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After occupying the construction site of the massive Belo Monte dam for 21 days, some 300 indigenous people have left and gone home. The representatives from nine Amazonian tribes abandoned their occupation after two days of meeting with the dam's builder, the Norte Energia consortium.
Indigenous tribes end occupation of Belo Monte
July 12, 2012
Belo Monte location. Courtesy of Google Earth.
Belo Monte, if completed, will be the world's third largest dam, but has been opposed by indigenous groups and conservationists for decades. The dam will displace 16,000 people according to the Brazilian government, though critics say the number is more likely 40,000. Rerouting 80 percent of the flow of the Xingu River, the dam will change the freshwater ecosystems on which a number of indigenous tribes and local communities depend and could push several species to extinction.
Despite the end of the occupation, Amazon Watch, an NGO working against the Belo Monte, says negotiations with Norte Energia were anything but satisfactory.
"The talks failed to address the key demands of indigenous peoples relating to access to navigate the river around the dam, loss of fish and livelihoods, land demarcation, health and education programs, among others. During the talks with each ethnic group, Norte Energia offered each community a package of 'trinkets' such as TVs, boats, cameras, and computers while refusing to commit to a timetable for meeting the legally required social and environmental conditions," says Amazon Watch in a press release.
A section of the Xingu River as viewed by Google Earth.
Amazon Watch reports that the occupation was abandoned when it was announced the Xikrin people were leaving.
"Other indigenous groups decided that without the Xikrin warriors, they would end the occupation and seek other avenues of claiming their rights," the group writes. A third meeting between Norte Energia and the indigenous is scheduled for next week.
The Brazilian government has argued it needs the $11 billion dam for power generation, but its impacts on indigenous people and the environment, including flooding pristine rainforest, have made it among the world's most controversial hydroelectric projects. Last year, over half a million people worldwide signed a letter protesting the dam.
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Pictures: Destruction of the Amazon's Xingu River begins for Belo Monte Dam
(04/18/2012) The Xingu River will never be the same. Construction of Belo Monte Dam has begun in the Brazilian Amazon, as shown by these photos taken by Greenpeace, some of the first images of the hugely controversial project. Indigenous groups have opposed the dam vigorously for decades, fearing that it will upend their way of life. Environmentalists warn that the impacts of the dam—deforestation, methane emissions, and an irreparable changes to the Xingu River's ecosystem—far outweigh any benefits. The dam, which would be the world's third largest, is expected to displace 16,000 people according to the government, though some NGOs put the number at 40,000. The dam will flood over 40,000 hectares of pristine rainforest, an area nearly seven times the size of Manhattan.
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