The leader of the movement”Mining is LEGAL“, Rodrigo Martins de Mello, aka Rodrigo Cataratas, received BRL 100,000 from the national executive of the Liberal Party (PL), the same party as President Jair Bolsonaro, for his campaign as a federal deputy in Roraima.
The candidate is one of the great defenders of mining and prospectors in Brazil. “We want the right to work, we want the right to mine. I, Rodrigo Cataratas, am a Garimpeiro”, introduces himself the candidate to the Federal Congress, in one of the many videos posted on their social networks.
The amount donated by the PL corresponds to 35.71% of the R$ 280 thousand officially declared by the candidate as campaign revenue, as stated in his partial rendering of accounts made to the Electoral Justice. Most of the money received comes from donations made by the candidate himself: R$ 170 thousand. Another R$ 10 thousand was passed on by his son, Celso Rodrigo de Mello.
Altogether, Rodrigo Cataratas declared campaign expenditures estimated at R$ 363 thousand. Most of them will be with their own company, Cataratas Poços Artesianos Ltda. The candidate rented a fleet of four company cars worth R$82,800.
Contacted by ((o))eco, Celso Rodrigo de Mello, son of Rodrigo Cataratas and hired for the service of financial administrator of the campaign, informed that the payment of the car rental of the family company will not be made with the money sent by the PL, whose origin is from public resources from the electoral fund, the “fundão”.
Celso Rodrigo is also his father’s partner at Cataratas Poços Artesianos.
Asked about the guarantees that the funds from the fund will not be used for this discharge, Celso informed that the resources are deposited in two different accounts: one with the one transferred by the PL and the other with private collections.
In his declaration of assets, presented to the Regional Electoral Court of Roraima, the leader of the mining movement said he had assets valued at R$33.5 million. In addition to financial investments and a 90% stake as a partner in Cataratas Poços Artesianos, which represents R$ 2 million. To the TRE, the PL candidate also claimed to own R$ 4 million in kind.
In the social networksin addition to photos with his co-religionist, the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, Rodrigo Cataratas defends miners who had equipment – including aircraft – destroyed by Ibama and PF operations inside indigenous lands.
In one of his posted videos, he takes a group of seven people to the Roraima government headquarters, in an attempt to meet with Governor Antônio Denarium (PP) to complain about these operations.
The objective was to charge the government to define whether the area where the operation had taken place was in fact owned by the Union or the State; the group was not received by Denarium. He shows some frustration that the meeting did not take place and ends the video: “Rodrigo Cataratas, general coordinator of the Garimpo é Legal movement”.
In another recording, in front of a Civil Police station, the candidate registered a police report after an aircraft was burned in an operation to combat illegal mining in the Amazon.
On May 14, the then pre-candidate for federal deputy for the PL marched through the streets of Boa Vista in defense of mining. The act was considered early campaign by the Electoral Court.
On July 5th, Governor Antônio Denarium signed into law the law that prohibits environmental and police agencies in the state from destroying the mining machinery seized in the operations. The project was authored by state deputy George Melo (Podemos), another legislator who dedicated his term to defending the mining activity in Roraima. In 2022, he also tries for a fourth term in the Legislative Assembly, as already recorded by the report of ((o))eco.
Mining in Indigenous Lands
One of Rodrigo Cataratas’ companies has already been indicted for participating in mining operations in the Yanomami Indigenous Land. According to Catarata’s declaration of assets to the TRE, among Rodrigo Catarata’s main assets is a fleet of nine helicopters.
In August 2021, Rodrigo Cataratas had six aircraft seized on suspicion of being used by miners to reach the Indigenous Land. The candidate managed to recover the aircraft, but in March, the Federal Police managed to a decision to hold three helicopters again. one of them was delivered to PF on September 9, after being arrested for supporting the Cataratas electoral campaign.
On August 15th, Rede Globo’s Fantástico, exhibited a report on the business life of the leader of the Garimpo é Legal movement. An inquiry by the Federal Police delegate, Celso Paiva, who investigates the logistics for mining in Terra Yanomami, also pointed out that Rodrigo Mello, through his companies, was part of a group that operated in the Reserve extracting ore for two years. According to the PF, between 2020 and 2021, the group would have moved more than BRL 200 million, said PF delegate Celso Paiva, responsible for the investigation against Rodrigo and people connected to him in an interview. to the Amazon Network.
This is the third time that Rodrigo Catarata has contested an election. In 2010 he ran for state deputy for the PRB, and in 2012 for councilor of Boa Vista for the PT do B; in both contests he was an alternate.
The businessman joined the PL in March this year, in a ceremony attended by former senator Romero Jucá (MDB) and Teresa Surita (MDB), former mayor of Boa Vista, who is running for the state government.
What does Rodrigo Cataratas say?
Asked by ((o))eco if the mandate will be dedicated to the defense of mining, Celso Rodrigo said yes, “but not just mining, my mandate is in defense of the Amazon”. “I defend Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon”. “The Amazon is not a world heritage site as Lula described in one of her interviews. And I will be a defender of President Jair M. Bolsonaro’s ideas in Roraima,” he replied in writing.
He still claimed to be a defender of the preservation of the Amazon Forest, but not in the way he classifies as imposed by foreigners. “We are a poor people, on top of the richest land in Brazil, maybe even in the world”. “There needs to be a balance. And the balance is working responsibly with our environment, opening doors and giving incentives to loggers, prospectors, fishermen, small producers, and agribusiness,” he said.
Regarding the involvement of his companies in mining within the Yanomami TI, Cataratas denied the accusations made by the MPF in Roraima. “The only mining activity I have in Roraima is on my property, in the municipality of Amajari, where I have a Garimpeira Mining Permit (PLG). Fully regularized and within the law”, he told ((o))eco.