A Drop of Water
Beginning of an Energy Revolution in Brazil?
- December 15, 2011
- Tica Minami and Christian Poirier
In a historic turn of events, the struggle to protect the Xingu River and its people has gained critical support and unprecedented momentum thanks to the launch of the innovative Movimento Gota d'Água (Drop of Water Movement). Launched to an online Brazilian public in mid-November, the movement's immediately viral video includes statements from 19 celebrity actors who question the construction of the controversial and polemic Belo Monte Dam in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.
The five-minute video features actors deconstructing several key points that Brazil's government employs to defend the construction of Belo Monte, presenting creative arguments that highlight the dam's deplorable energy inefficiency, its unacceptable impacts on the environment and on indigenous and local communities, and its astronomical cost which could surpass US$17 billion. Questioning the irresponsible use of public financing, the artists point out that 80% of Belo Monte's enormous price tag will come from the pocket of the Brazilian taxpayer, while society has yet to be involved in this debate.
Immediately after its launch the video went viral, with millions of hits within a few days, reaching a broad audience that had previously been uninformed about this dire injustice unfolding within their borders. While the video immediately provoked a storm of criticism, including a vile smear article in the propagandist magazine Veja, the movement has opened debate about the energy future for Brazil with a vigor that is unprecedented in Brazilian media. It has also created an online "video war" with opposing groups creating their own statements for and against the dam. Gota D'Água has brought Belo Monte to the masses, provoking scrutiny and debate, just as the Brazilian government would seek to relegate it to the shadows.
The Gota d'Água +10 video also empowers people to act by signing a petition addressed to President Dilma Rousseff, asking for the immediate suspension of the Belo Monte Dam while promoting energy alternatives to lead Brazil towards a truly clean and responsible energy future, combining economic development with environmental protection and respect for human rights. In only one week, Gota d'Água +10 turned into an enormous wave of awareness, gathering nearly one million signatures!
Next Tuesday, members of the movement will continue to build momentum against Belo Monte as it delivers over 1.34 million signatures to President Dilma's office.
"We are making history," said Brazilian actor Sergio Marone, who is leading the initiative. "It proves the Brazilian people were deprived of Justice and were only waiting for a good reason to revive our discredited and young democracy. We cannot fail [to support] this intense and its rapid mobilization. Our first goal – to open the debate over the construction of Belo Monte Dam – has been reached. Now we want to keep an open and high-level debate over Brazil's energy future. We are grateful to everyone who signed our petition and to those who have independently helped us to make this initiative. And we also thank each one of thousands of people who share not only our video, but also the belief that Brazil can be an economic power by focusing on a more human and truly sustainable model of development. This is only the beginning of this wave's journey towards a better, more aware and just world."
The term "Gota D'Água" in Portuguese means "the straw that broke the camel's back." It could more appropriately be called a crack in the Belo Monte Dam that could reduce this monstrosity to rubble. Much like the protests that are sweeping the world, Gota D'Água has found its voice through the power of social media, making it a force to be reckoned with. As part of the Xingu Forever Alive Movement we are truly inspired by this initiative. This drop of water has rapidly become a tsunami of renewed hope to all of those fighting to defend the Xingu, its biodiversity and its people.