If you want to go quickly, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.
African proverb 

Vale’s Carajás Railway

Photo credit:
Justiça nos Trilhos

Diesel trains, each 400 cars long, come through towns nine times every twenty four hours, day and night. During the five minutes it takes for each train to pass by, no one can cross the tracks to the other side, the noise is deafening, and fatal accidents often occur because there is no warning that a train is approaching. Traveling 892 km from the world’s largest iron-ore mine in the Brazilian state of Pará to a port in Maranhão, the trains carry 130 million tons of iron ore each year. Vale, giant mining corporation and owner of the Carajás mine and railway, wants to raise that figure to 230 million tons, and has allocated 20% of its investment budget to construct a second railway next to the first, expand the port, and renovate their mine and mill.

However, in July 2012 a judge in Maranhão suspended the doubling of Vale’s Carajás Railway, granting protection measures through legal action by three entities: the Human Rights Society of Maranhão, the Indigenous Missionary Council, and the Black Culture Center of Maranhão. This effort was done in conjunction with the Justice on the Rails network in which our Sisters of Notre Dame in Sao Luis, Maranhão, participate. A single lawyer representing these three small NGOs was able to block Vale’s huge legal team by charging that licensing and environmental requirements had not been met. Free, prior and informed consent, a requirement of any project passing through indigenous lands, was not obtained. Now, public hearings must be held in all 27 districts affected by the Carajás railway project. Vale is appealing this ruling.

For more information, go to www.justicanostrilhos.org/ (in Portuguese)

(in English)

Related article:

Amazonian Awa

 Amazonian Awá Tribe Threatened by Plans of Railway Expansion


Photo credit: survivalinternational.org


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