Join the Campaign in Defense of the Xingu River
Hydro Dams Story 55

Join the Campaign in Defense of the Xingu River

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John Ahni Schertow
February 9, 2010
 

The Brazilian Environmental Justice Network has launched an international campaign to demand President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and other Brazilian authorities put an end to the controversial Belo Monte hydro-electric dam in Para state.

Since it was first proposed in the 1980s, the Belo Monte hydro project has been at the forefront of numerous protests and gatherings. For instance, in 2008, the Kayapo and other Rainforest Peoples came together for the historic Xingu Forever Alive Encounter.

A similar event occurred in 1989 which ultimately led to the project’s abandonment. Unfortunately, it was soon placed onto the agenda once again without any significant alterations.

Once completed, the Belo Monte dam would devastate a massive portion of the Amazon rainforest, divert the flow of the Xingu River and destroy the livelihoods of more than 12,000 Indigenous people.

Last week, the Brazilian Environment Ministry (IBAMA) granted an environmental license for the dam.

Following the move, the Kayapo issued a letter to President Lula renewing their stance against the project; stating, in part: “We don’t want this dam to destroy the ecosystems and the biodiversity that we have taken care of for millenia and which we can still preserve.”

Several human rights and environmental groups have similarly renewed their own opposition to the project.

According to Survival International, Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office has also stepped in, calling for the license to be canceled because the environmental impact studies were incomplete and because the Indigenous population and others who would be affected by the dam were not consulted.

Unless the project can be halted once again, construction is expected to begin in late 2010.

Media Contacts

What You Can Do

1) Sign a Petition in Support of the Xingu River

2) Take part in the Brazilian Environmental Justice Network’s campaign by sending the letter below (in Portuguese) to these officials:

  1. Emails: casacivil@planalto.gov.br, gabinete@mme.gov.br, carlos.minc@mma.gov.br, roberto-messias.franco@ibama.gov.br
  2. Cc: deborah@pgr.mpf.gov.br, jose.coimbra@mme.gov.br, secex@mme.gov.br, see@mme.gov.br, ouvidoria.geral@mme.gov.br , vitor.kaniak@ibama.gov.br, izabella.teixeira@mma.gov.br, rbja@fase.org.br

LETTER — ENGLISH

To President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Energy Minister Edison Lobao
Environment Minister Carlos Minc
President of IBAMA Roberto Messias Franco

Cc: Attorney General of the Republic Mrs. Deborah Duprat
Executive Secretary of the MME Márcio Pereira Zimmermann
Chief of Staff of the MME Corrêa José Antonio Coimbra
Executive Secretariat of the MMA Izabella Teixeira Mônica Vieira
Secretary of Electric Energy MME Josiah Matos de Araujo
Chief of Staff of IBAMA Sr Vitor Carlos Kaniak

Dear ________ ,

We would like to express our extreme concern over the decision of this government to build the power plant of Belo Monte, and our indignation at the process of exclusion of civil society in the debate, and what is most serious, the exclusion those who will be directly impacted by the construction of the plant, to which the peoples of the Xingu River Basin have been subjected, who will be directly impacted by the construction of the plant.

We are especially concerned about the disregard on the part of government, the conclusions of the IBAMA opinion, a fundamental part of this process that should be, but is not being made available on the agency web site as part of the environmental licensing process of Belo Monte. In this opinion, IBAMA technicians state that, given the time frame stipulated by the office of the President, several analyses could not be done in depth, for example, those relating to indigenous issues and the contributions of public hearings. They also stated that the studies presented do not present complete information about the maintenance of biodiversity, the navigability and the living conditions of the populations on the portion of the river where flow would be reduced. Also, the impacts resulting from population influx were not scaled properly.

Also the analyses on the Environmental Impact Study of Belo Monte made by the Panel of Specialists, which brings together researchers from the country’s prestigious universities indicate the economic inviability of the project, its negative impact on the indigenous and riverine populations and the social chaos that would be caused by the migration of more than 100 thousand persons to the region and the forced displacement of more than 20 thousand persons. Such impacts, according to the Panel, are increased by the underestimation of the affected population and the underestimation of the Directly Affected Area. These same studies show the impacts on fish and aquatic fauna indicating the possibility of extinction of species and the emission of large quantities of greenhouse gases.

We rightfully call for an environmental and socially responsible position of the planning agencies, control and environmental management of the country which should protect the rivers and follow what the Constitution establishes in reference to informed consultations in good faith with indigenous peoples affected by the project, and amplified discussion with the entire society. Yet, what we see is the defense and support of these organizations in construction of a project of such high impact as Belo Monte.

We therefore support the demand of the people of the Volta Grande do Xingu so that in stead of the construction of this massive dam, there be prioritized the consolidation of the family farming project in this region, initiated in the 1970s, by means of planned environmental and land tenure, of infrastructure for the settlements, of recomposition environmental liabilities, improvement of the quality of life for residents of the rural and urban areas, as well as the implementation of Extractivist Reserves.

Out of respect for the rights of the peoples of the Xingu Basin, we respectfully call for review of the recent decision to grant the environmental license for the Belo Monte project. We are in alliance with the peoples of the Xingu in this cause and opposed to any project that threatens the preservation of Amazônia and of future generations.

Respectfully,

Name, organization, institution (if applicable)

LETTER — PORTUGUESE

Ao Sr. Presidente da Republica Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Ao Sr. Ministro de Energia Edison Lobão
Ao Sr Ministro do Meio Ambiente Carlos Minc
Ao Sr. Presidente do IBAMA Roberto Messias Franco

Cc: A Subprocuradora geral da Republica sra Débora Duprat
Ao Secretário-Executivo do MME Márcio Pereira Zimmermann
Ao Chefe de Gabinete do MME José Antonio Corrêa Coimbra
A Secretaria Executiva do MMA Izabella Mônica Vieira Teixeira
Ao Secretario de energia Elétrica do MME Josias Matos de Araujo
Ao Chefe de Gabinete do IBAMA Sr Vitor Carlos Kaniak

Prezados/as senhores/as,

Vimos por meio desta manifestar nossa extrema preocupação com a decisão deste governo de construir a Usina Hidrelétrica de Belo Monte, bem como nossa indignação com o processo de exclusão da sociedade civil no debate, e o que é mais grave, a exclusão dos que serão diretamente impactadas pela construção da Usina,a que estão submetidas as populações da Bacia do rio Xingu, que serão diretamente impactadas pela construção da Usina.

Nos preocupa, em especial, a desconsideração, por parte desse governo, das conclusões do parecer do IBAMA, uma peça fundamental deste processo que deveria, mas não está sendo disponibilizada no site do órgão como parte do processo de licenciamento ambiental de Belo Monte. Neste parecer, técnicos do IBAMA afirmam que, em vista do prazo estipulado pela Presidência, não puderam aprofundar diversas análises, como, por exemplo, as referentes a questões indígenas e as contribuições das audiências públicas. Também afirmam que os estudos apresentados não apresentam informações que concluam acerca da manutenção da biodiversidade, a navegabilidade e as condições de vida das populações do trecho da vazão reduzida. Igualmente, os impactos decorrentes do afluxo populacional não foram dimensionados a contento.

Também as análises sobre o Estudo de Impacto Ambiental de Belo Monte feitas pelo Painel de Especialistas, que reúne pesquisadores e pesquisadoras de renomadas universidades do país, apontam a inviabilidade econômica do projeto, seu impacto negativo sobre a população indígena e ribeirinha e o caos social que seria causado pela migração de mais de 100 mil pessoas para a região e pelo deslocamento forçado de mais de 20 mil pessoas. Tais impactos, segundo o Painel, são acrescidos pela subestimação da população atingida e pela subestimação da Área Diretamente Afetada. Esses mesmos estudos revelam os impactos sobre peixes e fauna aquática apontando a possibilidade de extinção de espécies e as emissões de grandes quantidades de gases de efeito estufa.

Exigimos uma posição ambiental e socialmente responsável dos órgãos de planejamento, controle e gestão ambiental do país, que deveriam proteger nossos rios e seguir o que estabelece nossa Constituição no que se refere à realização de consultas informadas e de boa fé às populações indígenas afetadas pelo projeto e debate ampliado com toda a sociedade. No entanto, o que vemos é a defesa e o apoio desses órgãos à construção de um projeto tão impactante como Belo Monte.

Por isso, apoiamos a demanda dos povos da Volta Grande do Xingu para que no lugar da construção dessa grande represa, seja priorizada a consolidação do projeto de agricultura familiar nessa região, iniciado nos anos 1970, através do ordenamento fundiário e ambiental, da infra-estrutura para os assentamentos, da recomposição do passivo ambiental, da melhoria da qualidade de vida dos moradores das áreas rurais e urbanas, assim como a implementação das Reservas Extrativistas.

Em respeito aos direitos das populações da Bacia do Xingu, exigimos que seja revista a recente decisão de conceder a licença prévia para o projeto de Belo Monte. Estamos em aliança com os povos do Xingu nessa causa e contra todo e qualquer projeto que ameace a preservação da Amazônia e das futuras gerações.

Atenciosamente,

Name, organization, institution (if applicable)

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