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The National Meeting of the People Affected by Dams (MAB) of Brazil was marked by struggle and mobilization. On the last two days of the meeting there were important demonstrations in Sao Paulo: an action against two transnational corporations involved in corruption of the city’s transport system (Astrom and Siemens) and a massive march for energy sovereignty along one of the city’s main avenues, Avenida Paulista.
The movement Levante Popular de la Juventud participated in the march, as well as the Federation of Oil Workers (FUP). The organizations are part of the Peasant and Worker’s Energy Platform, which comprises members like La Via Campesina Brazil, MAB, the Rural Landless Peasants’ Movement (MST), the Central Union of Grassroots Movements, the National Federation of “Ubranitarios”, the Interstate Federation of Engineers Trade Unions, the General Workers Central of Brazil (CGT) and the Central Union of Workers (CUT).
During the march, Real World Radio interviewed Jose Antonio de Moraes, a leader of the Federation of Oil Workers (FUP). Moraes highlighted the importance of coordinating actions with other peasant and urban movements on what is happening within the platform. He said: “It is key because it raises awareness that both workers and the peoples are being affected by different projects. We are all being exploited and impacted by megaprojects”.
He gave an example of how Brazil’s current energy model impacts on different sectors of the population. “Many workers die on the work sites of energy projects because of work accidents. There are poor working conditions and a lot of the work is outsourced. They do not respect the people’s. We estimated that nearly 250,000 people will be affected by energy projects in Brazil”.
The energy issue has been one of the most important items on Brazil’s political agenda in recent years. Projects like the Belo Monte dam in Pará state, or the discovery of important oil reserves in the so called pre-salt areas are part of the debate about energy sovereignty that is currently being pushed forward by social movements.
One of the main goals of the demonstration was to expose the increasing energy privatization in Brazil. “We are marching today against the 12th round of auctions of the National Oil Agency. These auctions have enabled the advance of the private sector on Brazilian oil and gas. Of the ten main companies that produced oil in Brazil in 2012, nine were private and eight were foreign”.
Moraes believes that “when the foreign sector produces oil and gas it is interested in getting profit easily, not in defending the peoples’ interests or respecting the workers and the environment”.
At the closing of the march, the MAB leaders and the Peasant and Workers Platform for Energy demanded the immediate drafting of a policy to defend the rights of the people affected by dams and the creation of a fund for the recovery and development of the communities affected by dams.
MAB leader Robson Formica ended the rally by affirming the social movement’s commitment to continue fighting for a popular energy project in the country.
Photos: Rafael Stédile /RWR/Social Movements’ Communications Convergence
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