how to write about a disaster that killed more than 230 people, while over 30 are still missing? words don’t cover the tragedy of missing members in each household, the polluted environment and its current and future social, economical and environmental challenges for the communities along the rio doce. the rupture of vale’s tailing dam at the córrego do feijão mine in january this year resulted in a toxic tsunami that razed everything to the ground. 5 months after the tragedy, during my visit in june, vegetation is slowly taking over. while the area is very silent, the atmosphere is dense. fences protecting the site initially from visitors seem to enclose an omnipresent void.
after the tragedy global investors pulled away from mining giant vale. while bodies are still being recovered as recently on july 5, vale has induced programs on repair and removal of the remaining tailing dam, water treatment and filtration and job generation. according to a congressional commission in december last year 700 similar tailing dams in brazil are at ‘high risk,’ a problem that is spread around the world.
aside the legal, environmental and economical consequences, one pondering question is about the population. how does a community cope with the erasure of an entire neighbourhood? what kind of initiatives are being offered for each individual to address hers/his trauma? could the arts engage the community in at least one act of healing, recovery and self-empowerment? read my interview with artist thais mol, one of the organisers of casabrancafest here >>