Belo Monte: Battle for the Heart of the Amazon

Friday, December 18, 2009
 Victims Speak Out (Reuters)

The Victims Speak Out (Reuters)

Take action to stop Belo Monte!

The proposed Belo Monte Dam on the Amazon's Xingu River is proving to have all of the intrigue of a thriller novel. It involves the powerful Lula government, warrior tribes of the Amazon, environmental and human rights groups such as International Rivers, and even pop star Sting, who recently spoke out about the project. 

The culprit: the Brazilian government, which is trying to push through the project at all costs. So desperate is the government that two of the environmental agency's top officials resigned due to political pressure to grant the project an environmental license. 

The victims: the Kayapo and other indigenous people of the Xingu Basin, who have lived off the bounty of the river's fisheries and forests for centuries, and who have vowed to do all they can to stop the project. The Kayapo are a warrior tribe: if they say it, they mean it. 

The intrigue: Because of the opposition to the project by environmentalists and local tribes, the auction to sell off the rights to the project continues to be delayed, now until early 2010. 

The real story: One of more than 100 large dams being planned for the Brazilian Amazon, Belo Monte would devastate the rainforest and affect the lives of tens of thousands of people. What's the true cost of Belo Monte Dam? The answer is that no one knows yet. What's clear is that Belo Monte will be the one of the largest, most devastating infrastructure projects ever to be built in the Amazon. As its estimated cost rockets skyward, and the extent of its impacts over several thousand square kilometers of the Amazon become more evident, it is clearer than ever that Brazil doesn't need Belo Monte, and that the project will bring destruction, not development, to a unique region.

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