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COP28: protest against Brazilian miner Vale’s ‘demagogy’

People's activists disrupt government-mining company presentation

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Main Image: Luciana Souza [left] interrupted the panel at COP to confront representatives of the Brazilian government and mining company Vale. – Image: social media

This article is reproduced from Brasil de Fato. You can read the original here, or in Portuguese here.


On Monday 4 December, three people’s activists interrupted a panel at COP28 with representatives of the Brazilian government and mining company Vale. The company is responsible for the disasters of Mariana and Brumadinho, both in Minas Gerais state, which caused 300 deaths and affected over 350,000 people. 

In front of dozens of people, Black and Indigenous leaders paralyzed the climate panel discussion. A video was recorded and published on social media platforms. 

“You talk about energy transition and preserving the planet, but you are the ones extinguishing lives and threatening our territory. You have not even listened to the people who are here,” said Thiago Guarani, from the Jaraguá Indigenous Land in São Paulo.

 

The representative of Vale on the COP28 panel was Ludmila Nascimento, director of Energy and Decarbonization of the mining company. The mediator was Thiago Barral, National Secretary of Brazil’s Energy Transition and Planning at the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Other NGOs and institutions also participated, but without direct representatives from traditional and Indigenous populations from different biomes. 

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Luciana Souza, from the Black Voices Network on Climate, demanded an answer from Vale’s representative about the devastation in the Doce River Basin. “Please, Ludmila, at least make a sad face because your facial expression is mocking our pain,” she said. 

In 2015, the Fundão dam burst in Minas Gerais state, releasing 50 million tons of toxic mud that devastated everything and everybody on the way until arriving at Espírito Santo state, where the poison destroyed artisanal fishing. 

“I’m from Espírito Santo, from the Doce River channel. There are more than 1 million people affected and Vale has done nothing about it,” said Luciana Souza.

Panel discussed “plurality” without representatives of the people affected by dams

The panel protesters chose was “Brazil’s National Energy Transition Policy from different perspectives: public, private sector and civil society.” The event description says that the “plurality of agents” is the “key to reaching results”.

“We don’t want demagogy and hypocrisy. We want direct participation in the decision-making process. We don’t want to be consulted only as statistics or gain industrial or capitalist jobs. We want to live according to our history and perception of the land, with our ancestral technologies,” said Camila Aragão, from the Black Voices Network on Climate. 

Still in front of the crowd and the paralyzed speakers, another member of the Black Voices Network on Climate reaffirmed: “People are not a minority. We are diminished by the capitalist system. We are the majority. And, if democracy means people and that power emanates from the people, that is not what we are seeing at this COP,” said Luciana Souza.