Eye on the Amazon

Xingu: The Belo Monte Battle Continues

Xingu: The Belo Monte Battle Continues

Peace and Respect
in the Amazon!

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


On May 2nd, 200 indigenous people affected by the construction of large hydroelectric dams in the Amazon launched an occupation on one of the main construction sites of the Belo Monte dam complex on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon. They were demanding effective legislation on prior consultations with indigenous peoples regarding projects that affect their lands and livelihoods and the immediate suspension of construction, technical studies and police operations related to dams along the Xingu, Tapajós and Teles Pires rivers.

For eight days the group strongly resisted against mounting odds. The government did not show up for dialogue, instead sending in military troops and prohibiting lawyers, journalists and activists to document the occupation. They even blocked the delivery of donated food and supplies for the indigenous protestors. On May 9th a judicial order of the Superior Regional Tribunal granted permission for troops to remove the occupiers from the work camps using force if needed. Nearly a full day later the groups decided to leave peacefully, stating:

"As we entered peacefully, we decided to leave peacefully. We show that we are not bandits and that we respect the court's decision. We hope that our attitude shows us to be open to a dialogue."Valdenir Munduruku

Last weekend a widely-circulated national newspaper released an important article highlighting how indigenous and non-indigenous actions and protests have delayed the works of Belo Monte for one year already. It also states that costs were underestimated and now surpass US $15 billion (US $5.5 billion over initial projections). Furthermore, analysis shows that profitability of shareholders has decreased from 10.5% to 6.5% per year, and that the construction consortium may lose up to US $2 billion in revenue if things continue at this pace.

It's important to share those numbers because they mean that we are doing something right. With every single action we gain time, new allies and an opportunity to show the world what we already know well: this dam is no damn good!

Belo Monte is NOT a fait accompli. Only 30% of civil works are completed and we still have time to make the difference. Our fight is starting again and that's a victory. A victory that is ours – it is not a victory of the justice system or of the government. The government does not know how to govern indigenous peoples. Things are wrong in Brazil, but we will change that. Indigenous warriors are still in Altamira gathering more forces, and they will continue resisting for respect of their human and environmental rights. But they need YOU. They need us to support them on this path to justice. Here are two easy things YOU can do right now that go a long way:

Let's continue to spread their voices to the world for a thriving Amazon and justice now!

Saweh! (Indigenous salute)

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