Eye on the Amazon

Massive Brazilian Protests Find Common Ground with Indigenous Resistance

Sonia Bone Guajajara, VP of the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COAIB), addresses indigenous marchers on Rio's Flamengo Beach on June 19, 2012.

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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Over the last week, and right after indigenous peoples vowed to continue resisting Amazon dams, Brazil has been flooded with a huge wave of massive street protests coinciding with the opening of the Confederation's Cup, reportedly the largest the country has seen in the last 40 years. The protests have been met with violent repression, a sign of what's to come in the next year as the country prepares to host the World Cup next June. Check out this Witness blogpost featuring photos and video footage by Han Shan summarizing the events of the last week, "As Protests Rock Brazil One Year Before World Cup, a "People's Cup" Celebrates Resistance to Forced Evictions."

Recent protests have united a diversity of citizens frustrated by billions invested in World Cup stadiums, while the people suffer. Frustrations range from increases in public transportation fees, to lack of access to a responsible healthcare system, quality education or reliable services, despite a heavy tax burden and outrageous salaries given to politicians. Brazilians claim they were pushed to the edge and can't stay quiet anymore. Indigenous peoples of Brazil agree.

"Our fight has no end. The government needs to respect our rights and our Constitution. They don't want to listen to indigenous people but we won't stop until they do," said indigenous leader Cândido Munduruku.

Among the issues presented by the masses: the irresponsible use of public resources, forced displacements and human rights violations are leading concerns. Sound familiar? These are the same issues raised when talking about mega-projects like the Belo Monte dam in the heart of Amazon north of Brazil's major cities where protests are growing.

Belo Monte represents an emblematic project that has been continuously violating indigenous rights, human rights and environmental rights. It has been financed by the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) mostly with Brazilian taxpayers' money, which could have otherwise been invested in equitable and clean energy development for the country. Furthermore, the corruption and special interests behind this massive project have spent money militarizing dam sites rather than concentrate efforts on complying with environmental conditions.

With Brazil's growing global power, dissatisfaction and protests have also been growing, putting the nation's image at stake. This as an opportunity for a real change! National and international personalities like Barack Obama, Beyonce and Neimar have already joined the massive call to "#ChangeBrazil."

Such change would require a development plan that respects the rights of indigenous peoples and all Brazilian civil society, the environment, and provides institutions with sufficient resources to provide for a dignified life for all Brazilians. With its bountiful resources, and its current position in the world stage, Brazil has the opportunity to be a global leader in sustainable and equitable development by listening to the demands of its people and the global community's call for clean and alternative energy.

Please join Brazilian civil society and indigenous people in this call to #ChangeBrazil. Thank you for your support of this ongoing and growing movement for a better Brazil, a Brazil that respects human rights and the environment.

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