July 4 will mark two weeks that the construction site of the planned Belo Monte dam in Brazil’s Pará state has been under occupation by some 200 members of the Xikrin, Arara, Juruna, Parakana and other indigenous peoples, many armed with spears. Brazilian government officials and representatives of the utility Norte Energia are slated to meet with protestors on July 9, but occupiers pledge to stay on the site at least until then. According to a statement from the tribes, 17 indigenous villages from 13 ethnic groups are now represented at the occupation, which has slowed work at the site. The occupiers demand “that construction of the Belo Monte dam be stopped until Norte Energia and the government can adequately mitigate the disastrous impacts of the dam on local indigenous communities.”
Set to be the one of the largest in the world, the dam will displace 16,000 people according to the Brazilian government, although NGOs estimate the total number of displaced will be more than double that. Initiation of the occupation corresponded with the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, which was attended by thousands of government officials from around the world. (Mongabay, July 3; Indian Country Today, June 30; AlJazeera, June 20)
See our last posts on Brazil, the Amazon and regional struggles over water.
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