Featured image: Popular Assembly in Canaã dos Carajás. Source: AND
We publish this unofficial translation of the article of A Nova Democracia.
Residents of Vila Bom Jesus, located in the municipality of Canaã dos Carajás, southeastern Pará, held a popular assembly on November 11th. The community expressed their opposition to the crimes caused by the mining company Vale, which it had been committing since the 2000s, when it began a copper extraction project at Mina do Sossego. Several entities were present at the activity, such as the Union of Rural Workers of Canaã dos Carajás, Residents’ Association of Vila Bom Jesus, Center for Education Research and Trade Union and Popular Advisory-CEPASP, People’s Brigades and representatives from the Alto da Serra camp.
After repeated demands to the company for efficient measures and also complaints to institutional bodies, without response, the residents’ main decision was to continue in a permanent assembly in order to expand the discussion for future actions until blocking the implementation of the new project. Other goals were added, such as continuing mobilization and politicization in the village and surrounding areas; inviting all groups of families affected by Vale to the next meeting; pressuring the municipal public authorities to participate in the next assembly.
Since 2009, peasants from Vila Bom Jesus and those living near the Sossego project have complained about the damage caused by the project’s operation. No action was taken by the company Vale. The public bodies that were supposed to monitor it turned a blind eye to the situation. The large mining company claimed that the damage to the people does not exist.
Residents claimed to be victims of smoke and dust caused by the detonation of dynamite in the rocks of the open-pit mine, which is 2 kilometers from the village; they pointed out the lowering of the level of ground water; the pollution of ground water and rivers and streams; the vibration caused by explosives that cause damage by causing cracks in houses due to strong shocks; and noise pollution – in addition to explosives, there are sirens installed in the community, which are frequently alarmed.
Currently, the large mining company Vale announced the installation of a new project to mine more copper. One of the deposits is less than 2 kilometers from Vila Bom Jesus. Families were very worried, as Vale’s promises were previously not fully fulfilled and the problems caused by the Sossego project were not resolved.
Vila Bom Jesus was an occupation of workers and peasants who had been on those lands since the 1980s. The history of this community goes back to the remnants of gold extraction that operated in Vila Sossego in the early 1980s. These families had already saw the Serra Pelada mining. To loot the region, Vale dismantled the Sossego community and expelled it to this other location, without ever guaranteeing the minimum rights and guarantees for the people – a minimum counterpart to the exploitation of minerals.