COMMENTARY: Shame on Brazil: Stop the Amazon Mega-Dam Project Belo Monte
By Rebecca Sommer
Special to http://www.huntingtonnews.net/
Photo © Rebecca Sommer (Kayapó Xicrin woman with her child)
International groups expressed in a joint letter their outrage and opposition against Brazil's plan to build Belo Monte, a mega-hydroelectric project.
Belo Monte would be the third largest dam in the world, and the largest development project in the Amazon, that would devastate an extensive area of the Brazilian rain forest, threatening the survival of indigenous peoples, and severely violating their rights.
If constructed, Belo Monte would inundate 500 square km of land and divert most of the Xingu River’s flow through artificial canals. An enormous stretch of the Xingu River’s “Big Ben" would dry out. The letter was signed by 140 organizations, and delivered to president Lula on March 10, 2010.
"The goal of this letter is to publicly denounce the reckless and immoral conduct of the Brazilian government in approving the Belo Monte hydroelectic dam project. This letter demonstrates an emerging movement of a broad coalition of international human rights organizations, indigenous peoples and environmental groups firmly opposing this project. " said Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Plans to build hydroelectric dams on the Xingu river have existed since the 1970s but have repeatedly failed to materialize, partly as a result of fierce pressure from environmental groups, indigenous peoples and local communities of the Xingu Basin, that have fought Belo Monte for more than 20 years on the same grounds that they continue to oppose it now.
"We want to make sure that Belo Monte does not destroy the ecosystems and the biodiversity that we have taken care of for millennia," Megaron Tuxucumarrae, a leader of the Kayapo Indians said. "We are opposed to dams on the Xingu and will fight to protect our river."