Update from the Amazon: No consultation, No construction!

By Berklee Lowrey-Evans
  • Thanks to colleagues at Amazon Watch and Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre for this information and the translation of the letter below.

Indigenous protestors are once again occupying the construction site of the Belo Monte Dam in the Brazilian Amazon to shed light on how hydroelectric mega-dams cause serious environmental and social impacts and destroy the way of life of the region's peoples and traditional communities. For example, the construction of Belo Monte will cause 100 km (60 miles) of the Xingu to dry out on the river's Big Bend if completed. In the case of the hydroelectric dams planned for the Tapajós River, the ancient riverside villages of the Mundurukú people would be completely flooded.

Indigenous protestors occupied the Belo Monte Dam construction site in early and late May 2013 to protest the government's lack of consultation with affected communities thorughout the Amazon.
Indigenous protestors occupied the Belo Monte Dam construction site in early and late May 2013 to protest the government's lack of consultation with affected communities thorughout the Amazon.
Photo courtesy of Ruy Sposati via mundurukudenuncia on Flickr

This is the second occupation of Belo Monte's construction site in less than a month. On May 2nd the indigenous protestors occupied the same work camp and stayed there for eight days. They left the last occupation peacefully because the federal government ensured that there would be a negotiation, which did not happen. In this case the protestors guarantee that they will maintain their occupation until representatives of the federal government talk with them and meet their demands.

Indigenous people also criticize the presence of the military's National Force in the region in order to ensure safety of teams carrying out environmental impact studies for dams on the Tapajós River.

In addition to the police officers who were already housed within the construction site to ensure the protection of Belo Monte, other contingents of police have been arriving at the occupation site.

See the latest letter from the occupation below:

Letter No. 7: Federal Government, we have returned

We are indigenous Munduruku, Xipaya, Kayapo, Arara and Tupinambá people. We live in the river and the forest and we are opposed to the destruction of both. You already know us, but now we are more.

You (the Government) said that if we left the construction sites of Belo Monte, we would be heard. We left peacefully – and prevented you from the shame of using force to take us out of here. However we were not heard. The government did not receive us. We called Minister Gilberto Carvalho and he did not come.

Waiting and calling did not work for us. So we again occupied your construction sites. We didn’t want to be back in your desert of holes and concrete. We have no pleasure in leaving our homes and our lands to hang our hamocks in your buildings. But how not to come when that could mean we losing our lands?

We want the suspension of studies and the construction of dams that flood our territories, cut the forest down the middle, kill the fish and scare the animals, and open the river and the land to the devouring miners. That will bring more companies, more loggers, more conflicts, more prostitution, more drugs, more diseases, more violence.

We require that you consult us about this construction before it begins, because it is our right guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution and international treaties. This right was disrespected here in Belo Monte, on the Teles Pires River, and it’s not being complied with on the Tapajós River as well. It is not possible that all of you will continue repeating that indigenous people were consulted. Everyone knows that this is not true.

From now on, YOU (the Government) has to stop telling lies in press releases and interviews. You need to stop treating us like children: naive, irresponsible, and manipulative. We are indigenous people and you need to deal with it. You also need to stop lying to the press that we are fighting with the workers: they are sympathetic to our cause! We wrote a letter to them yesterday! Here at the construction sites we played soccer together every day during the last occupation. When we left, a worker to whom we gave many necklaces and bracelets told us: “I’ll miss you.”

We have the support of many relatives in this fight. We have the support of all the indigenous people from the Xingu. We have the support of the Kayapo. We have the support of the Tupinambá;  the Guajajara; the Apinajé; Xerente; Krahô, Karaja; Xambioá-Tapuia; Krahô-Kanela; Avá-Canoero; javaé Kanela from Tocantins and Guarani. And the list is growing. We have the support of the national and international society even though that bothers you – you are alone with your campaign donors and companies interested in craters and money.

We occupied your construction sites again – and how many times will we need to do this until your own law is respected? How many restraining orders, fees, possesion orders will cost you until you hear us? How many rubber bullets, bombs and pepper sprays do you plan to spend until you admit that you are wrong? Or will you kill again? How many indigenous will you kill besides our relative Munduruku, from the Teles Pires, simply because we do not want dams?

And do not send the National Force to negotiate for you. Come yourselves. We want Dilma to come talk to us.

Belo Monte construction sites, Altamira, May 27th, 2013.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013