Brazil: protests block canal project

On June 26, nearly 1,200 people camped out on the BR 428 highway between Cabrobo and Oroco municipalities in Brazil’s Pernambuco state to block national army engineering battalions from proceeding with the construction of a canal project on the Sao Francisco river. The protesters plan to remain at the site indefinitely; they are also demanding return of the Mae Rosa estate to its rightful inhabitants, the indigenous Truka people.

All the grassroots and civic movements in the Sao Francisco river basin in the northeast of Brazil and in Minas Gerais are demanding that the federal government abandon the canal project and allow a different kind of development, geared toward benefiting the people, not capital. The communities warn that the canal project is based on false data and will only intensify water shortages by affecting the natural flow of the river; they want the government to stop battling the drought climate in the region and adopt a policy of adaptation that takes advantage of the rainy season in the semi-arid zone. Specifically, the communities have developed concrete proposals for the sustainable development of their region, and are demanding that the government shift away from the mega-projects and provide support for these community-led plans.

The latest protest is the third such encampment in defense of the Sao Francisco; in all there have been nearly 100 public demonstrations against the government’s plans for the area. (Adital, June 26)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 1

See our last post on Brazil.