Defending the Amazon Against Destructive Dams
In July, our partner, the Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (Movement of People Affected by Dams, MAB) led two regional and international meetings to share lessons, to coordinate struggles, and most of all, to collectively heal.
“How can you measure the problems that afflict those affected people? How can you measure the value of the loss of loved ones, of the loves of life, or of life itself?” asked Iury Paulino, a member of MAB’s national coordination committee, at the 2nd Meeting of Affected of the Amazon Rainforest.
His family had built a secure, comfortable life as farmers. But the construction of the Castanhão Dam displaced them from their productive rural land and drove them into the city. After that, they suffered so many hardships that Iury’s grandparents fell into a deep depression and passed away.
The many MAB feminists who participated also spoke about their struggles as women in their communities. Daiane Lima, a teacher in Godofredo Viana, Maranhão, described how a burst tailings dam from a gold mine had contaminated her community’s groundwater with toxic metals.
That’s why MAB and other movements in Brazil are backing a bill to finally codify human rights for families like Iury’s and Daiane’s — to prevent future tragedies at the hands of dam companies.
A CRUCIAL SPACE FOR COLLABORATION
The meetings took place as movements from across Latin America converged in Belém do Pará, Brazil for the 10th Pan-Amazonian Social Forum (FOSPA). Activists from peasant, Indigenous, feminist, and labor movements represented groups from Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
For 20 years, FOSPA has provided crucial spaces for continental collaboration to protect the Amazon river and rainforest and strengthen social movements. Stopping climate change is impossible without stopping the destruction of the Amazon. So FOSPA seeks to uplift the experiences of communities in the Amazon basin as they fight for an alternative to destructive resource extraction.
Related to FOSPA’s regional focus, MAB helped organize the First Meeting of People Affected from Pan-Amazonian Countries. This brought together similar movements of people affected by dams from Peru, Bolivia, and elsewhere. Movimiento de Afectados por Represas en Latinoamerica (Movement of People Affected by Dams of Latin America, MAR) also launched the second issue of their magazine, enMARcha, during the conference.
We know how important these regional and international spaces are. That’s why we contributed $30,000 to support MAB in bringing delegates from across the region to FOSPA. As movements fight for the future of the Amazon basin, they are fighting for the future of all of us.
Below, check out photos from FOSPA provided by MAB.