Indigenous Declaration After the Belo Monte Dam Auction

We, the indigenous people of the Xingú, do not want Belo Monte

We, the indigenous people of the Xingú, are here fighting for our people, for our lands, but we're also fighting for the future of the world.  President Lula said last week that he was worried for indigenous people and worried about the Amazon, and that he does not want international NGOs to speak against Belo Monte.  We are not international NGOs. 

We, 62 indigenous leaders from the villages Bacajá, Mrotidjam, Kararaô, Terra-Wanga, Boa Vista Km 17, Tukamã, Kapoto, Moikarako, Aykre, Kiketrum, Potikro, Tukaia, Mentutire, Omekrankum, Cakamkubem and Pokaimone, have already suffered many invasions and threats.  When the Portuguese came to Brazil, we indigenous people were already here, and many died, many lost their enormous vast territories, we lost many of the rights that we had, many lost parts of their culture, and other tribes disappeared completely.  The forest is our butcher shop, the river is our market.  We do not want the rivers of the Xingú to be invaded, and our villages and children to be threatened, children who will grow with our culture. 

We do not accept the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam because we understand that it will bring more destruction to our region.  We are not thinking only about the locale where they want to construct the dam, but about all of the destruction the dam will bring in the future: more corporations, more ranches, more land invasions, more conflicts, and even more dams.  If the white man continues to carry on like this, everything will be destroyed very quickly.  We ask ourselves: what else does the government want? What good is more energy after so much destruction?

We have already held many reunions and large meetings against Belo Monte, such as in 1989 and 2008 in Altamira, Pará, and in 2009 in the village Piaraçu, in which many of our leaders were present.  We have already spoken personally with President Lula and told him that we do not want this dam, and he promised us that this dam would not be shoved down our throats.  We have also already spoken with Eletronorte and Eletrobrás, with Funai, and with Ibama.  We already warned the government that if Belo Monte were built, they would have war on their hands.  The government did not understand our message and challenged indigenous people once more, saying that they are going to build the dam at any cost.  When President Lula said this, he demonstrated that he is not concerned with what indigenous people say, and that he does not know our rights.  His lack of respect led him to schedule the auction for Belo Monte during indigenous peoples' week.  

Because of this, we indigenous people of the Xingú region invite James Cameron and his team, representatives of the Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre (such as the women's movement, ISA and CIMI, Amazon Watch and other organizations). We want them to help us carry our message to the entire world and to the Brazilians who do not yet know what is happening on the Xingú.  We have invited them because we see that many people from across Brazil and many foreigners want to help protect indigenous people and the territories of our people.  Those who do this are very welcome among us.  

We are here fighting for our people, for our lands, for our forests, for our rivers, for our children and in the honor of our ancestors.  We fight also for the future of the world, because we know that these forests bring benefits not only to indigenous people but to the people of Brazil and to the entire world.  We also know that without these forests, many people will suffer, even more than they have already suffered from the destruction that has taken place in the past.   All life is connected, like the blood that unites a family. 

The world must know what is happening here, they must perceive how destroying forests and indigenous people destroys the entire world.  Because of this we do not want Belo Monte.  Belo Monte represents the destruction of our people. 

To close, we proclaim that we are ready, we are strong, we are willing to fight, and we remember the words of a letter from an indigenous Native American relative sent to the President years ago: "Only when the white man destroys the entire forest, when he kills all the fish, when he kills all the animals, and when he finishes off all the rivers, will he perceive that nobody is capable of eating money."

Author(s): Cacique Bet Kamati Kayapó, Cacique Raoni Kayapó and Yakareti Juruna

Originally published in Valor Econômico - 20 April, 2010