Belo Monte: Did the President of Brazil's IBAMA Make Racist Remarks?

Zachary Hurwitz

Curt Trennepohl approved the Belo Monte installation license in June 2011
Curt Trennepohl approved the Belo Monte installation license in June 2011

In early July, a rather courageous 60 Minutes Australia reporter confronted IBAMA President Curt Trennepohl in Brazil about the agency's polemic approval of an installation license for the Belo Monte Dam.  Mr. Trennepohl's off-camera comments made him sound like an apologist for genocide – rather damaging to the credibility of an environmental agency.  The video was even removed from YouTube, presumably following the complaints of someone in the Brazilian government.  Below, we've embedded the relevant section of the televised report so you can watch and judge for yourself:

Mr. Trennepohl's comments are only the latest problem for troubled environmental agency IBAMA during the Dilma administration.  As I wrote in this blog in January, the credibility of IBAMA has worsened after the institute buckled under pressure from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Eletrobras, and Dilma herself to issue an installation license for Belo Monte despite developer Norte Energia, S.A failing to fulfill the dam's social and environmental conditions.  Sources tell us that the IBAMA Presidency regularly edits dissenting opinions out of technical reports, and grants licenses for dams based on the investment calendars of developers, rather than environmental legislation.

Apparently, Mr. Trennepohl seems to have little concern about the impacts of mega-dams on indigenous people in the Amazon.  Apparently, that's FUNAI's job.  Yet, we all know how that's gone: back in February, the President of FUNAI also recommended to IBAMA that Belo Monte be built, contradicting, similarly, the conclusions of its own technical reports.