The Brazilian government continues with plans to build the massive Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River in the Amazon rainforest, despite intense and growing domestic and international opposition. The 11.2 billion dollar dam will devastate an extensive area of the Amazon rainforest and threaten the survival of tens of thousands of indigenous and traditional peoples who depend on the Xingu River for their livelihoods. It is estimated 500 square kilometers of intact Amazon rainforest land would be flooded by the dam. Last week Brazil awarded the construction contract to Norte Energia, a domestic consortium of companies; and construction of the dam, which would be the world’s third largest, could begin this year.
The Xingu River in northeast Brazil is a tributary of the Amazon River. The Belo Monte Dam, meant principally to fuel the expansion of aluminum foundries and other industrial plants in the Amazon, would require diverting nearly the entire flow of the Xingu, drying up the “Big Bend” of the Xingu and its tributary, the Bacajá, home to thousands of indigenous people. Native people upstream would also be affected by the dam´s impacts on fish stocks, their principal food source.
In recent weeks the areas indigenous people, in addition to social movement and environmentalists including Avatar movie director James Cameron, gathered to protest the plans for the Belo Monte dam. Cameron called the dam an ecological disaster and said there were alternatives. Indigenous people have not been adequately consulted about the project and are concerned that their rights will be violated if the project goes forward as planned. The project will directly affect two indigenous reserves along the Big Bend of the Xingu, and will indirectly affect indigenous reserves throughout the Xingu Basin.
The Kayapó leader Raoni Metuktire, who gained international exposure touring the world with Sting, said indigenous men from the Xingu were preparing their bows and arrows in order to fight off the dam. "I think that today the war is about to start once more and the Indians will be forced to kill the white men again so they leave our lands alone," he said. "I think the white man wants too much, our water, our land. There will be a war so the white man cannot interfere in our lands again."
The Amazon basin with its intact rainforests and rivers is a critical ecosystem that must remain intact for Brazil’s sustainable advancement and for the Planet to remain habitable. Please tell Brazil´s President Lula and other decision makers in the Brazilian government that you support the position of indigenous peoples of the rainforest - that Brazil has better ways of providing its future energy needs than destroying the mighty Xingu River, its rainforests and its peoples.
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The campaign draws parallels to James Cameron's Avatar (pictured right) as indigenous peoples resist rapacious ecological destruction
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