Eye on Brasília: Indigenous Resistance to Dams Persists

Protesting the Belo Monte Dam

Peace and Respect
in the Amazon!

Urge President Dilma to find a peaceful solution to the Belo Monte conflict and respect indigenous rights!

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Last week, indigenous groups that occupied the Belo Monte dam site and who traveled to Brasilia to meet with top representatives from the Brazilian government attempted to enter the Presidential Palace to deliver a letter to President Rousseff and were met by a blockade of police. The group remained in the capital after their first encounter with ministers to demand further dialogue and express frustrations with the government's unresponsiveness.

After receiving no feedback whatsoever from government representatives, the group occupied the headquarters Brazilian indigenous agency FUNAI on June 10th. They waited an entire day to deliver a letter to FUNAI President Maria Augusta Assirati, who avoided meeting with them, instead sending a note claiming she was "too busy" in another meeting.

Last Tuesday marked one week that the group had remained in Brasilia attempting to dialogue with the government concerning a respectful approach toward indigenous peoples' constitutional right to consultation over dam projects that threaten their lands. The only response they received stipulated that indigenous peoples have no right to veto the government's infrastructure plans.

Indigenous leader Josias Munduruku stated, "What kind of consultation is this when they have already made a decision that we cannot change? What then could come out of this so-called consultation?"

In a 10th letter from a series of statements of indigenous opposition and resistance to dams in the Amazon, the groups described violence they have suffered in Brasilia, from verbal abuse to a series of inaccurate press releases and articles, as well as the use of police force to prohibit them from delivering statements to government representatives. The indigenous group concluded their stay in Brasilia stating, "We understand what the government is saying – that they will build dams on our lands without caring about what we think...even if they consult us our opinion will not matter."

The letter goes on, "The fight doesn't end here...It seems, unfortunately, that we will need to return to our homes without an answer [from the government]. We came to ask for peace and the government is declaring war."

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