Gauteng and NW Province

Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam to Displace Thousands in Amazon

Jun 18, 2012

Belo Monte Dam will be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric project and will displace up to 20,000 people while diverting the Xingu River and flooding as much as 230 square miles of rainforest in Brazil. The Brazilian government says residents forced to relocate will be compensated and that most will benefit from the relocation. Opponents of the dam are skeptical of this claim.

While environmentalists and indigenous groups oppose the dam, many Brazilians support the project. The Brazilian Amazon, home to 60 percent of the world’s largest forest and 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen, remains threatened by the rapid development of the country. The area is currently populated by over 20 million people and is challenged by deforestation, agriculture, mining, a governmental dam-building spree, illegal land speculation including the occupation of forest reserves and indigenous land and other issues.

Over 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of participants and protesters will descend on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, later this month for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or ‘Earth Summit’. Host Brazil is caught up in its own dilemma between accelerated growth and environmental preservation.

Indigenous people from the Kuruaia and Xipaia tribes march during a ceremony honoring the Xingu River before the start of the Xingu +23 event that gathers resisters of the Belo Monte dam project in the Amazon basin on June 13, 2012 in Santo Antonio, near Altamira, Brazil. Santo Antonio is adjacent to where the Belo Monte dam complex is under construction and the entire community will be expropriated for the construction. Around 60 families originally lived in Santo Antonio but now only about ten families remain. Xingu +23 is an event running parallel to the United Nations Rio + 20 event and marks 23 years since the first meeting of indigenous peoples opposed to the dam in 1989.

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