Brazilian Indians up against Amazon dam

December 8th, 2009 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, Dec 8 (EFE) The native Indians living in the Brazilian region of Amazonia have threatened the government against the construction of a hydroelectric dam there and said the move could result in a bloody war.
In a letter sent to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Indians blamed the government for arbitrarily deciding about building the Belo Monte dam and not realising their responsibilities towards the people living in the region.

“The Xingu River can transform itself into a river of blood. Let Brazil and the world know what can occur in the future if the Brazilian leaders do not respect our rights,” said the Indians in the letter released by the Catholic Indigenous Missionary Council.

The Indians said Monday that they are not going to talk with the government, since they have already spoken “for too long” over the last 20 years.

The letter comes after the Indians warned in November that the lives of workers at the dam site and local Indians would be “at risk”.

Belo Monte will be the second largest hydroelectric dam in Brazil after the one at Itaipu, which the country shares with Paraguay.

The dam being built in the state of Para, that is situated at the mouth of the Xingu river in the middle of the Amazon forest, will have the capacity to generate 11.233 giga watts of electricity.

The project began more than two decades ago, but was halted due to pressures from environmentalists and Indians who continue to oppose it despite the fact that the current design is much less harmful than the previous one, according to the government.

The plan includes flooding a forest area of about 440 sq km (169 square miles) that will affect 66 municipalities and 11 Indian reservations and will require the relocation of tens of thousands of local residents.

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