Tue. Mar 9th, 2021

JURUTI VELHO LAKE, Pará, Brazil — No one knew what a momentous day it would be. On 28 January, 2009, about 1,500 people blockaded the road linking the town of Juruti with a mine belonging to Alcoa, the giant U.S. transnational company. That protest was calculated to gain international attention by coinciding with the Fifth World Social Forum, a gathering of progressive civil society organizations which had opened in Belém, the Pará state capital, the day before. The Forum’s slogan: “Another world is possible,” interpreted by the Juruti occupiers as a bold call to direct action. “We knew the eyes of the world would be on Amazônia [that day], and there would be international repercussions if anything happened to us,” recalls Sister Nilma, a Franciscan nun and participant in the occupation, and also responsible for organizing contacts with the Forum. The protest proved decisive for the local communities that organized it, and also for mining in Juruti. Gênesis Costa, Alcoa’s current general manager in Juruti, diplomatically characterizes that community victory as “a moment of deepening our dialogue.” Gerdeonor Pereira, one of the occupation leaders, is more blunt: “It was the highpoint of our confrontation with the mining company.” Certainly relations were bad between Alcoa and the activists at the time: So bad that the company had recently gone to the courts to request a “prohibitory interdict” aimed at Pereira and three other leaders — a judicial action to protect a valuable asset threatened by dispossession. Alongside Pereira on the blockade…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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