ONE REALITY, MANY TRUTHS
The complexity arising from the dam’s collapse has caused us to accept and experience the multiple views on issues like which actions are the most urgent and how they should be implemented. These opinions are often conflicting, yet they all represent aspects that should be considered in the Foundation’s efforts.
PAULA GERALDO ALVES
37 years of age, who warned a number of neighbors in Bento Rodrigues and saved many lives
“I TOOK OFF ON MY MOTORBIKE, BERENICE, TO WARN NEIGHBOURS”
When the dam collapsed I was in Samarco’s seedling nursery. I was a service provider. We heard some noises that seemed to come from an airplane or a helicopter, I’m not sure, a strange noise. Then somebody switched on the radio in the van and we started hearing people in panic shouting about the dam. I took off on my motorbike, Berenice, to warn neighbours in Bento. I didn’t know that my son João Pedro was at home. I drove down the streets shouting and sounding the horn. I ran out of gas but kept on running to warn everybody. Nobody questioned me, people simply left their homes to warn others. I had no idea that a tsunami of mud was heading for our area. I believed it to be water from the river that was flooding out, and that we would then return to clean our houses. It was not before I reached the higher part of the town that I realized the magnitude of the disaster. There I met my parents, my son and neighbours. Nobody could fall asleep. We were all vigilant for Bento that night.Watch the video
MILTON MANUEL DE SENA is part of the committee affected by the dam and is Editor-in-chief of the newspaper The Siren, which portrays the reality of the affected population.
“VICTIMS DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE FUNDAÇÃO RENOVA"
I am a member of the committee of victims and editor-in-chief of The Siren. The newspaper has this name owing to the siren that did not sound anywhere on the day of the collapse, in order to save lives. There is a movement here known as “a minute of siren” from the first few days following November 5, instead of “a minute of silence”. Think that Renova uses legal words and expressions very difficult for people to understand.
This makes dialogue difficult. Actually, everything that we obtained was through legal means and not through dialogue, as there is no confidence in this relationship. The victims do not acknowledge Renova Foundation, they do not accept the Foundation for negotiations. Samarco was the cause of everything. So it should liable for the entire proceedings, in the opinion of some. In my opinion, yes, the Foundation could be created but with participation and support by the victims. To us, the Foundation is not representative, though it has been legally created.
We were told when it was organized that negotiations would be made easier. But this is not what is happening. They are dealing with country people, people who greatly value honesty and the word of commitment. I work with all the communities and I see lot of pessimism in people regarding the future. There is the trauma of having lost everything, indifference and a high degree of discrimination in the town. The boys at school are known as muddy feet. In the beginning the welcoming was great. As time went by, people were blamed for Samarco having to stop its activities. There are groups in the town that encourage this prejudice. There are those who fear going to the market with their assistance cards, because they are discriminated against when they come to the payment counter. I believe that the most difficult part in this whole episode is not the resettlement, but what will happen in two, three years. My question is: will they be able to live in Mariana for this time?
MONIQUE RODRIGUES DOS SANTOS, 30 years old, belongs to the fishing colony of Mascarenhas, in Baixo Guandu (ES).
“MY DREAM IS TO GO FISHING AGAIN, BUT I DO NOT HAVE ANY HOPE"
I took up my father’s fisherman’s profession, just like other families. The community has always lived mainly from fishing. We never thought of living without the river, it never crossed our minds. The staff of ‘Dialogue’ [Renova Foundation] are always here, but the needs of the community are never resolved. Every time there is a different story. They always talk about the 40 projects for the recovery of the environment, but I do not see anyone solving anything. I think the Foundation should look more closely at people who have been affected, think about a project for people to deal with. Before, people had work and this was taken from them. My dream is to go back to fishing, but I do not have any hope. The river may even go back to what it was, but there will always be the question of whether the fish are contaminated or not.
RAIMUNDO FERNANDES, from Barra Longa, who is already beginning to see the Results of the work of the Renova Foundation.
“BARRA LONGA HAS IMPROVED TREMENDOUSLY AND IT WILL BE EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN BEFORE”
We were used to the occasional passage of floods, having lived here for 70 years. But that night the sky was starry, with no rain, so I couldn’t believe it when they said it was coming. in the middle of the night, I woke up to the strange noise and went to the bridge to see the mud wave approach. The area was soon bustling with activity. People from the Foundation have treated us very well. Things can sometimes take a while when not entirely within their control. Barra Longa has improved tremendously; the town square is a sight to see and will be even more beautiful than before” People from other parts comment about it. A little while back there was a procession through the streets and people’s eyes all turned from the relic to admire the town.
JOSÉ DO NASCIMENTO DE JESUS
71 years od, known as Zezim, a member of the Association of Residents of Bento Rodrigues and the Commission of the Affected by Dams
“I KNOW THAT I WILL RETURN TO MY PLACE”
I was wearing only my shorts, flip-flops and with my cell phone. We only saw the mud knocking down everything that it took us 30 years to build. I used to take care of chickens, cows, pigs, and the vegetable garden. And I used to play fiddle and guitar in the Trio Maravilha and in the church choir. I am retired, but I was raised in the country, without luxuries. I can’t wait for the new Bento to be built. It is scheduled for 2019, but something tells me that it will change in 2018. Things were slow because everything that depends on the government takes time. But after the community reached a consensus on the project, the child who was crawling will now walk. Most are like me, really anxious to return. Bento will be beautiful, with basic sanitation, education, a police station and town square with a bandstand. What is nice to know is that when you go out to walk you know that you will return to your lifelong home.
LEONARDO DEPTULSKI Chairman of the Doce River Basin Committee (CBH-Doce), during the workshop on fishing organized by the Renova Foundation.
“TODAY WE HAVE A PLAN THAT, IF STRICTLY ADHERED TO, CAN CHANGE THE CONDITIONS OF LIFE IN THE DOCE RIVER BASIN”
We are in need of immediate answers. Fishermen had their lives severely affected by the disaster and we need to think wholeheartedly of how to find livelihood alternatives during this time during which resuming fishing is not possible. I have always believed in the Conduct Adjustment Declaration as a better alternative to a lawsuit. We currently have a working plan for the next 15 years based on demands detected in the Doce river basin, thinking of remediation, compensation, mitigation. A plan with a beginning, middle and end, with social, environmental and economic steps, which if strictly complied with over the next 15 years, will change conditions of life not only along the Doce river but over the entire river Basin. We need to persist, we cannot give in after four or five years, so that we will effectively have a river much better than prior to the accident, as the basin was already very degraded.
co-founder of Instituto Terra, partner institution of the Renova Foundation for the regeneration of river springs.
“WE MAY BE POSSIBLY WORKING ON ONE OF THE PLANET’S LARGEST RIVERINE RECOVERY PROJECTS.”
The catastrophe was enormous and the Doce river valley was already very degraded, thus the expectations for the Renova Foundation were exceedingly high. It is our hope that in the near future there may be a faster recovery of the sources and riparian forests, filtering the tailings from the river and increasing the flow of water to flush its course, thus allowing the river’s environmental recovery. This is a long-term process that requires large scale. We may be possibly working on one of the planet’s largest water recovery projects. The experience in the Doce river valley may be employed in other regions in Brazil and throughout the world. With the resources and the mandate of the Renova Foundation, the capacity of the Instituto Terra to execute and with the collaboration of the rural owners, we can recover the valley of the Doce river in 20 to 30 years. It will be the beginning of a new life for the Doce River.
JOSÉ COELHO FARIA, farm owner from Paracatu who had his property affected by the mud.
“I NEVER HAD THE CHANCE TO CALL AND COMPLAIN, FOR THEY HAVE STEPPED AHEAD IN ORDER TO HEAR WHAT I HAD TO SAY.”
I had decided to live a farm owner life, was quite enthusiastic about it, and had actually hired a janitor to work here. But when the dam accident happened and the mud hit my property up to the front gate. I was very frustrated at the time, and thought of selling the property. Now I am excited again. I have resumed some of the works that had been interrupted. I would say that things are much better after Renova Foundation. All those issues I had complained about and that were stuck, suddenly started to be straightened out. I was about to file a complaint one of these days and then someone from Renova called asking me if I was having any issues with the works in my property. “I never had the chance to call and complain, for they have stepped ahead in order to hear what I had to say.