Brazil has deployed troops at the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam after more than 150 Indigenous people and peasants occupied the beds of the dam and forced construction to stop for two days.
The troops were sent despite the fact that, as reported on the industry website HydroWorld.com, “The protestors ended their occupation March 22 after the plant’s operator, Norte Energia, agreed to discuss additional compensation with local groups.”
A government media release claims, “(The troops) will ensure the safety of the people, property and the maintenance of public order…” The military will be deployed at the dam for a minimum of 90 days. Infobae reports (in Spanish), “The Government did not define the number of soldiers to be sent to the remote corner of the Amazon where the dam is built, but clarified that belong to the National Security Force, a body specially trained for combat situations of public disorder.”
In a widely circulated letter, Raúl A. Montenegro, the president of Fundación para la defensa del ambiente (Foundation for Environmental Defence), says, “The isolation of the site and the ferocity of the troops will certainly create a scenario of expected violence and social invisibility.”
A delegation of Right Livelihood Award recipients will be in the area shortly and are concerned about potential violence by the military in the coming days.
The Belo Monte Dam is a project consisting of three dams now under construction on the Xingu River (a tributary of the Amazon River). Indigenous peoples affected by this dam have not been consulted (the Brazilian Federal Court has stated), up to 40,000 people could be displaced by the project, the reservoir would flood 500 square kilometres of the Amazon forest, and it would emit an estimated 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent during its first 10 years of operation. When operational in 2015, the dam will flood part of the territory of the Kayapos, and during the dry season an even larger area will be flooded affecting the territories of the Araweté, IgarapéIpixuna, Koatinemo, Arara and Kararaô people.
On Friday, the Blue Planet Project will be formally launching its new report ‘Dam Truths: A compilation of case studies about popular struggles against dams‘ at the World Social Forum in Tunisia. For more on the first release of the report on March 14 – the International Day of Action for Rivers and Against Dams – see http://canadians.org/media/water/2013/14-Mar-13.html.
Anti-dam movement activists at the World Social Forum send solidarity to those who occupied the dam site and to all of those who continue to resist this mega-project.