Xingu Encounter - Altamira, Brazil

Monday, May 19, 2008
Kayapó women paint their faces in preparation
Kayapó women paint their faces in preparation
Glenn Switkes

May 19-23, 2008

The Xingu Encounter 2008 was a 5-day gathering of over 1,000 Brazilian Amazon Indians and their allies to protest multiple government-supported hydroelectric dam projects on the Xingu River.

Much discussion and emphasis was placed on protesting the Belo Monte Dam, whose construction would result in the displacement of 500 indigenous people and 16,000 other Brazilians. The dam would also require the construction of four additional dams on the Xingu River in order to store water during the dry season, and would destroy the natural resources upon which these local people rely for survival.

The Xingu Encounter 2008 was the largest gathering of indigenous people in the Amazon in almost twenty years. While the main focus was the Belo Monte Dam, the gathering was also an intensified follow-up to the rally of 1989 in Altamira when Amazon Indians successfully guaranteed the cancellation of World Bank loans for dams planned on the Xingu River. The river was safe for more than a decade, but it became necessary once again for the Kayapó, Parakanã, Asurini and other indigenous groups to join forces in defense of the Xingu and of their lives.