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Victims of Brumadinho disaster call for settlement with Vale to be overturned

16 February, 2021Mining company Vale and the Minas Gerais state government have reached a settlement over the tragedy that took place two years ago in Brumadinho, Brazil. But affected communities say they were left out of the negotiations and are petitioning the Federal Supreme Court to overturn the agreement.

Photo credit: Jornalistas Livres and MAB.

In the settlement deal, Vale is required to pay compensation of 37.68 billion reais (US$7 billion) for the crime committed at Brumadinho. During the settlement hearing on 4 February, victims protested that they had been left out of negotiations and that the settlement had been reached without any information being made public.

On 10 February, the affected communities filed a petition with the Federal Supreme Court calling on it to overturn its approval of the settlement agreement signed by Vale and the Minas Gerais state government.

They say that those affected are entitled to be directly involved in negotiations on equal terms. In addition, the settlement does not achieve their main aim, which is to guarantee economic, social and environmental reparations for the collective moral and economic damage that was caused when Vale's tailings dam burst at the Córrego de Feijão mine.

The state governor Romeu Zema had assured them that all affected parties would be included in the process and that their voices would be heard. Yet the group filing the petition has said that the victims, their representatives and related committees had been left of negotiations on the settlement since October 2020.

While the state will receive close to 27 billion reais (US$5 billion), those affected will receive only 9 billion reais (US$1.6 billion), a difference they consider absurd. And the amount set aside for emergency aid payments is not enough to cover all communities affected, excluding some 20,000 people.

The Movement for Dam Victims, one of the organizations petitioning the court, has pointed out that the Brumadinho Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, which oversaw the Brumadinho settlement negotiations, was not informed of the terms of the agreement and could therefore not analyse the final settlement. The Committee recently held a meeting with victims and has said that it will schedule a public hearing with those affected and representatives from the Minas Gerais state government, the state department of justice, the public prosecutor's office and the ombudsman's office.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant secretary general, says:

"IndustriALL Global Union is extremely angry over the injustice for the victims of Brumadinho. No amount of money can alleviate the pain suffered by so many. We stand in solidarity with all those affected and will continue to fight until justice is served."