Sheyla Juruna Shares the Truth About Belo Monte at Events in NY, DC and SF
September 23, 2011 | Leila Salazar-Lopez
As global leaders gather in New York to give speeches about promoting world peace, creating jobs, reducing hunger and poverty and combating climate change, Sheyla Juruna, an indigenous woman leader from the Xingu Basin of the Brazilian Amazon, is there to tell the world how the highly controversial Belo Monte Dam is affecting the Amazon rainforest and indigenous communities like her own.
This week Sheyla also sent a letter to the president of Brazil, Dilma Roussef. In it she demands that her government, "immediately suspend the construction of Belo Monte and open dialogue with indigenous peoples before it is to late." She goes on to explain that, "We are witnessing increasing violence, prostitution, agrarian conflicts, deforestation, and death threats for indigenous leaders in the Altamira region. The government needs to hear from affected populations and solve these problems or they will generate increasing conflicts throughout the region."
Sheyla traveled from the heart of the Amazon to the U.S. to meet with as many people as possible to share the truth and reality about what's happening in Altamira, the city that will be partially flooded if the Belo Monte Dam is built.
Since the final installation license for the dam was issued on June 1st, the situation in Altamira has rapidly degenerated, according to Sheyla:
Heavy machinery has been arriving daily. Forest and land has been cleared to build work camps along the river. Thousands of migrants from all across Brazil arrive weekly seeking work. This has put a stress on our already lacking social services. Crime and violence has increased. Families are being displaced off their land, in some cases, homes have been burnt by the police and no one is doing anything about this because we don't have enough local legal support to address the needs of every family. There are conflicts between families and landowners and there are death threats against indigenous leaders. We knew all of this would happen, which is why we have been opposed to the dam. Now, even the municipality of Altamira has denounced the dam, but the government is not listening. The situation in Altamira is really, really horrible. We need help!
So far this week, she met with former Brazilian senator and Green Party presidential candidate, Marina Silva; she addressed a crowd of 75 people at a cocktail reception for Amazon Watch; met with reporters in New York; and met with ally organizations and possible supporters of the movement to defend the Xingu and stop the Belo Monte Dam. Sheyla traveled to D.C. yesterday and arrives in San Francisco on Sunday, in time to speak at Amazon Watch's 15-year anniversary luncheon and celebration. It is her hope, and our hope, that during her time in the U.S. we can help garner much-needed support for the campaign to stop the dam via Amazon Watch and the Xingu Urgent Action Fund. Join the Cause and make a donation today! Help us reach our $10,000 goal by the end of the week!
If you are in Washington, D.C., Sheyla will be speaking at a lunch presentation on Friday, September 23rd at 2:00pm in the Amazon Watch/CIEL conference room, 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW #1100.
If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sheyla will be speaking at our luncheon, plus two other events:
- Wednesday, September 28th at 12:30 pm: Lunch presentation in the RAN conference room, 221 Pine Street, 6th Floor in San Francisco.
- Thursday, September 29th at 7 pm: Evening discussion in the Earth Island Institute conference room at the David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Suite 460 in Berkeley. Limited space is available, so RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't miss the opportunity to hear Sheyla speak! Xingu Vivo Para Sempre!