Indigenous Communities Protest the Belo Monte Dam

Indigenous leaders from more than 15 ethnic groups living in the Xingu River Basin (PA) promise to protest the Belo Monte dam on the 5th of April. According to the São Paulo newspaper O Estado, indigenous groups are worried about the rapidly approaching date of the auction due to take place on April 20th. The auction will determine who the consortium will be responsible for the construction of the dam.

The protest is said to take place on the Capoto-Jarina Reserve in the village of Piaraçu in Mato Grosso. In November of 2009 approximately 250 indigenous leaders protested for five days against the very same hydroelectric dam in the same village and stopped a ferry from crossing the river.

As the federal government's largest energy investment under the PAC program (Program for Accelerated Growth), Belo Monte is also the most controversial. Since 2001 the project has been questioned by the Federal Prosecutor of Pará. The ministry filed eight different suits against the installation of the dam posing its main arguments against the disrespect to indigenous people, the environmental impacts and the question of financing around the dam.

Environmentalists and scientist similarly oppose the project. Studies carried out by groups like the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA) and the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), show negative impacts resulting from the dam's construction to local vegetation, animals and the indigenous peoples inhabiting the Volta Grande (Big Bend) stretch of the Xingu River.

Today (April 24th) civil society organizations will be delivering an extrajudicial notice to the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) warning it about the fragility of the environmental license issued for the dam by the Institute of Environment and Renewable Resources (IBAMA). BNDES, which has already set out to be the largest funder for the project, will be advised of its co-responsibility for impacts caused by the dam once a loan has been issued.

Translated by: Katherine Needles

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