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Friar Louis Cappio must live

by Cesar Benjamin Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007 at 4:50 AM

The Brazilian semi-arid is immense: 912 thousand square km. It is populous: 22 million people in rural areas. It is the most rainy of the planet: 750 mm / year, on average, which corresponds to 760 billion cubic meters of rainfall per year. It is not true, therefore, that there is no water there.

Friar Louis Cappio must live

Cesar Benjamin

I look for a book on the bookshelf at home. In the face sheet I read: "To Cesar, who also walks on the same side of the same river. Gentio do Ouro, October 2001. "From inside the book falls a card that was already forgotten:" Cesar, grateful for your unexpected softness, for your lucid and firm presence. Thank you for you there. I hug you. Adriano. "I can't contain my emotion.

Between 1992 and 1993, for a year, Adriano and three more people held a walk of 2,700 km, from the springs to the mouth of San Francisco river. The book, which they gave me when I visited them in the desert-From the mouth to the source, the message of the river, Nancy Mangabeira Unger-poetically tells the works of this group of heroes whose lives are confused with the struggle for life of the river and of populations that depend on it.

The leader of the pilgrims was a Franciscan friar, the most Franciscan of all Franciscans I knew, Luís Cappio. I don't remember where I met him the first time - I think it was at "Pintada" - but I never forgott him. He is a rare man. He lives deeply to Christianity, his mission. Today, he is the bishop of "Barra". Continued the same simple pilgrim, a brother of humanity, a poor living among the poor.

He is on hunger strike for more than 30 days and may die. Adriano remains at his side.

From Brasilia, President Lula criticizes brother Louis and his companions, contrary to the transposition of the waters of San Francisco river, saying they do not care about the thirst of the people of northeastern. To those who know the two characters, it is pathetic. A moral abyss separates them. From this abyss are born the two different proposals.

The Brazilian semi-arid is immense: 912 thousand square km. It is populous: 22 million people in rural areas. It is the most rainy of the planet: 750 mm / year, on average, which corresponds to 760 billion cubic meters of rainfall per year. It is not true, therefore, that there is no water there. The nature provides it, but it is wasted: the waters evaporate quickly, under the strong sun, or go soon away, running on the crystalline waterproof ground.

For decades the state invested in large and expensive works, which concentrate water and, with it, concentrated power. President Lula wants to do more of it. In the world of promises and of spectacle, where he lives, the transposition kills the thirst of the peolple of the region. In the real world, only 4% of the water will be given for human consumption, in an area equivalent to 6% of the semi-arid region. "It is the last big work of the "thirst's industry" and the first big of "hidrobusiness". A false solution to a false problem, "says Roberto Malvezzi, of the Pastoral Commission of Land.

Thanks to people like Cappio, Adriano and Malvezzi, the Semi-Arid Northeast experiences a slow cultural revolution. Hundreds of social organizations, supported by the Catholic Church and other churches, have adopted the concept of coexistence with nature and developed locally about forty smart techniques, cheap and efficient to store rain water. It is enough-it is almost 800 times the volume of water transposition, but falls concentrated in a short period of the year.

They are fighting for two main goals: "a million tanks" and "a land and two waters." Combined, the two projects aim to provide each family of Semi-Arid an area of land enough to live with dignity, a permanent source of water supply for human and a second source for agriculture production , according to the vocation of each microregion. The yet made experiences have magnificent results.

To offer it to the people of the region, we must undertake land reform and build a mesh of approximately 6.6 million small works: two tanks at the foot of the houses, for human consumption, an usual one and another of security; more 2.2 million of containers to hold water for agriculture use. Overall, it is a huge work, but devolved. The abstraction of water well performed, at the foot of the house and at the land, it is also the distribution of that water, which disassemble one of the most important bases of the power of local oligarchies. Kept in closed rooms, it does not evaporate. Pushed by thousands of people, this could be a project that mobilizes the energies of all society, emancipatory of region's people, if it had a decisive support from the federal government.

The proposal has technical backing of the National Agency for Water (ANA), which conducted a thorough diagnosis of 1,356 northeastern municipalities water, a brilliant work. The focus is the semi-arid region, but the diagnosis includes major cities such as Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza, covering a universe of 44 million people. The works proposed by the ANA, the churches and civil society entities solve the issue of water security of the people. They would cost $ 3.6 thousand million, half the cost of the initial transposition of San Francisco river.

That does not matter to agribusiness, an eater of large volumes of water on irrigated single cultures, producing fruit for export and cane to produce ethanol. It is for agribusiness and for some industrial groups - major donors to election campaigns - that the transposition is intended, because they need concentrated water. To region's people, increasingly, is left the option to migrate or to become day-workers.

To stop the march of folly, brother Luis delivers his life, the only good that he has. Was left him little choice, because the government has dodged the debate that has promised. Preferred bet on the "fact accomplished" policy. Now the farce could only proceed on the corpse of the bishop. President Lula has made it clear that he considers it an acceptable alternative. But before that terrible outcome, the president must meditate on the words of Paul Maldos, from the Indian Missionary Council, his traditional ally: "Around the radical gesture of the bishop is forming a chain of solidarity, of support, of alliances, ethical, political, social, ideological, identification whose contours are easily identifiable: it is political, human rights, social movements, social pastoral, personalities of the Catholic Church, politics, culture, which, since the year 80, made Lula as leader of the masses in our country. (...) If Louis Cappio dies, it will be the end of that story. There will be not only Cappio to die. The politics reference of Lula and the Workers Party in the history of social movements in Brazil will die too. (...) The history of popular leadership of Lula is the story of a failure. The physical death by Dom Cappio signalizes the political death of Lula. "

I supplicate that the president open dialogue quikcly, by generosity or by calculation: Friar Louis Cappio must live.

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