As Na’vi activists in Texas continue to obstruct Keystone XL plans,
so too, Na’vi indigenous activists obstruct construction of an enormous dam on the Amazon in Brazil — AGAIN.
Yuri Kozyrev – October 2012
by Michael Sturhenburg
On Tuesday 9 October, around 80 “warriors” in full war paint and armed with bows and arrows, clubs and lances occupied a construction site for the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant on the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon in Brazil.
In a cloak-and-dagger operation, the native Indians stormed the Pimental cofferdam, chased off around 900 construction workers and took control of a large number of trucks and Caterpillar construction vehicles.
Head of the Indian campaign Jair Xipaia, a 24-year-old chief with a blue macaw feather headdress, said: “The vehicles will serve as hostages in our upcoming negotiations with [construction consortium] Norte Energia. If the talks stall, or if there is no sign of goodwill from the other side, we will increase the pressure by executing two, three or more hostages.” Execution here means covering the vehicles with gasoline and setting them alight. Protesting native Indians initially occupied the Pimental construction site for three weeks in July this year. In August, a court in the Amazonian state of Pará imposed a construction freeze that was withdrawn shortly afterwards.
The Belo Monte project, which has been in the pipeline for 30 years, remains controversial. Opponents of the 13 billion euro project — including celebrities such as the rock star Sting, the actress Sigourney Weaver and the film director James Cameron — accuse President Dilma Rousseff’s government of turning a blind eye to the consequences of Belo Monte, to both the fate of the native tribes affected and the ecological future of the Amazon region. Erwin Kräutler, the Austrian-born bishop of Altamira, a city near the construction site, said: “Belo Monte is a dagger in the heart of Amazonia.”
For the occupiers of the Pimental Dam, the issue has long since moved on from being a simple “for or against” the construction of the power plant. The negotiations are now purely about the type and size of compensation payable to the Indians. Xipaia says Norte Energia has “reneged on promises it had already made”. The consortium believes Belo Monte is vital for the further development of the Brazilian economy, the sixth biggest in the world. With a generating capacity of 11,233 megawatts, the plant is set to be the world’s third-biggest hydroelectric plant — after the Three Gorges Dam in China and the Itaipu Dam on the Brazil-Paraguay border — and cover 11 percent of Brazil’s power requirement.
A spokesperson for Norte Energia said: “Belo Monte will supply 16 million Brazilians with electricity. These people will have the chance to move out of poverty into the middle class.”
Here’s from an earlier occupation in June 2012.