Indigenous People Fight Amazon Dam

Activists say mega-projects in the Amazon often confront indigenous communities with disease, loss of food and clean water sources, cultural disintegration and human rights abuses [GALLO/GETTY]


via Tensions escalate over Amazon mega dam – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

In early March, while boisterous Carnival celebrations filled the streets of Rio de Janiero, bulldozers began clearing away Amazonian jungle for roads leading to the construction site of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in northeast Brazil.

The dam, roads, and lakes will destroy over 100,000 acres of land, and bring more people into the forest.  Indigenous people are fighting to prevent the destruction of their way of life.

Plans for the Belo Monte dam began in the 1980s under a military government, but its construction was delayed largely due to environmental concerns and resistance from activists.

Now, three months after new president Dilma Rousseff has taken office, the stand-off has escalated.  People familiar with President Rousseff say they are not surprised by her move to put the economy before the environment.

Gustavo Faleiros, a Brazilian environmental journalist and editor, said that even going back to the days when Rousseff held the position of minister of mining and energy under the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration, she was seen “as a leader with an old-fashioned view of development”. This view prioritised economic growth over environmental concerns.

Economic development will not help the situation of the farmers and fishermen who depend on the Amazon and its tributaries for their sustenance.

“By pushing forward with this dam, the Dilma government is trampling on our rights. This is not just about defending the Xingu River, it’s about the health of the Amazon rainforest and our planet.”

Sheyla Juruna,  indigenous leader 



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