When Mining Takes Away an Entire Community’s Freedom of Movement

Vale obstructs the movement of an entire community, making it difficult to access hospitals, schools and markets. While holding a peaceful protest, local residents were intimidated by the mining company and the police.

Autora: Jucilene de Jesus Pires da Silva
Leia em português.

On March 20, 2024, at around 12:36 p.m., residents of the Campo de Perizes community held a peaceful protest to demand improvements in access to the community. At the moment, the only means of access to the community is via a road that is located in Vale’s area of responsibility. The Campo de Perizes community has constantly held meetings to discuss the poor condition of the road, trying for years to resolve the issue through dialog. Unable to reach a definitive solution, the community organized a peaceful protest in search of their rights.

The community is home to children with special needs, adults undergoing treatment for serious illnesses and elderly people with comorbidities (hypertension, diabetes), which makes it even more essential and urgent to have an accessible road for traffic in the event of an emergency.

As soon as the cars that were providing services in the area were blocked, a representative from Vale’s Corporate Relations department arrived at the scene to listen and try to resolve the claims. However, the representative tried to intimidate the residents, saying that the protest could be characterized as private imprisonment – even though the residents had not violated the mining company’s workers’ right to leave the site at any time.

Vale representative, accompanied by military police.

Then came the Community Relations Representative, Marília, who had already set up several meetings and agreed on various deadlines that were never met. When she contacted her superiors, she came up with the proposal to carry out the maintenance from April 6, claiming that Vale has a schedule and cannot deviate from it.

The representatives did not accept the date because it is a long time and because they need to go to and from hospitals, schools and markets every day to buy food. Within this timeframe, the community tends to have even worse access, due to the flow of large cars used to maintain the railroad.

After the date was set, RC Marília left the community. Then a police car arrived with officers Diogo and Costa, asking for our demands. We repeated what we had said to the Vale representatives, and Policeman Costa asked, “Is this access bad?” With irony. We showed some points and the policeman raised his voice to one of the protesters, abusing his authority and using verbal violence, as shown in the following video:

We said we would send the videos to the competent bodies and he called another vehicle with Lieutenant Lopes, responsible for the operation sector, where he introduced himself and tried to talk to everyone in a respectful and peaceful way. In dialogue, we agreed that the peaceful protest would continue until 5pm and that if Vale didn’t comply with the deadline imposed by the representatives, we would start demanding again.

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