Brazil's Socialist President Rousseff sends Security Forces to put down Amazon riots

Protests against dam, February 2011

Brazil's federal government on Friday authorized the presence of national security forces in the Amazon state of Rondonia after riots at the Jirau dam site halted construction on the 3,450-megawatt dam. reported that the government said in its official publication Friday that it was sending additional police to the region to ensure public order. The additional police presence will last 30 days and can be renewed.

Protesting workers at the Jirau dam have set fire to buses and damaged part of the worker housing at the site, according to press reports. Jirau is being built by Energia Sustentavel do Brasil, a group comprising France's GDF Suez SA (GSZ.FR), Brazilian construction company Camargo Correa and Brazil's state-controlled utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras (EBR, ELET6.BR), or Eletrobras.

Workers have complained about wages and abuse by security officials at the site, according to press reports.

According to the Estado news agency, the riots led the companies to remove remaining workers from the site and halt construction on the dam. The Jirau dam was set to begin operations in March 2012. The halt in construction could push back that date, Energia Sustentavel President Victor Paranhos told Estado....

Camargo Correa' press official said that the company is still evaluating damages at the site and will continue to pay workers until they return to work.

Samotnaf note:
This seems like a small but interesting development, parallel to the opposition by the victims of this barrage - the tribes in the photo here. And worth giving it more publicity than, as far as I know, it seems to have had.

Sting and Bianca Jagger have been desperate to be seen smiling at the side of the tribes in the above photo, who are going be displaced and have their livelihoods seriously disrupted as a result of this destructive project; these ethnic Indians are so photogenic and celebrities like them hope a bit of authentic colour will rub off on them and make them look a little less grey than normal. But one doubts if they'd be so keen to associate themselves with the previously mentioned form of opposition to this plan - proletarians in boiler suits don't look so chic.


Baderneiro Miseravel
Mar 21 2011 20:49

It has been very hard to find useful information about this very interesting event, but I managed to glean this off. It is a report based mainly on the opinion of an union steward that "represents" the workers in the sites. The piece sort of speaks for itself. I apologize in advance for the sloppy translation, but I have zero experience in translating to english. The boldings are mine.


The STICCERO (Construction Industry Workers Union), through it's vice-president, Donizete Oliveira, in an interview given to the electronic newspaper Rondoniadinamica, came to express the motives for which the workers in the Jirau's Usina working site started a revolt that, last week, destroyed vehicles, working housing sites and put Rondonia in the national media by it's great repercussions.

Donizete tells that the company gave “professionalizing” courses, a battery of exams (among which of the psycho-technic nature) for workers applying for promotion. Those who participated in this list of activities promoted by Carmargo Correa were around two thousand workers. The activities lasted about 90 days.

At the end of the whole process, when the classification for places and promotiosn was to come, the company cut it off. It also cut off 100% of the extra-hours ( working hours beyond what the contract requires that receive extra pay), which is, according to Donizete, horrible for the worker.

“ - For those who came here to work and live in the housing sites, extra-hours is a priority”, he said.

Another point is transportation: Camargo Correia has been cutting off the workers' transportation services and keeping them locked in the working site.

There are also four thousand workers who came from their regions by their own and the company does not adopt the family-visiting system for these workers, (the system) which is a norm created by Camargo Correa itself. With that, some workers end up staying over a year inside the working site and can only see his family again during vacation. This has been causing distress, discomfort and depression for workers, because exclusively working for a whole year without seeing anyone you know is really hard. The devolution of the money spent by workers during the family-visits has not been happening in most cases. The company has been losing, or “says” it lost the workers' required documentation.

Main point: PLR (Participation in profits and results). Each worker was meant to receive each semester about R$700,00. This payment was meant to have been done in november of 2010, which didn't happen. The company claimed that the working site had not been profitable. At the same time, it is put up on radio and television that the construction are actually ahead of schedule by a year's time. This shows that the company is actually profiting with the service given by the Jirau workers, and that there is no abnormality within this context. There are other management issues that have been punishing the worker in his daily life.


Donizete claims that the company responsible for the construction site publically said that the union wasn't there to help in the negotiation and to calm down the workers during the protests. However, the vice-president of STICCERo, alongside another director, Edson Silva, were present in the working site and couldn't get to the houses. According to them, the Police forbid their entrance, because the situation was supposedy “under control” and no intervention from the outside would be allowed.


The vice-president of STICCERO explains why the workers burned the housing sites. For Donizete, until the second day it was all under control until the PM (Military Police) invaded the meal hall during breakfast and arrested one of the workers. From then on, the workers rebelled against the prison and then, what happened happened.

Other than that, other reports say that there is evidence of various human rights violation in regards to the treatment of workers in this industry, over-exploitation with unpaid hours and intensification of work.

Naturally, the Worker's Party (that's the actual name, rather than "Socialist Party") has been happy to offer police support for the governor of the place and the company against those workers who stand against the progress of our country.

Will be looking for more information and trying to build up some actual analysis.

Mar 21 2011 21:32

Certainly puts it all in (really horrible) context: thanks for that. Very interesting.

Mar 22 2011 05:31

Photo ( of buses burning) from the riot.

Admin: how do i upload a photo?

Mar 28 2011 23:59

Yeah, it's hard to see some decent info on the subject.

A video of the burning is here. It was huge.

Joseph Kay
Mar 29 2011 00:13
Samotnaf wrote:
Admin: how do i upload a photo?

the easiest way is to upload it onto an external site like

you can post it into the body of a forum post by clicking the grey 'image' button and pasting the url of the image into the pop-up box. in this case the image is already online so you can just use that image URL (quote this post to see the bbcode):

Mar 29 2011 08:38

Thanks for that - at long last I can litter my posts with pictures (someone did tell me how, but I forgot to keep a note of it).

Sep 30 2011 05:47

Brazilian judge orders construction of Amazon dam to stop
Not the same dam project, but maybe it'll effect other projects in Brazil. Anybody know anything more? (maybe Baderneiro Miseravel ?)

Sep 30 2011 16:38

Interesting but exactly how do people see the relationship between indiginous protests against these kind of damaging infrastructure projects (as also in Bolivia just recently) and struggles by the workers involved in building them - tricky?