Brazil: farmers block Belo Monte to demand power

Some 150 farmers blocked the access road to one of the construction sites for the giant Belo Monte dam in Vitória do Xingu municipality in the northern Brazilian state of Pará on Aug. 20 to demand access to electricity. The farmers said Norte Energia S.A., the consortium in charge of the dam, was running electric lines past their homes for the construction but wasn’t giving them access to the power. Some 300 families live in the area without access to electricity, according to Iury Paulino, a member of the Movement of Those Harmed by Dams (MAB). The residents were also demanding the construction of a bridge near the community of Volta Grande do Xingu. 

According to Paulino, this is the third time the farmers have held a protest because of the failure of Norte Energia officials to meet with them. The company says it plans to provide the residents with electricity but it needs the cooperation of the state power authority. Norte Energia claimed that the protest only held up some buses carrying workers and didn’t seriously delay construction on the dam. Protests by local residents, by the region’s indigenous groups and by construction workers have repeatedly interrupted the $13 billion project since it began in March 2012. (O Globo, Brazil, Aug. 20; Adital, Brazil, Aug. 21)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, August 25.

  1. Brazil judge suspends construction on Amazon dam
    The Brazilian Regional Federal Court for the First Region (TRF1) on Oct. 29 suspended  construction on the Belo Monte dam on grounds that environmental commitments have not been met. The decision also imposes a fine of R$500,000. Judge Antonio Souza Prudente agreed with the argument that the original license did not remain valid after construction violated environmental standards. In its consideration to grant the preliminary injunction, the TRF1 reasoned that the environmental impacts already negatively affected communities because of social tension due to the increased migration to the region and decreased quality of natural resources. Construction on the Belo Monte Dam can only resume once the Norte Energia consortium that is building the dam honors its commitments.

    From Jurist, Oct. 29. Used with permission.