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Latino Daily News

Friday June 3, 2011

Groups Call the Approval of ‘Monster Dam’ in Brazil a “Tragic Day for the Amazon”

Groups Call the Approval of ‘Monster Dam’ in Brazil a “Tragic Day for the Amazon”

Photo: The proposed site of the Belo Monte dam

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Amnesty International and a number of other groups hoping to protect both the rainforest and indigenous people of Brazil, have urged the Brazilian government to suspend – or in some cases stop – the building of the Belo Monte dam, as they say it violates the human rights of the indigenous people.

Even celebrities have come out against the dam, which has been in planning for thirty years. Sting, actors Sigourney Weaver and Joel David Moore, and major Hollywood director James Cameron have brought awareness to the issue Cameron called “a real life” Avatar. The director even produced a video entitled “Message from Pandora” in opposition to the dam. (It can be viewed below.)

If all goes according to plan, construction of the dam is set to be completed in 2015.

The following are excerpts from a press release issued by Amazon Watch, a nonprofit organization that strives to “protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin.”

The Brazilian government has issued the full installation license allowing the Belo Monte Dam Complex to break ground on the Amazon’s Xingu River despite egregious disregard for human rights and environmental legislation, the unwavering protests of civil society, condemnations by its Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) and the request for precautionary measures by the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The license was granted by Brazil’s environmental agency IBAMA despite overwhelming evidence that the dam-building consortium Norte Energia (NESA) has failed to comply with dozens of social and environmental conditions required for an installation license.

The risky $17 billion Belo Monte Dam Complex will divert nearly the entire flow of the Xingu River along a 62-mile stretch. Its reservoirs will flood more than 120,000 acres of rainforest and local settlements, displace more than 40,000 people and generate vast quantities of methane – a greenhouse gas at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The installation license will allow for NESA to open access roads, initiate forest clearing at dam construction sites encompassing some 2,118 acres, and begin construction on the complex immediately…

“This is a tragic day for the Amazon,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director at Amazon Watch. “By turning a blind eye toward the tragic consequences of this dam, President Dilma Rouseff is undermining the positive environmental and social advances Brazil has made in recent years and miring its image on the global stage just as it prepares to host the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit next year.”

“Belo Monte’s installation license is a sign of the government’s deepening authoritarianism, as it continues to steamroll over environmental legislation and human rights,” said Antônia Melo, a spokeswoman for the Xingu Alive Forever Movement (MXVPS). “The government seeks to build this dam at any cost in order to benefit corporate interests at our expense. We will not cede an inch. This license is the entryway to a crime that we will prevent from being committed at any cost.”

To read the release in its entirety click here.

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