Indigenous leaders have issued a warning that “bloodshed” is imminent now that Brazil has granted rights to build the controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the Amazon.
About 500 Indigenous people, environmentalists and other concerned citizens had gathered to protest the auction, which took place inside the offices of the National Electric Energy Agency in Brazil’s capital.
The disappoing move by the government also triggered what one Kayapo leader has desciribed as a ‘war.’
“I think that today the war is about to start once more and the Indians will be forced to kill the white men again so they leave our lands alone,” said Kayapo leader Raoni Metuktire, who acts as an ambassador in the battle to protect the Amazon rainforest. “I think the white man wants too much, our water, our land. There will be a war so the white man cannot interfere in our lands again,” he added.
Another Indigenous Leader, Luis Xipaya, warned that “There will be bloodshed and the government will be responsible for that.”
On Wednesday, Xipaya also said that a group of Kayapos have been sent to occupy the proposed dam site:
“Boats are in the process of leaving and we hope to occupy the territory tomorrow (Thursday). We will build a permanent village there and will not leave so long as the project is on.”
Chief Xipaya, who presides over a council of Elders, went on to explain that 150 Kayapos will set up the initial camp, but “we would like to number 500 by the end of the month and ask for reinforcements…. Our goal is to place 1,000 Indians there.”
UPDATE:There are atleast 10 other ongoing protests in Brazil against the Belo Monte.
Since it was first proposed in the 1980s, the Belo Monte hydro project has been at the forefront of numerous protests and gatherings led by the Kayapo and other Rainforest Peoples.
They have been consistenly opposed to the dam because it threatens to devastate a massive portion of the Amazon, divert the flow of the Xingu River and displace nearly 20,000 people from their ancestral lands. the dam will also destroy the livelihoods of more than 12,000 Indigenous people.