Protestors paralyze construction and vow to maintain occupation until dam builders comply with mitigation requirements
Altamira, Brazil – Yesterday some 120 indigenous demonstrators from the Xipaia, Kuruaia, Parakanã, Arara, Juruna and Assurini peoples united with a group of fishermen who have maintained a steadfast 24-day occupation of the Belo Monte dam’s main work camp on the Xingu River in protest of the Norte Energia dam-building consortium’s imminent plans to definitively dam the Amazon’s Xingu River. The renewed occupation of the project’s earthen cofferdams paralyzed construction works, while indigenous protestors seized the keys of trucks and tractors forcing workers to leave the strategic Pimental work camp on foot.
According to demonstrators, the peaceful actions have taken place as a result of Norte Energia‘s complete disregard for agreements signed with indigenous peoples following an earlier occupation of the same construction site in June and July of this year, including non-compliance with a majority of legal conditions pertaining to the dam’s construction, the company’s lack of dialogue with local fishermen, and the impending threat of wide scale flooding in the nearby city of Altamira if cofferdams are built across the Xingu. Local small-scale farmers and residents of Altamira are expected to join the occupation throughout the week.
The demonstrators accuse the consortium of damming the final canal of the river without having solved the matter of how to move boat traffic from one side of the cofferdam to the other, as required by the Installation License issued by the federal environmental agency IBAMA.
According to item 2.6 of the Installation License, the final damming of the river cannot be permitted, nor can the consortium be permitted to interrupt the movement of vessels, until the provisional system providing for the transport of boats across cofferdams is fully functional.
According to the fishermen, the cofferdam, slated to extend more than five kilometers, is due to be completed in a matter of days.
“We are witnessing the devastation of this land. The island of Pimental was completely destroyed, with a sole tree left standing, and the water is putrid. It is very shocking,” said a protestor.
According to indigenous peoples, this occupation will continue until all the agreements made by Norte Energia in July have been fulfilled. The fishermen have also reaffirm their intention to remain indefinitely.