Environmental and Cultural Activism / News    (This section in honor of James Cameron) > Indigenous Peoples and Cultures

Belo Monte Dam in Brazil - WITH UPDATES

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Toruk Makto:


Contact the Brazilian Embassy to Stop the Belo Monte Dam!

The Brazilian government is pushing through plans to build the massive Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon. The dam would devastate an extensive area of the Amazon rainforest and threaten the survival of thousands of indigenous and traditional peoples who depend on the Xingu River for their livelihoods. Construction could begin this year.

The project has met with massive opposition both domestically and internationally. Indigenous people have not been adequately consulted about the project and are concerned that their rights will be violated if the project goes forward as planned. The project will directly affect two indigenous reserves along the Big Bend of the Xingu, and will indirectly affect indigenous reserves throughout the Xingu Basin.

Please call the Brazilian Embassy today and express your concern about the government's support for the Belo Monte Dam and its impact on indigenous people.

If you are in the US, please call (202) 238-2805 and/or (202) 238-2712. You can also fax a letter to (202) 238-2827.

UPDATE: As of 11am on April 20th, the US Embassy had blocked calls to the first number listed above, and they are now hanging up on people who call the second number. Please continue calling both numbers, and then go to the website URL at the top of this post and fill out the form to send an email to the US Embassy.

If you are outside the US, please use this website to find your nearest embassy.

When you call, please tell them:

   1. That you are concerned about blatant violations of indigenous peoples' rights that would occur if Belo Monte Dam was built;
   2. That you are concerned about the project's impacts on the Xingu River and the life it supports; and
   3. That you would like President Lula to cancel Belo Monte Dam and seek better alternatives for meeting Brazil's energy needs.

Toruk Makto:

EDITOR: This is the dam that James Cameron went to Brazil to campaign against.

Press Release
Amazon Watch, International Rivers, COIAB, Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre

Letícia Campos
, COIAB: +55 61-9949-6926
Verena Glass, Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre: +55 11-9853-9950
Brent Millikan, International Rivers: +55 61-8153-7009
Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch: +1 510-666-7565

Indigenous Encampment Planned on Xingu River

Hundreds to Converge in Altamira to Highlight Threats of Proposed Belo Monte Dam
Members of the Press Invited to Attend

Altamira, Brazil - Hundreds of Brazilian indigenous leaders from the Amazon Basin will be joined by local riverbank dwellers and dam-affected people to participate in a regional meeting of the Terra Livre Encampment, in Altamira, Pará, from August 9-12. Organized by the Amazonian Indigenous Organization COIAB, and supported by a coalition of Brazilian and international organizations, participants will occupy the riverside port of Altamira and discuss threats posed by major infrastructure projects in the Amazon, in particular the controversial Belo Monte Dam. The meeting will end with a public rally in Altamira on August 12.

Named "In Defense of the Xingu: Against Belo Monte!", the Encampment is expected to be a seminal meeting for the indigenous resistance to Belo Monte Dam. Five hundred indigenous leaders from the Amazon Basin will meet together with local communities and leading Brazilian academics to discuss large infrastructure projects; the struggles of Brazilian indigenous and social movements in response; and issues around the demarcation of indigenous territories. Choosing to hold the summit in Altamira, a city that would be partially flooded by the planned Belo Monte Dam, brings the dam project and the Brazilian government's Accelerated Growth Program (PAC) to the forefront of the battle for indigenous rights and for a more ecologically sound development path.

The four-day meeting will feature presentations by indigenous and grassroots leaders, experts, as well as human rights and environmental lawyers. At the completion of the meeting, participants will draft a declaration to present at the National Terra Livre Encampment being held at Campo Grande, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, from August 16-20, 2010. The declaration will also be presented at a press conference between 8am and 12 noon on Thursday, August 12, followed by a public rally in Altamira.

Toruk Makto:

Amazon Watch, International Rivers, COIAB, Cimi, Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre

Letícia Campos, COIAB: +55 61-9949-6926
Paul Wolters, Cimi: +55 61-1650-1666
Verena Glass, Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre: +55 11-9853-9950
Brent Millikan, International Rivers: +55 61-8153-7009
Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch: +1 510-666-7565

Indigenous and Social Leaders Gather in Defense of the Xingu River, August 9-12
   Participants Affirm "The fight is not only against Belo Monte!"

Altamira, Brazil – At the second day of the gathering "In Defense of the Xingu: Against Belo Monte!", impassioned, steadfast speeches were given amidst colorful feather head dresses, and painted bodies and faces. Roughly 500 participants – indigenous people and riverbank dwellers, local farmers and social leaders – are meeting to discuss the grave environmental and social impacts of large infrastructure projects by the Brazilian government.

Specialists discussed their analysis of major developments in the Brazilian Amazon, such as the hydroelectric Belo Monte and Jirau dams; and the construction of highways, like the trans-Amazonian 163 linking Cuiabá (MT) to Santarem (PA).

The first round of discussions was chaired by Marcos Apurinã, the Executive Director of the Alliance of Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB); with the participation of professors from the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), Hermes Fonseca de Medeiros and Jose Herrera; along with William Carvalho, of the Federation of Organizations for Social and Educational Assistance (FASE).

As Professor De Medeiros noted, "Although it is impossible to measure fully the real impact of large projects like Belo Monte, it is important to be clear about what we're talking about. Thousands of families will become homeless. They will go without the natural resources that guarantee their survival, most importantly water. We must ask for public support to stop these aggressions against the environment and the traditional cultures of these people."

Human Rights Violations

In every speech participants underscored one vital point: the fight is not only against Belo Monte, which the government has insisted on building for over 30 years. The fight is against any state project that does not respect human rights. "When the government announces it will undertake large infrastructural projects, it is not thinking about what is best for the people. It is serving big business, big capital," said Moises Ribeiro of the Movement of Dam-Affected Peoples (MAB).

"The government has money to build its huge projects," Ribeiro continued. Therefore, its claims that there is no money to invest in public health, better living conditions for river dwellers or education for the indigenous, are simply inexcusable.

Reckless Spending

William Carvalho agrees with Ribeiro. "The government gives billions of reais to contractors, while many indigenous people die of hunger and a lack of health care and sanitation. Our campaign, therefore, is not only against Belo Monte, it is broader and more definitive. It is a campaign that urges public opinion to denounce the damage the federal government is planning to inflict on Brazil, against the Amazon and against the Brazilian people."

Indigenous Indignation

After comments by panelists, participants had the opportunity to speak out for themselves. For Kretã Kainging, leader of the Kaingang people and the Voice of Indigenous Peoples of the South (Arpinsul), Belo Monte is business as usual. A crime against the indigenous of Brazil, Belo Monte is like other projects already completed by the state, such as the construction of the Itaipu binational hydroelectric plant, built along the border between Brazil and Paraguay. "What kind of progress does the government want for us? We strongly believed in this government. They wanted to get in power and they did. They wanted to pass laws and did so, as well. Many of these same laws, however, go against the rights of indigenous peoples. Many of us put these people in power, and now they turn against us," Kainging stated.

For Marcos Apurinã, the major concern is who will maintain the traditions of indigenous peoples. "Money is not worth more than nature, than our traditions! So I would say to all indigenous people, we will not sell our blood – our children – for big business. We will fight. We will never give up!"

Rises in Crime and Prostitution

José Luiz of South Rondônia added that the damage caused by hydroelectric dams does not only affect the indigenous, but society in general. "Social, economic and cultural damage goes hand-in-hand with construction. Look at the state of Rondônia and you readily see the increase in violence and prostitution. Altamira runs a great risk of following in Rondônia's footsteps. And we cannot allow that to happen."

Thank you.

Robert Nantangä Tirea:
Nice to see this posted here, I've actually been watching/reading about this for quite some time now. Really wish the government wasn't so financially corruptable down there. At least their judicial system stopped the sale of the building rights temporarily but there's just too much against the indigenous people there and not enough for them.


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