“We have had many problems with the violations of the Duque de Caxias Master Plan, in the environmental or urban licensing processes. Whenever society denounces some irregularity, the government hides, claiming that it will not expose its employees in militia areas. The city hall of Duque de Caxias has authorized the banks of the Sarapuí and Iguaçu rivers to be used for the final destination of civil construction waste, even disregarding the permanent preservation area. The government turns a blind eye to any venture that advances into the area of environmental protection and archaeological sites. Only with the help of the Federal Public Ministry have we managed to contain the government’s hunger for destruction. The former mayor, even though he is officially removed from office, remains in charge of the prefecture”. Helenita Beserra’s report, a member of the Duque de Caxias Civil Society Articulation Forum, sounds like an outburst. After all, in a municipality that has a refinery, dozens of industries and borders part of the Guanabara Bay, care for the environment should be a priority in any public management.
Former mayor Washington Reis collects lawsuits. Last week, his conviction for environmental crimes and irregular subdivision was confirmed in the Federal Supreme Court in a complaint that had been processed since 2016. And it was this decision of the STF that made him unanimously ineligible in the TRE, as deputy on the ticket of the current governor Cláudio Castro ( PL), leader in polls of voting intentions in the state of Rio.
Reis, now under the Clean Record Law, was mayor of Duque de Caxias in two terms – 2005/2009 and 2017/2022, and has already served three terms as a state deputy and two as a federal one. Washington Reis was sentenced to seven years, two months and 15 days in prison, initially in a semi-open regime, in addition to a fine. The environmental crimes on which the complaint was based took place between 2001 and 2006 in the buffer zone of the Tinguá Biological Reserve, where an allotment would be built. The candidate’s defense says he will appeal the decision.
The current governor and candidate for reelection, Claúdio Castro (PL), announced this Friday (09) the federal deputy Vinicius Farah (União Brasil) as the new vice on his ticket.
Another subdivision: Campo do Bomba
The São Bento Environmental Protection Area (APA) was the first environmental protection area in the Baixada Fluminense, created in 1997. With 1,033.42 hectares, it extends to the Guanabara Bay, passing through a mangrove swamp. With a flooded stretch, which absorbs the floods of the Iguaçu and Sarapuí rivers, the area has archaeological sites and vegetation remaining from the Atlantic Forest. Environmentalists and residents denounce that the APA is under the control of militias. In 2012, an order from the MPF warned that new construction on public land is prohibited.
One location, called Campo do Bomba, was a floodplain that was part of the São Bento APA when it was removed from the APA, by decree, in 2006, during the first term of the then mayor Washington Reis (MDB). The area has been filled in and there is a plan to install a supply center on 17% of the land and the rest will be set aside for whatever the city wants.
For Júlio Araújo, the Attorney General who worked in the Baixada Fluminense between 2018 and 2021, there was an attempt to donate public land from Incra to build a private enterprise:
“The lack of studies, the accelerated processing of projects, their approval by municipal entities and this acceleration of the grounding is very serious. And finally, the social impact, the populations affected in the region with the increase in floods and floods represent a risk to the right to adequate housing, which would in fact affect this daily life. The Federal Public Ministry conducted public hearings, found that there was no environmental analysis and that the project was carried out in a very hasty way, in addition to not having any type of assignment of the land.” The prosecutor also said that “often the City of Caxias continues to act, despite judicial prohibitions.”
A Public Civil Action is in progress for the works at the site to be suspended
For the professor of Urban and Administrative Law at UFRJ, Alexandre Magalhães, there is a succession of facts with the personal participation of the mayor in irregular subdivisions and trampling in the municipality of Duque de Caxias. “Given the accumulation of situations and the very bad concept that he has already amassed before various authorities, judges, members of the Public Ministry, and some public defenders who have already formed a very negative conviction about him as a public person and there is always a risk that one day the house will collapse,” he said.
Adacto Ottoni, associate professor at the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), says that the main environmental problem in Duque de Caxias is the huge deficiency in the area of sanitation, of sanitary sewers. “It is one of the highly relevant aspects in the pollution of the rivers in the region, in the silting, in addition to irregular occupation and dispersed garbage. The city government has to prioritize this activity, it puts the health of the population at risk”.