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Popular Protest | Remembering the Great Smoking Hole

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Source: Viomundo

2,000 youths demand punishment of Siemens and Alstom in PSDB

Source: Setor de Comunicação do Levante Popular da Juventude

by Igor Felippe

Nearly 2,000 members of Levante Popular da Juventude rural workers of  the Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens — Movement of Those Affected by Levees — (MAB) protested outside the headquarters of Siemens and Alstom, along the Marginal Tietê beltway in the São Paulo neighborhood of Lapa this Wednesday morning (September 4).

The two companies have been accused of creating a corrupt scheme in order to fix auctions in which contracts for public works, renovations and equipment supply for the city’s subway and commuter rail systems are awarded.

The scheme, which came to be known as the propinoduto tucano — “the bribe pipeline of the PSDB” — the companies rigged the results of the competition and, with the mediation of PSDB politicians, elevated the price of the services, increasing costs to the state relating to the laundering of money that was then funneled into the PSDB.

“We need to settle accounts with companies that corrupt the system, that remain invisible in all the corruption scandals.  Siemens andAlstom need to be investigated, as do politiccians of the PSDB. We cannot let the public suffer day after day from the lack of quality and scope of public transport, while foreign companies divert funds,” said LPJ leader Thiago Pará Wender.

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The protestors marched along the Marginal Tietê and staged protest actions in front of the companies.  “<…> With Toucans it is all corruption,” the youth chanted during the protest. Graffiti was sprayed on the front of the Alstom building calling it a “corrupt, corrupting company.”

The youths renamed Werner Siemens Street with the name January 12, 2007 Street — the date of the collapse of part of a project to expand the Metrô  Yellow Line, which left dozens of persons injured near the Pinheiros River. In front of Siemens headquarters, an homage to the seven killed in the accident was also held. The name of each victim was saluted by the protesters and a cross was erected for each of them in front of the German corporation.

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“These companies were responsible for the work on the Yellow Line and have blood on their hands with the death of these workers, who symbolize the lack of respect for the Brazilian people. Justice must be done, Until justice is done, there will be more popular hostility,” Pará promised.

MAB accuses Siemens and Alstom, which also work in the energy sector, are responsible for the construction work involving levees and are accused of forming a cartel to overbill the services. In 2006, the two were included in a prosecution by the the federal Secretary of Economic Law (SDE), an agency of the Ministry of Justice, based on an international cartel in in  between 1998 and 2006.

“The corrupters in the subway and levee construction projects have names: Alstom and Siemens. These companies sustain themselves using corrupt methods. Public funds should be spent on improving public transport in the rural areas and guaranteeing the rights of families affected by the building of dams.,” said Robson Formica of MAB.

The protest was featured on the front page of the government information agency EBC — individual protesters were interviewed and profiled. Otherwise, little to no independent coverage.