Tag Archive for 'xingu river'

Power-Hungry Brazil Builds Dams, and More Dams, Across the Amazon

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span five miles across the Madeira River, feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world and hold as much concrete as 47 towers the size of the Empire State Building.

And then there are the power lines, draped along 1,400 miles of forests and fields to carry electricity from here in the center of South America to Brazil’s urban nerve center, Sao Paulo.

Still, it won’t be enough.

The dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few miles downstream will provide just 5 percent of what government energy planners say the country will need in the next 10 years. So Brazil is building more dams, many more, courting controversy by locating the vast majority of them in the world’s largest and most biodiverse forest.”

“The investment to build these plants is very high, and they are to be put in a region which is an icon for environmental preservation, the Amazon,” said Paulo Domingues, energy planning director for the Ministry of Mines and Energy. “So that has worldwide repercussions.”

Read more: International Rivers


A Raging River

Photo retrieved from: www.amazonwatch.org

“As the Brazil government pursues its reckless plans to build mega-dams on major Amazonian rivers like the Xingu and Madeira, we can expect to see their catastrophic social and environmental consequences continue to befall local communities. This article highlights how the construction of the Santo Antônio dam of Brazil’s Madeira River Complex in the Amazonian state of Rondônia has unleashed the river’s destructive powers, swallowing a riverside community in the city of Porto Velho. It also shows how these dams decimate the abundant fish species that are so crucial to local food security and livelihoods while uprooting thousands of people from their homes.

Two days before the start of tests on the first turbine of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric dam [on the Madeira River] in Rondônia, the phone rang in the home of fisherwoman Maria Iêsa Reis Lima. “It’s going to start”, warned a friend who worked on the dam’s construction. Iêsa sat on the porch, poised to observe the waters, awaiting what she knew would be an irreversible change. “The Madeira River is dangerous, it demands respect. The engineers say that they have all the technology, but nothing controls the reaction of this river.”

This is sadly just one of the stories emerging from dam-ravaged communities in the Amazon, one we will see repeated many times over if Brazil continues to pursue its disastrous plans for the region’s rivers.”

Read more: Amazon Watch


Federal Public Prosecutors Appeal to Supreme Court to Maintain Suspension of Belo Monte

Photo retrieved from: www.abcnews.com

“The Federal Public Prosecutors’ Office (Ministério Público Federal – MPF) filed an appeal today with the Brazilian Supreme Court to stop construction of the Belo Monte Dam until consultations are held with indigenous people affected by the project.  Construction was allowed to continue last week due to an injunction issued by Chief Justice Carlos Ayres Britto that suspended an earlier decision of a regional federal court (TRF-1). The appeal requests that Ayres Britto reconsider his decision; if he does not agree, the case will be examined by the plenary of the Supreme Court.

The appeal to the Supreme Court was signed by the two highest authorities of the Federal Public Prosecutors’ Office, Roberto Gurgel and  Deborah Duprat.  They maintain that, according to the Brazilian Constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), indigenous people should be consulted by Congress prior to any decision that may affect their survival, as in the case of construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu river.”

Read more: International Rivers

Occupy the Dam: Brazil’s Indigenous Uprising

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“The Belo Monte Dam is the most controversial of dozens of dams planned in the Amazon region and threatens the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Amazonian people, plants, and animals. Situated on the Xingu River, the dam is set to flood roughly 150 square miles of already-stressed rainforest and deprive an estimated 20,000 people of their homes, their incomes, and—for those who succumb to malaria, bilharzia, and other diseases carried by insects and snails that are predicted to breed in the new reservoir—their lives. Moreover, the influx of immigrants will bring massive disruption to the socioeconomic balance of the region. People whose livelihoods have primarily depended on hunting and gathering or farming may suddenly find themselves forced to take jobs as manual laborers, servants, and prostitutes.

History has shown again and again that dams in general wreak havoc in areas where they are built, despite promises to the contrary by developers and governments. Hydroelectric energy is anything but “clean” when measured in terms of the excruciating pain it causes individuals, social institutions, and local ecology.”

Read more: Alternet

Amazon Indians Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site

Photo retrieved from: www.earthfirst.wordpress.com

“An estimated 200 indigenous people from Brazil’s Amazon region have occupied a work area at the Belo Monte dam construction site, at least partially halting work on the controversial mega project on the Xingu river.

The indigenous people are from at least four tribes – the Xikrin, Juruna, Parakana and Araras – and are protesting against what they say is the negative effects of the construction.

They say the construction runoff is muddying the waters and drying up parts of the river they use to fish.

They are also upset that mitigation projects or compensation promised to the indigenous people by the builders to minimize effects of the construction have been slow to materialize.

The indigenous people have occupied one of work sites of the dam since last Thursday, making it the longest occupation of its kind on the construction site.

The builders have halted work on the part of the dam that is being occupied by the indigenous people, but say work continues unabated in other areas. (The construction site is so big it’s divided up into multiple work sites).

According to a local federal prosecutor, the builders’ judicial request to have the Indians removed by force by police was rejected by a federal judge over the weekend.”

Read more: Aljazeera

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

The Real Cost Of Brazil’s Dam

Photo retrieved from: www.survivalinternational.org

“Until a few months ago, the future of the Belo Monte dam seemed in doubt. The project faced a wave of legal battles and opposition from indigenous groups and environmental organisations around the world.

About 400 square kilometres of the Amazon forest will be flooded to make way for the reservoirs.

The dam is being built in Brazil’s northern Para state, home to large parts of the Amazon Rainforest.

Some 25,000 indigenous people live along the banks of the Xingu River.

One indigenous group – the Paquicamba – live downstream from the main dam. If the dam is built, the normal flow of the river would shrink significantly. The Paquicamba say their fish stocks would be severely depleted.”

Read more: Aljazeera

Hundreds Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site in Brazilian Amazon

Photo retrieved from: www.americanifra.com

Altamira, Brazil – Hundreds of indigenous leaders, fishermen and riverine people from the Xingu River basin have gathered to occupy the Belo Monte Dam construction site in a peaceful protest to stop its construction in Altamira, located in the state of Pará in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. They have vowed to permanently occupy the site and are calling on allied organizations and movements to join them.

The Trans-Amazon Highway (BR-230) has been blocked around the Santo Antônio village, where it passes the proposed construction site. Groups are demanding the presence of a Brazilian government high-level official at the site to initiate a new round of negotiations that are transparent, inclusive and respectful of the rights of local people affected by the dam.

“Belo Monte will only succeed if we do nothing about it. We will not be silent. We will shout out loud and we will do it now,” said Juma Xipaia, a local indigenous leader. “We only demand what our Constitution already ensures us: our rights. Our ancestors fought so we could be here now. Many documents and meetings have already transpired and nothing has changed. The machinery continues to arrive to destroy our region.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) has requested explanation as to why the Brazilian Government did not act to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples affected by the dam, as requested by the IAHCR in April. According to the OAS, the Brazilian Government has an obligation of consulting and informing indigenous peoples who will be affected by the dam prior to construction.

Yesterday, the government of Brazil refused to attend a closed hearing convened by the IAHCR intended to foster dialogue toward resolving conflict and discuss failures in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples threatened by the proposed Belo Monte Dam. Plans for the project ignore international protections such as the right to free, prior and informed consent, and jeopardize the health, livelihood and ancestral lands of thousands of indigenous peoples.”

Read more: Amazon Watch


Brazil, After a Long Battle, Approves an Amazon Dam

Chief Raoni weeps after hearing that the Belo Monte dam will be built. Retrieved from: www.washingtonpost.com

“Belo Monte became a priority for the previous government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who contended that the plant was critical to Brazil’s future energy needs. His successor, President Dilma Rousseff, has remained committed to the project.

The license was granted by the environmental agency after “robust technical analysis,” the government said in a news release. The North Energy consortium will pay $1.9 billion for “social-environmental measures,” to help people affected by the dam’s construction and to offset environmental effects, an agency spokeswoman said. The government itself has committed $314 million, she said.

Conservationists have become increasingly critical of Brazil’s efforts to protect the Amazon rain forest. Brazil’s deforestation numbers increased sharply over the past nine months, and the lower house of Congress last week approved a revision of the Forest Code that would open up protected areas to deforestation while granting amnesty to agribusiness developers for previous forest-clearing. The Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

“The government has an important choice – to go back to a future of wasteful publicly funded mega-projects and frontier chaos, or ahead, to the future of a sustainable and equitable green economy leader, with rule of law, good governance and a secure natural and investment environment,” said Stephan Schwartzman of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The $17 billion dam, which is expected to start producing electricity in 2015, would divert the Xingu River along a 62-mile stretch in Pará State. Environmental groups say it will flood more than 120,000 acres of rain forest and settlements, displacing 20,000 to 40,000 people and releasing large quantities of methane. The Ibama spokeswoman put the number of displaced people at 20,000 but insisted that no indigenous people would be removed from their lands.”

Read more: Amazon Watch


Belo Monte Dam: Brazil’s Energy Gamble

A deforested area along the border of the Xingu River, in the region where the Belo Monte dam is due to be built, Feb. 19, 2005. Photo retrieved from: www.globalpost.com

“RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — The epic battle over whether to build the world’s third-largest dam is often billed as a fight between those who love the land and those who love development.

But a brief scientific report released today suggests something more basic may be wrong with the project known as Belo Monte, set to be built in the eastern Amazon. It pins Brazil’s energy future on an expensive hydropower installation in a region where water may be increasingly scarce.

The paper, published in the journal Science, makes no mention of the dam. Instead, it documents how for the second time in just five years, the Amazon basin has seen a once-in-a-century drought, arguing the shift matches predictions for how climate change will affect the region.

“This new research adds to a body of evidence suggesting that severe droughts will become more frequent,” said Simon Lewis, a forest ecologist at the University of Leeds, and a lead author on the paper. “It’s worrying because it fits with projections from some of the most sophisticated [climate] models — and those results were published before these two droughts had occurred.”

Read more: Global Post