Last week over 150 indigenous people began a new peaceful protest of construction of the Belo Monte Dam complex in Brazil. Demanding respect for their legal rights and the fulfillment of government agreements to construct schools and healthcare facilities, protesters blocked access to construction workers. According to the protesters, an agreement made over three years ago to provide assistance to communities displaced by the dam’s construction has yet to be fulfilled. They also assert that the Brazilian Institute of the Environment (IBAMA) has never visited the village to assess the fulfillment of the conditions of the agreement.
While attempting to enter the offices of Norte Energia, the company managing construction, protesters were attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets fired from shotguns. This despite assurances from indigenous protesters (including women and children) that they sought only a dialogue with company representatives.
Twenty indigenous protesters approached Norte Energia and were attacked. “We told them that we were there to talk, and we tried to talk. The police did not ask anything, and said they did not want to talk and continued shooting,” stated one of the protesters. Read their complete statement (in Portuguese) [ http://www.xinguvivo.org.br/2014/05/26/indigenas-denunciam-agressoes-no-canteiro-de-belo-monte/ ]here.
Belo Monte would be the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam, and its creation would allow for further destructive mining and deforestation practices. It is one of many proposed dams that would devastate the lives and cultures of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who rely on the Xingu River and other tributaries of the Amazon for sustaining life. This includes some of the world’s last uncontacted indigenous people.