instead of promised compensation, the dam has left a trail of human rights
violation and disrespect for traditional people and biodiversity. If Belo
Monte is any example, the much larger Tapajos Complex will expel thousands
of families with absolutely no compensation as well.

In fact, Tapajos could be even worse; this unprecedented mega- project
involves the construction of six dams, with an estimated power potential
of 10,700 MW – more than the largest hydroelectric dam in USA, Grand
Coulee Dam, whose three power plants have a capacity of 6,809 MW. The dams
will change the Tapajos River’s natural course, inundating an area as
large as the city of São Paulo, slightly larger in size than the state of
Rhode Island. Indigenous, riverine communities and others living along or
near the river run the risk of being displaced.

But people are building resistance, and at the forefront is one of
Grassroots International’s partners, the Movement of People Affected by
Dams (MAB).

Leading the resistance
MAB has more than 20 years of experience organizing – and winning
victories – around territory, water and energy sovereignty. A national
movement, MAB defends the rights of women and men affected by
hydroelectric dams. The movement also represents thousands of families
throughout Brazil who have already been displaced or are being threatened
with the loss of their homes and livelihoods. MAB is building a strong
resistance movement, which seeks an alternative development model that
integrates people in the decision-making process, where the sustainability
of the environment, culture, and communities is at the center.

In June 2013, MAB gained a significant victory: all the technical and
environmental studies required before dam construction along the Tapajos
River could begin were suspended. This was a result of the organized
resistance, including the action of the Mundurukus, who detained three
biologists for invading their territory, without permission, to collect

Although this was an important advance in the struggle, it was not the end
of their journey. In the blink of an eye, in August, the government
started the technical and environmental studies once again, without the
required Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of affected communities.
The FPIC established through the International Labor Organization’s
Convention 169 says governments must provide indigenous peoples with
advance information about any proposed projects on their territories, and
that those projects can only move forward if the indigenous communities

And when it comes to the dams along the Tapajos River, the community
doesn’t consent – at all. They are fighting back. During the International
Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life (March 14), MAB
took to the streets all around the country, organizing massive
mobilizations, blocking highways and occupying tolls, energy companies’
headquarters and other governmental agencies. They demanded a national
policy of rights for populations affected by dams and the immediate
cancelation of the Tapajos dam complex.

The Tapajos dam complex would be the death of one of the most spectacular
rivers in Brazil and the destruction of immense ecological corridors.
According to Yara Naí, an activist from MAB, this project is an
environmental, economic, social and cultural crime which compromises
human, animal and botanical life and disrespects the indigenous people’s
territories and governmental and international agreements. Hydroelectric
dams are not an innovative economic model for the Amazon region or Brazil,
but rather an outdated idea that will destroy natural resources, pollute
rivers, land and air and violate the rights of local and indigenous