Note of sorrow for the death of Mr. Edvar Dantas: Back to the beginning

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Monday, January 27, 2020
It is with great sorrow and regret that we give news of the death of Mr. Edvar Dantas Cardeal, age 76, in the early morning of Thursday, the 23rd, at the Octávio Mangabeira Specialized Hospital in Salvador – BA. He had been admitted to the ICU since December 18, 2019, due to pulmonary complications, caused by the pollution in Piquiá de Baixo, the community where he lived most of his life. (...) [
In the photo: Edvard Dantas and Mrs. Tida (current president of the Residents' Association). Rede Justiça nos Trilhos]

Edvard Dantas and Mrs. Tida.

It is with great sorrow and regret that we give news of the death of Mr. Edvar Dantas Cardeal, age 76, in the early morning of Thursday, the 23rd, at the Octávio Mangabeira Specialized Hospital in Salvador – BA. He had been admitted to the ICU since December 18, 2019, due to pulmonary complications, caused by the pollution in Piquiá de Baixo, the community where he lived most of his life. The community is located in Acailândia, MA. He spent 1 month and 5 days fighting for the right to live and see the Piquiá da Conquista Resettlement completed. The funeral and burial will be in Salvador – BA today, the 24th of January 2020.

Our organization, Justiça nos Trilhos (JnT), feels indignant to find that the death of Mr. Edvar, one of the first residents of Piquiá de Baixo, has a direct connection with the pollution of which he was also a victim. Since the beginning of industrial operations in the 1980s, with the Carajás Project by Vale S. A., the negative impacts suffered by the community are intense and visible to the naked eye. To this day, visiting the village awakens anguish and revolt in anyone due to the unworthy conditions to which residents are forced to live.

In 2005, Edvar Dantas, as president of the Piquiá de Baixo Residents' Association, was the author of a letter of struggle and love in defense of the community's well-being, which gave rise to the mobilization for resettlement. He saw this as the wiser solution in order for the community to get away from the center of the pollution caused by the nearby steel industry, with all the violations and disrespect for Human Rights involved.

That action of facing Vale S. A. and all the evils of a mining model against life will always be an example of bravery and wisdom. Mr. Edvar’s integrity and commitment to the community will remain in the memory of those who continue the struggle for a different reality, one free from the impacts of mining, which silently destroys lives every day.

All of us at JnT are grateful to Mr. Edvar for the authorship of the letter sent to then President Lula, explaining the situation in which the families of Piquiá de Baixo lived. We admired the wisdom he showed with the return of the letter, where directions were given as to which public bodies should be sought by the community.

We appreciate his strength and endurance all these years. We are grateful for the trust he showed when inviting JnT to join in his fight for life, health, decent housing and for the good of all. Mr. Edvar's fight is for Piquiá de Baixo, continues for full reparation, for punishment of the guilty, so that these crimes do not happen again and for making the dream of Piquiá da Conquista’s resettlement, a reality. Mr. Edvar's struggle reverberates in Açailândia, MA and worldwide.

Not only his blood relatives, but also the whole fighting family he built in Piquiá de Baixo and beyond will sadly miss Mr. Edvar. He became a martyr, a source of power and inspiration for the continuity of a story he started.

Piquiá, January, 23rd, 2020
Associação Comunitária dos Moradores de Pequiá
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Rede Justiça nos Trilhos]