Remembering the victims of the Brumadinho dam collapse – CIDSE

    Remembering the victims of the Brumadinho dam collapse

    This article was written by the communication team of the Episcopal Region of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (RENSER), Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. See also below an open letter co-signed by CIDSE expressing concerns about the shortcomings of the collective reparation process.

    Those affected by the Brumadinho dam collapse on 25 January 2019 ask for memory and justice in the III Pilgrimage for Integral Ecology to Brumadinho. 

    The crime committed by the mining company Vale S.A. in 2019 continues and is renewed every day. Brumadinho and the Paraopeba basin receive the III Pilgrimage for Integral Ecology between January 22 and 27, 2022, with the motto Memory and Justice. This year, the programme is divided into face-to-face and virtual actions, with the presence of national and international organizations. Organized by the Episcopal Region of Our Lady of Rosário (RENSER), of the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte, together with pastoral, social and social movements, Independent Technical Councils, NGOs, organized civil society entities and with the fundamental participation of those affected, the III Pilgrimage seeks to keep the truth alive and fight for justice for all the victims of this crime. 

    Being Pilgrims… 

    The Pilgrimage is coordinated by the Episcopal Region of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (RENSER), of the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte, in partnership with popular movements and people who defend human rights and nature in the face of the atrocities caused by the collapse of the Córrego do Feijão dam, in Brumadinho. It is not just an annual event. It is a constant collective process, which discusses and builds paths of life, especially from the cry of those affected and the land in the face of extractive models that violate human rights and kill communities and entire ecosystems. The first Pilgrimage took place in January 2020, with masses, ecumenical celebrations, walks and events. It was attended by affected communities, families of the fatalities, survivors, traditional peoples, and political and religious leaders. The 2nd Pilgrimage, held in the context of the pandemic, in 2021, included mass and virtual events, such as the exchange of video correspondence among those affected and the launching of the Affected People’s Pact.  

    To be a pilgrim is to walk with faith in the God of life and to fight for justice. It is about strengthening collective processes, generating solidarity among the communities of the Paraopeba basin. It is to choose a strong, coherent, combative and protagonist position against the oppression of Vale S.A. and the mining model that is being imposed in Brazil. Furthermore, to be a pilgrim is to long for and build transformation, to dream and structure another possible world, just and in solidarity, promoting a change in the crisis of civilization that humanity is experiencing, based on the values of the Gospel of Jesus. The concept of Integral Ecology was proposed by Francis in his Encyclical Laudato Si’. Here, we are invited to build a civilization in which we are all brothers and sisters, inhabitants of the Common Home, Mother Earth, Pachamama, as the indigenous peoples teach us. 

    In 2022, the III Pilgrimage for Integral Ecology to Brumadinho will take place from January 20 to 27, marking 3 years since the tragedy-crime.  

    JOIN US! Let’s go together for memory, justice and integral reparation. So that we do not forget what should never have happened and so that it never happens again. 

    The closeness of a Church that suffers with those affected by this crime. 

    It is impossible not to relieve the pain of the mud of January 25, 2019, especially now that mining waste has once again spilled over into the daily lives and hearts of the inhabitants of Brumadinho and the Paraopeba basin. It is important to remember that rain is not to blame for the flooding: the climatic emergency comes from the destruction of nature, mining, deforestation, pollution and the lack of adequate public policies for the use and occupation of the territory. The crime of dam breakage caused by Vale S.A. and Tuv Sud is renewed.  

    Three years later, after witnessing a mediatic and rights-infringing reparation, organized in a scheme that benefits many people and institutions, but not those affected, it is up to the population to clean up the mud that once again was dumped on their homes, crops, bodies and souls.  

    The III Pilgrimage for Integral Ecology to Brumadinho is the Church always present, at the side of the people, with faith, solidarity, denunciation and concrete action.  According to Bishop Vicente Ferreira

    “since the collapse of the Córrego do Feijão mine dam on January 25, 2019, the Episcopal Region of Nossa Senhora do Rosário – RENSER – has been working very hard, especially with the communities, families and people affected by this social and environmental crime of Vale that killed 272 people and destroyed an entire watershed. Here, in the Paraopeba Valley region, we have 12 parishes and almost 200 communities. This 2022, we had an extensive programme, but we had to reduce it because of the floods, once again – a sea of toxic sludge from mining waste reached our village – and also because of the pandemic. We postponed some activities, especially those that would have more public attendance.  

    For Memory, for Justice, for integral reparation, looking for the hope of our people for the construction of alternative proposals in the face of this predatory mining system. Every citizen has to take seriously what is happening to us, the climate emergency and social inequality and get to work, to influence in all spaces, in the circle of friends, at work, in the community”. 

    Tuesday, January 25 
    8 a.m. (Brasilia time) – Press conference 
    9 a.m. (Brasilia time) – Mass presided by Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, President of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil 
    Brazilian Bishops’ Conference (CNBB), and concelebrated by Archbishop Vicente Ferreira  
    10:30 a.m. (Brasilia time) – Walk to the Brumadinho signpost 
    11.00 am (Brasilia time) – Act with the Association of Families of Victims and Affected by the Dam Breakage of the Córrego do Feijão Dam Mine – AVABRUM 

    Thursday, January 27th 
    1 p.m. -2:30 p.m (Brasilia) / 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (Belgium) Online event: Certification industry: Part of the solution or part of the problem for HRDD? The case of the Brumadinho dam break livestreamed on YouTube Channel (EN/PT). Co-organised by ECCHR, CIDSE, KOO/DKA Austria, Cáritas Brasileira and Misereor.

    In an open letter sent to Brazilian authorities, CIDSE is also joining concerns regarding the shortcomings of the collective reparation process being implemented as a result of the dam collapse:

    Credit cover photo: RENSER Communication team

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