Tag Archive for 'indigenous communities'

Brazil Opens Indigenous Lands to Dams, Mining, and Military Bases in “National Interest”

Photo retrieved from: www.earthfirstnews.wordpress.com

“A directive signed Monday by Brazil’s Solicitor-General could hamper the efforts of indigenous tribes to win government recognition of their traditional lands, reports Survival International, a human rights group focused on native peoples.

The directive “opens up all indigenous areas to mineral, dams, roads, military bases and other developments of ‘national interest’ without the need to consult with or address concerns of indigenous peoples”, according to an expert familiar with the directive who asked to remain anonymous. It also restricts demarcation of new indigenous territories.

Survival International called the move “disastrous” citing the plight of the Guarani tribe, some members of which are waiting “in roadside camps or overcrowded reserves” for their ancestral lands to be mapped and allocated.”

Read more: Earth First!


Amazon Forum to Focus on Human Cost of Green Economy

Photo retrieved from: www.survivalinternational.org

“In Brazil and worldwide, large hydroelectric dams are being falsely deemed a source of “clean energy” critical to powering a “green economy.” Despite calls for “sustainable development” in the preparations for Rio+20, discussions have ignored the social and environmental implications of dam projects. The Belo Monte dam is the tip of the iceberg of an unprecedented wave of dam construction in the Amazon Basin fueled by narrow political and economic interests, with devastating and irreversible consequences for one of the world’s most precious biomes and its peoples.

Twenty-three years after the historic First Encounter of Indigenous Peoples of the Xingu in 1989 the Xingu+23 gathering reaffirms widespread resistance to the damming of one of the Amazon’s largest tributaries as a direct result of the Brazilian government’s refusal to abide by domestic legislation and international agreements regarding human rights and environmental protection. Hundreds of affected fishermen, small-scale farmers, indigenous peoples, social movements, academics, activists and other defenders of the Xingu River and other Amazonian regions will participate in the activities. Brazilian actor Sergio Marone of the Drop of Water Movement will coordinate a committee of renowned Brazilian artists and human rights activists.”

Read more: International Rivers

Belo Monte Insurer Dropped from Sustainability Index

Photo retrieved from: www.latindispatch.com

“The construction of the Belo Monte dam in the Amazon region of Brazil has come under heavy criticism because of the impact the dam may have on the environment and local residents. Experts anticipate that it will have adverse effects on the Amazon rainforest, particularly on species diversity, and hence also on the livelihoods of the indigenous inhabitants. Due to its involvement in this project, Munich Re has been excluded from the Global Challenges Index (GCX). By agreeing to provide cover for the construction phase of the project, the reinsurer violated the GCX’s strict environmental regulations.

Investors in general have started to realize that large dams in the Amazon are so destructive, so high-risk, that even lavish public subsidies and huge insurance policies can’t cover up what is clearly a bad investment.  In fact, investments in massive dams such as Belo Monte may actually be drawing investment away from other sectors which could really benefit the public, reported this Bloomberg Markets Magazine story in April.

Investing in mega-dams in the Amazon is not only weakening Brazil’s standing as a player in international environmental sustainability and threatening the government’s compliance with international covenants such as ILO169.”

Read more: International Rivers

Salmon revival in sight as Elwha River dams fall in U.S. Northwest

Photo retrieved from: www.reuters.com

“The two dams, about 80 miles northwest of Seattle, blocked migratory routes of salmon and steelhead trout to some 70 miles of tributary habitat, in the process robbing Native Americans of income by halting a treaty-guaranteed reservation fishery.

The river teemed with thrashing pink salmon before the Elwha Dam was built to generate electricity for the nearby mill town of Port Angeles, with a current population of around 19,000, and later, to a naval shipyard in Bremerton, about 80 miles away.

The Elwha Dam’s removal, completed in late March, was hailed by Governor Christine Gregoire as a significant environmental milestone that “shows what happens, when against many odds, a river is restored to its natural beauty.”

Supporters of the dam’s destruction say the benefits to the environment of tearing it down outweigh the loss of its aging power-generating station.

The destruction of the Glines should be finished in about a year to 18 months, ending the biggest dam demolition in U.S. history.

The removal of the two dams – ordered by a 1992 law signed by then-President George H.W. Bush – is aimed at restoring the natural habitat of more than 300,000 salmon. Economic and environmental impact analyses delayed the project’s start.”

Read more: Reuters

Enbridge: Why Just Ride To Conquer Cancer? Stop It Before It Starts

Photo retrieved from: www.borealbirds.org

“Enbridge has been finessing its plans to construct the Northern Gateway Pipeline, a pipeline originally proposed about 10 years ago and which is being pushed by the Harper agenda. The twin pipelines, which run from Northern Alberta to BC’s coast, will cross through 60 First Nations communities and over 1,000 streams and rivers. This means that in the event of a pipeline failure it is likely that waterways will be contaminated and the health impacts on local people are soon to follow.

Now let’s take Enbridge’s track record. The company has an average 60 leaks and spills per year between 1999-2008 and the Northern Gateway could add about 5 spills per year. With these statistics, it is not a matter of ifthere is a spill, but when there is a spill and where will it be. No oil or engineering company has ever been able to fully clean up their mess and recover 100% of oil leaked. One teaspoon of benzene, but one of the many contaminants released, can contaminate 260,660 gallons of water. In the event of a leak, carcinogenic toxins are released both into waterways, land, and the air.

In communities living downstream from tar sands projects, rare cancers are unfortunately not so rare. Bile duct cancer typically affects 1 in every 100,000 people. In Fort Chipeweyan, a community with a population of about 1200 people, there were five diagnosed cases in the span of about 5 years.  Bile duct cancer is among the many other cancers—colon cancer, leukemia, lymphoma to name a few—and diseases on the rise in Fort Chip, a community which draws its water from the Athabasca watershed. The watershed has been increasingly contaminated by tar sands projects.

Rising cancer rates seen in communities living downstream from the tar sands is bound to be replicated in communities living along Enbridge’s proposed pipeline. The associated health costs of the pipeline is only one of the many reasons that several communities have banded together to reject the proposal.”

Read more: It’s Getting Hot In Here