Belo Monte Roller Coaster Continues…
September 14, 2012 | Maira Irigaray
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Just a month ago we where celebrating glorious moments of when a high-level court suspended construction of the controversial Belo Monte Dam project on the Amazon's Xingu River, citing overwhelming evidence that indigenous people had not been properly consulted prior to government approval of the project.
Two weeks later, the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned the suspension of the Belo Monte Dam, caving to pressure from President Dilma Rousseff's administration through the Attorney General's office, without giving appropriate consideration to indigenous rights implications for the case, illustrating the Brazilian judiciary's alarming lack of independence.
Then, on September 4th, as we expected, the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office appealed the decision, demanding that the Chief Justice reconsider his decision or allow a vote by the full Supreme Court. Earlier this week the appeal received written support by the Prosecutor General Office (PGR) reinforcing the necessity of the suspension until proper consultation takes place, as well as discrediting (or delegitimizing) the claim made by the Attorney General's Office.
Despite that the future of the Belo Monte Dam appears to be on a rollercoaster ride in the Brazilian judiciary, the national indigenous federation (FUNAI) carried out a so-called "consultation" last week with a few indigenous leaders from the Xingu's Big Bend region to discuss the transposition, or complete closure, of the river. An inside source said that Norte Energia organized the meeting, and that FUNAI guaranteed that it wouldn't grant or deny their green light based on this meeting. No indigenous person was ever asked if they agreed or disagreed, and the meeting was terminated with many unanswered questions.
Surprisingly on September 12th the national environmental agency (IBAMA) granted permission to Norte Energia to complete the coffer dams, and close the river for good. The document from IBAMA stated that after evaluating the mechanisms for transposition and the green light granted by FUNAI, they where also approving the request. Clearly, either FUNAI or IBAMA is lying here.
The truth is that indigenous leaders were informed but did not approve the transposition. It is also important to note that this so-called "consultation" only included a few leaders, not entire communities. It did not even include the Xikrin, who have been some of the most outspoken opponents of the dam, and who are directly affected.
As if all this chaos wasn't enough, Canadian mining company Belo Sun has begun public hearings this week in attempt to move forward with licensing processes and establish themselves on the Big Bend. Vale is also carrying out a new project and affecting a sacred territory for the Xikrin People.
While it may feel like Belo Monte is a fait accompli, it is not! It's not because people on the ground are still fighting, the Federal Public Prosecutor is still fighting, Brazilian civil society and the international community are still fighting! It is more important than ever to keep up this fight, and to show your support. With your help we can change history. Let's all come together to unify our voices into one calling: Justice NOW!
For a Xingu Alive Forever!