Brumadinho: the anguish of collective grief

Brumadinho is a sad city. It is possible to feel the grief in the streets, in each casual conversation with its inhabitants who do not forget the day when Vale’s Bean Stream dam collapsed, changing everything. It is possible to feel it in the brown dust that covers the city and in the muddy colour of the Paraopeba River. They say that time heals everything, but the pain doesn’t seem to leave the small town in the interior of Minas Gerais so soon.

I was there exactly 6 months after the infamous 25th of January. For 4 days, I dived into suffering – and the mud – to try to understand what remains after the crime. What remains after no one talks about it anymore on the media. I found an entire community affected – at several levels. No relatives, no friends, no colleagues, no neighbours and no recognition of the place that was once theirs. In disbelief with the future and shaken by a past they couldn’t control.

It hurt in everything. 

It hurt my heart to see so many eyes covered with tears and so many people devastated by the absence that the tragedy left behind. It hurt me in my lungs to breathe that putrid smell of mud that still remains near the dam. It hurt my head and stomach to see how far human greed can go and how little life is worth in the face of a company’s profits. It hurt me somewhere deep in my soul to see the Paraopeba River dead and contaminated with ore. And it hurt every inch of my body, my mind and my spirit to watch a sick city without, in fact, being able to do anything to cure it but listen to its stories.

That’s why I scream. 

I scream for the lives that are gone and for the dreams that are interrupted. I scream against the barbaric act committed by Vale. I scream for the nature devastated by the years of mining. And I scream so that maybe this pain will diminish one day. 

My words are not enough for me to express everything that must be said about the collapse of the dam. But I share here all the voices I’ve heard there – the talks always joined by a “cafézin” at the houses of everyone who welcomed me with an open heart – so they can resonate with others. And have the same effect that they had on me. So they can serve as a message: there is no greed, there is no profit and there is no capital that is worth more than human life.

Published by Mira.Me Project

Written by Leila Maciel, a Brazilian girl who insists on calling the world her home. Escrito por Leila Maciel, uma Brasileira que insiste em chamar o mundo de casa. Instagram: @mirameproject

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