Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch

Voices of the Xingu: Antonia Melo, Amazon Warrior

February 13, 2014 | Maira Irigaray

"We won't let our rivers in the Amazon be sacrificed!"
– Antonia Melo

Help Stop the Belo Monte Dam!

As citizens of the global community working to protect rivers and defend human rights, we can change the course of this struggle.


If you're reading this it's quite likely that you know by now that the Brazilian government is planning to build what would be the world's third largest hydroelectric dam on one of the Amazon's major tributaries, the Xingu River. The Belo Monte dam would divert the flow of the Xingu and devastate an extensive area of the Brazilian rainforest, displacing over 20,000 people and threatening the survival of indigenous peoples. For the past 25 years, Antonia Melo da Silva has been at the forefront of this battle fighting for justice, rights, rivers and the rainforest.

Born in 1949 and mother of five, Melo (as we like to call her) is the coordinator and the heart of the Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre (Xingu Alive Forever Movement), a coalition of over 150 organizations and social movements fighting the Belo Monte dam. She has worked tirelessly since the dam was first proposed and stopped following the historic Altamira gathering of 1989 and a global campaign calling for cancellation of World Bank financing.

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Chevron Cries: "Please Your Honor, Make the Cartoons Stop!"

February 5, 2014 | Paul Paz y Miño

Donny Rico

Don't let Chevron turn defending the environment and human rights into a crime!

Tell the U.S. Senate's top corporate watchdogs to investigate Chevron's attacks against the very people it poisoned and their allies.


Cartoons are dangerous. Did you know that? In fact, Chevron wants a US Federal Court to believe cartoons are even more dangerous than dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon and then suing the very people it poisoned. Suppressing free speech, crushing critics with legal attacks, and violating the 1st Amendment – also less scary than cartoons, according to Chevron.

Pulitzer Prize winning animator Mark Fiore discovered this when we pointed out that Chevron's latest legal filing in their bogus RICO action against the Ecuadorians and their supporters included these lines:

Chevron Has Suffered, and Will Continue to Suffer, Ongoing Injuries
...Chevron continues to be threatened with a variety of "real, immediate, and direct" injuries.
...they have already unleashed a barrage of near-daily press releases, letters to government officials and shareholders, web videos, and cartoons in an effort to extort a payoff from Chevron.

Fiore explains it on his blog in Part 1 and Part 2. He (@MarkFiore and @The_Donny_Rico) then created a Twitter-storm and it's been picked up by Salon.com among others. It was only a matter of time before he too joined the ranks of the "global conspirators" in Chevron’s eyes. Yep, Donny Rico nailed it!

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Brazil: Munduruku People Kick Miners Off Indigenous Territory, Seize Equipment

February 3, 2014 | Larissa Saud

Under threat of death, Muduruku expel miners from their territories, west of Para. Photo: Larissa Saud / Terra Magazine

This week marked a new chapter in the Mundurukú people’s intensifying movement to protect their lands and rivers. Informal gold mining operations have long been a scourge on Mundurukú territory as they operate throughout the Amazon, poisoning rivers, dispersing fish, and bringing conflict and disease to indigenous communities.

A little history

In November 2012, Brazilian authorities organized a brutal military incursion into Mundurukú land, purportedly to stamp out illegal mining. During their so-called “Operation El Dorado” police swept into the Teles Pires indigenous community on a military helicopter wielding machine guns and opened fire, murdering the young leader Adenilson Mundurukú and injuring 12 more people, including children. After their rampage, Brazilian police forces destroyed a mining barge on the river, dispersing debris and pollution. While the action succeeded in driving local miners away, they returned to their operations as soon as the police left the area, leaving the Mundurukú terrorized and without official recourse to remove miners from their lands.

Operation El Dorado is widely believed to have been a tactic by the Brazilian government to intimidate and demoralize the Mundurukú people, who represent the most significant obstacle to government plans to dam the Tapajós River and its tributaries.

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From Altamira to Munich: Confronting Belo Monte's Corporate Profiteers

January 31, 2014 | Christian Poirier

Monica Brito addressing Siemens shareholders Photo: Planète Amazone

Justice Now!

Join the worldwide chorus calling for justice by urging Brazil's Supreme Court to rule on lawsuits against the Belo Monte Dam!


Last week's annual shareholder meeting of the German technology giant Siemens was peppered with acclamations of the company's sustainable business practices and valiant efforts to deliver clean technology around the world. Yet Amazonian activist Monica Brito immediately shattered this clean and green illusion when she took the microphone to address assembled shareholders. Having traveled from the sweltering and chaotically dam-stricken city of Altamira to the orderly and freezing streets of Munich, Monica delivered a much-needed reality check to this bastion of corporate authority.

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Severe Oil Contamination Found in the Largest National Reserve in Peru

January 27, 2014 | Stefan Kistler

Indigenous monitor records contamination in Pacaya Samira. Photo: Alianza Arkana/ACODECOSPAT Last week Peruvian governmental authorities released test results that prove alarming levels of contamination in Peru's largest national reserve, Pacaya Samiria. The park has been declared a "wetland of international importance" by international treaty and is part of Kukama Kukamilla indigenous territory. The contaminated waters are the source of drinking water for numerous indigenous communities along the Marañon River basin of the northern Peruvian Amazon.

Contaminants were detected in water, soil, sediment, and drinking water within and outside of the oil concession 8x operated by Pluspetrol. Soil contained hydrocarbons (TPH), as well as heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic – in some areas exceeding up to 95 times the permitted environmental quality standards for soil. The water contaminants included arsenic, zinc, mercury, and most prominently, lead.

The agencies reported several infractions by Pluspetrol, including its failure to report 49 of the 60 sites where contaminants were detected. Actions have been taken to undertake sanctions against the company.

These test results are the last in a series of investigations carried out by a government commission which looked at the two oil concessions 1AB and 8, operated by Pluspetrol, located in the northern Peruvian Amazon. The seriousness of previous results from the Pastaza, Corrientes, and Tigre river basins led the government to declare an environmental state of emergency in each respective basin.

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