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Piquiá de Baixo: outraged and in solidarity for not dying by steelworks!

"Your time is up, Açailândia Mayor!" This was the message that more than a thousand inhabitants of the Piquiá de Baixo neighborhood conveyed through two protests which took place on July 18th. The residents, indeed, do not want to die from pollution, and are hoping that politicians follow through with their responsibilities (to better understand the situation you could click here) .

The resettlement project of the neighborhood has already achieved the support of several entities in Brazil, and worldwide. Most of the financial resources needed have also already been guaranteed. Nevertheless, the small municipality in Northeastern Brazil has not done its part in carrying out the project. For these reasons, the people have decided to speak out.

On the morning of July 18th, protesters occupied the headquarters of the Açailândia Municipality, requesting a meeting with the mayor to hand over a list of demands (in addition to resettlement, they are demanding for water infrastructure in rural communities, cheaper public transport, education, and quality healthcare). After a few hours, the Municipality informed that it would not have any engineers on its staff that could carry out a technical evaluation of the project presented by the Inhabitants’ Association of Piquiá de Baixo several weeks ago. Neither the Mayor nor Deputy Mayor showed up during this announcement. Was this still just another way to postpone the problem?
Following this news, at 3:00 p.m. protesters decided to paralyze the BR222 highway, opposite of Exhibition Park, for about two hours. Even with this roadblock, authorities still did not attend.

The situation is now known internationally, so that the claims of this small Brazilian neighborhood, home to about 1,100 people, have been published by the Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Catholic Church (the site for the Justice on Rails Network scanned  the article).

At this point, it is difficult to predict how and when these protests will be over if the Mayor does nothing. Therefore, the Center for Defense of Life and Human Rights "Carmen Bascarán", the Parish of Santa Luzia Açailândia, and the Justice on Rails Network wrote an open letter  to express "extreme concern about the tense climate and social conflict that is growing in the city.” Or rather, the situation could soon get out of control if the authorities continue pretending that nothing happened.

Help the inhabitants of Piquiá de Baixo, demonstrate your indignation to the mayor of Açailândia, to the governor of Maranhão, and to the steel mills owned by Vale. Demand with us: "Piquiá: resettlement now!”


The Volunteer translator for housing rights without frontiers of IAI who has collaborated on the translation of this text was:

Amanda Bradshaw


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