“I saw a lot of people from Samarco (the mining company) arriving in shock at the bar where I work, close to the dam. I felt helpless when a man told me he had seen his friends dying. My brother was really close to the dam. They tried to hide it from us, but I later found out that he was one of the first people hit by the mud. He was doing some maintenance and, when he heard the noise, someone was still able to warn him through the radio: “Run, Mateus. The dam has collapsed!”. He only answered “ok”, and nobody heard from him again.
I see the media saying that it will take years for the environment to recover, but I think we are the biggest victims, because a life can’t be brought back.
Samarco only showed up here a week later. They asked if we needed something. I said that wee needed psychological help for my mother and my nephew, who is only a five-year-old kid. A guy came, talked to him and then nobody came any more. Samarcos must be thinking the employees don’t have families, but my brother does.”
The river has always been present in the life of the Krenak tribe, with fishing, our culture, our religion. The river is our altar, a source of life, it gives us fish, water, and is part of our History, our music. It gives us strength in our rituals.
The Krenak people has been here since before the arrival of the invaders, in 1500. We’ve always been in this river banks.
"For me, this is all very sad, because I witnessed everything. I was in the top of a hill, at night, watching when the mud came destroying everything. I knew my house had been taken away. Everything my father had gathered in 51 years was taken at a sudden, in a matter of seconds. Television, pictures, money, documents, we lost it all. Pictures from our childhood, my father’s marriage, us growing up… this memories don’t exist anymore. There’s no money that can bring this back."
“We work during the whole week. The day we have to get water is today. I left home early, even had to put on a coat, so I could get some clean water. It is already the middle of the afternoon and I am still waiting. Where is this water? They’ve said the truck was coming from the capital since yesterday.
A church pastor gave me this gallon, but just because I’ve been complaining since the beginning of the day. And do you think I will go home now that I got it? No, I will go back to the line for more.”
“Governador Valadares is know for its river surfing. We wait the whole year for this wave. Unfortunatelly, it won’t happen again.
I started to kayak here in ’84 and we started the river surfing in ’89. Every season we invited more surfers to come and check it out. We are now in the middle of the season and I’m very anxious for not been able to surf. Without surfing, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Besides that, I sell, or used to sell, kayaks. I teach, or used to teach, canoeing. I don’t know what is going to happen. That was my business. I lived of it. I depended on this river.
CLEUNICE DOS SANTOS
The tragedy of 'Rio Doce' affected people in many different ways, from distruction and death in the districts of Mariana, to the economic, social and environmental disasters that followed the path of the mud all the way to Regência, 550 kilometers down the river. Meet some of the characters of the documentary and their stories.