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The International Day of Action against Dams, for Rivers, Water and Life will be celebrated on March 14th. One of the main actors in this struggle, the Movement of Dam-Affected People of Brazil (MAB) is planning actions in several states of the country from March 12-16.
Their goal is to say NO to dams due to their environmental, social and cultural impacts, among others, rejecting the privatization of the energy sector and denouncing the high costs of electricity for the Brazilian people.
Real World Radio interviewed MAB activist Ricardo Montagner to talk about the mobilizations that will take place at national level and especially about the struggle against Garabi and Panambi power plants in Rio Grade do Sul state.
“According to the World Commission on Dams (organization linked to the United Nations) around 80 million people have been displaced directly or indirectly because of the buildings of dams in the world”,
reads a press release issued by the MAB a few days ago.
The demonstrations to take place next week will demand solutions to the “huge social and environmental debts caused by the already-built dams” and will seek to strengthen the struggle for another energy model. “Our task is to strengthen the resistance and build a new energy model and a new model of society”, reads the press release.
The MAB warned that “in the past years we observed the advance of large national and transnational companies in the control of natural resources, minerals, water, seeds, food, oil and electric power”. “All these natural resources have been turned into commodities and are exploited by all sectors of the industry that consume large amounts of energy”, he explained.
With reference to the current crisis of capitalism, that shows the “unsustainability of the current production and consumption model” “the MAB considers that the building of a new development paradigm, focused on the search for dignified living conditions for the working class, peasants, fisherfolk, afro-descendants and indigenous people is urgently needed”.
In the interview with Real World Radio, Montagner said that large hydroelectric projects do not generate development conditions for the local, farmer or urban populations, which goes against the argument used by the promoters of these projects. He regretted the thousands of families who are displaced by dams without compensation. Their rights are directly undermined, he said, in benefit of the large Brazilian and transnational companies.
One of the main issues to be raised by the MAB on March 14th is the demand for a new energy model for Brazil. “We defend the control of electric power in the hands of the State”, said Montagner, “so that the State doesn’t grant concessions to private companies”. The other central issue for the MAB is the defense of the struggles of the people affected by dams, because those power plants are not benefitting local communities.
The idea is to build the Garabi-Panambi hydroelectric complex on Uruguay River, between Brazil and Argentina. They would be two binational dams, but the MAB rejected the project from the start.
According to Montagner, there is a strong resistance both in Argentina and Brazil, although there has not been a joint struggle by groups of both countries yet.
According to information provided by the leader, 90,000 hectares of land could be flooded in an area of forests and environmental preservation, and over 30,000 people from the countryside and the city would be affected. Montagner, the coordinator in Rio Grande do Sul of the struggle against Garabi and Panami said that “there is no space of dialogue with the Brazilian or Argentinian governments”. “The population was left outside the process and is considered a nuisance”, he regretted.
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