The social impacts of regional development policies in Eastern Amazonia : a case study of Parauapebas
This dissertation analyses the adverse urban social impacts generated by regional development policies in Eastern Amazonia and illustrated by the town of Parauapebas. After the military coup of 1964, Brazilian Amazonia became the centre of attention for development planning. Due to its tremendous potential of natural resources as well as its vast areas of uninhabited land, this region was regarded by military governments as a means of rapidly tackling a range of economic, social and geopolitical objectives. In this regard, several development programmes, such as the Greater Carajas Programme (PGC), were planned and implemented by the Federal government. Brazilian development policies were heavily influenced by Perroux's development pole theory, which suggested that economic growth, interregional equilibrium and integration of backward regions could be achieved through a strategy of decentralised development. This basic idea provided a convenient theoretical justification not only for economic reasons (accelerated economic growth), but also in terms of the geopolitical objectives (national integration and occupation of Amazonia) of the military regime. Development pole strategies were vigorously implemented by the Federal government through the PND II - Second National Development Plan (1975/79) - and these strategies continued with the advent of the PGC in the 1980s. In order to exploit the huge iron-ore reserves at Carajes mountain, the Carajas Iron-Ore Project was established. CVRD was aware that this project would attract a considerable flow of migrants to the region and Parauapebas was built with the clear purpose of avoiding the formation an enormous shanty town at the company's entrance gate. Despite planning Parauapebas, however, CVRD could not avoid the formation of Rio Verde, a peripheral settlement contiguous to the planned town. CVRD's under-estimation of the pace of urbanisation, its decision to force service workers to live outside the company town allied to the substantial flow of migrants contributed to producing a serious situation in which the Parauapebas/Rio Verde region presented inadequate urban infrastructure and services; a critical nosological table and worrying problems in the educational sector. However, the above factors are unable to explain entirely the worrying situation in Parauapebas. In fact, these problems are a direct product of development pole strategies, which advocated that the concentration of investments in selected poles would generate economic growth, which would in turn "trickle down" to peripheral regions. Investments were made, but the beneficial spread effects in Parauapebas fell below expectations and the main reason for this lies in the fact that the ferrous-alloy industries were not implemented as originally envisaged by the PGC. As a consequence, the lack of option for diversifying the local economy is considerable. This dissertation analyses in detail the major social and environmental impacts of rapidly urban development in Parauapebas. It shows that development strategies in Eastern Amazonia have had limited positive effects and that the exploitation of the natural resources of the region has occurred in a predatory way and at the same time, it stresses that old projects and future undertakings in the region must be compatible with the environment. In this regard, this dissertation concludes with the discussion of policy implications for more sustainable policy for Eastern Amazonia.