Worker Admits to Spying on Social Movement in Belo Monte Dam Case

Belo Monte dam worker infiltrated organization to inform Brazilian intelligence

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Caroline Bennett, +1 510 629 9390, caroline@amazonwatch.org
Christian Poirier, +33 770 381 849, christian@amazonwatch.org


Altamira, Brazil – Members of the Brazilian Xingu Alive Forever Movement (MXVPS) have discovered an informant claiming to be an activist who was caught spying on their annual strategic planning meeting last Sunday with a pen-shaped video camera. Upon being exposed, the suspect immediately confessed in a video statement that the Belo Monte Construction Consortium (CCBM) had hired him to infiltrate the MXVPS meeting in order to gather information on its leaders and activities and to inform the Brazilian government's national intelligence agency ABIN.

The infiltrator, whose first name is Antonio and who is also known by his initials ACO, admitted that he was hired as a security guard for CCBM and asked to spy on labor leaders within the dam's workforce who could be organizing strikes.

According to ACO's confession, he has been spying on the MXVPS since December when he infiltrated the group using his family's friendship with the Movement's leader Antonia Melo. During this period he attended meetings, monitored participants and sent photos and reports to his superior at the CCBM, who in turn shared this information with ABIN. ABIN is reportedly sending an agent to Altamira this week to liaise with CCBM.

After admitting to spying, ACO addressed the Movement's participants, asking for forgiveness and promising to publically denounce the CCBM. He soon changed his mind, however, claiming that he had been threatened by the organization and threatening MXVPS members with legal action.

The MXVPS has responded by publicizing his filmed confession in order to demonstrate the criminal nature of the CCBM, which used its coercive and financial power to coerce its employees to spy on its opponents. This case also establishes the Brazilian government's direct involvement in this activity through its intelligence agency ABIN and it's overwhelming financial and political support of the Belo Monte Dam project. In its complaint filed with Brazil's Federal Ministry, the MXVPS states that the affair "reveals an espionage scheme that is incomprehensible in a full democratic state under the rule of law."

The informant also admitted that he had spied on the labor leaders within the Belo Monte workforce and that after the November 2012 worker strike and uprising, this information was used to fire some 80 workers and arrest five others.

The construction of the Belo Monte dam on the Amazon's Xingu River, slated to be the third largest hydroelectric project in the world, has been marked by acute controversy, persistent legal challenges and widespread protests since its initiation in 2005. The project would divert 80 percent of the Xingu's flow through artificial canals, flooding over 600 square kilometers of rainforest while drying out a 100-kilometer stretch of the river known as the "Big Bend" which is home to hundreds of indigenous and riverine families. Though sold to the public as "clean energy" the Belo Monte dam would generate an enormous amount of methane, a greenhouse gas 25-50 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

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