Manifesto by the Kayabi, Apiaká and Munduruku Against Hydropower Projects on the Teles Pires River

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In a December 2011 letter from the Kayabi, Apiacás and Mundurucu indigenous tribes to authorities of the Brazilian government, indigenous communities show that the environmental licensing process of the Teles Pires Hydropower Plant has been marred by: i) grave deficiencies in the analysis of impacts on indigenous peoples and their territories, ii)political pressures on federal agencies responsible for indigenous rights and environmental protection (FUNAI and IBAMA, respectively) to illegally approve licenses and iii) lack of free, prior and informed consultations and consent among threatened indigenous communities.

The following section of the letter from Kayabi, Apiacas and Mundurucu communities to Brazilian government authorities, regarding the Teles Pires Hydropower Project, is translated from the Portuguese original:

The indigenous component of the (Teles Pires) hydroproject, that should be part of the environmental impact study (EIA) has not yet been completed. Even so, IBAMA issued a Preliminary License in late 2010 and an Installation License for the hydroproject in August 2011. However, we are already aware of the extent of its environmental, social and cultural impacts that will affect our people. The Sete Quedas rapids, which would be flooded by the dam, is the place where fish that are very important to us go to spawn, such as the pintado, pacu, pirarara and matrinchã. The construction of this hydroproject, drowning the rapids of Sete Quedas, polluting the water and drying up the Teles Pires river downstream, would eliminate the fish that are the basis of our sustenance. In addition, Sete Quedas is a sacred place for us, where the Mãe dos Peixes ("Mother of Fish") and other spirits of our ancestors live - a place that should not be messed with.

All this is already being destroyed by explosions of dynamite at the Sete Quedas rapids as the construction of this dam of death has commenced. IBAMA issued environmental licenses without any process of free, prior and informed consultations with indigenous communities, violating rights guaranteed by article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution and ILO Convention 169, as well as other international agreements that Brazil has signed. Now, the government invites us to participate in meetings to discuss mitigation and compensation of the Teles Pires dam's impacts, yet how are we to do this if the impacts have not been duly studied and discussed, and the projecdt was illegally licensed?