Brazil: Belo Monte construction stop

Chief Raoni with his feathered headdress and war paint gives an Interview The indigenous groups take no rest fighting against Belo Monte

Aug 24, 2012

“This is a great victory, the Belo Monte dam is not a done deal. We are very happy and content.”, says Antonia Melo from the union “Rio Xingu Vivo”. A judge suspended construction of the Belo Monte dam citing evidence that the dam was violating the human and minority rights of the indigenous people living near the Xingu river.

The judge Souza Prudente suspended construction on august 14th, at the request of the state Pará. Reasons were evidence citing that Norte Energía had not properly consulted and informed indigenous people prior to government approval of the project. This is not only a violation of Brazilian law, but an abuse of international Minority Rights. If the construction were to be continued contrary to the sentence, then the company would have to pay a fine of about 200.000 Euros per day.

The spokeswoman for the Union “Rio Xingu Vivo” Antonia Melo called the decision a historic victory for the country and the people near the river.

The operators in Belo Monte have been ignoring the applicable national and international laws from the beginning. They have conformed to only a few of the 40 requirements given by the Brazilian environmental authority (IBAMA) as a precondition before starting construction. Besides the Austrian company Andritz, Norte Energía gets its´ supplies from the German corporation Voith Hydro. Belo Monte is supposed to be a prestige project and the Brazilian government wants to finish the construction, with all means. Up to date all judicial decisions on the construction stop of the dam have been annuled by higher courts.

Belo Monte is the worst engineering project in the history of Brazil

The ecological and social risks of Belo Monte are enormous. An area ten times larger than the surface of Loch Ness must be clear cut from rainforest in order to be flooded for the reservoir. The decomposition of biomass caused by the flooding process will emit a large amount of the greenhouse gas methane. Not only the biodiversity of the forest is therefore in danger, but also that of the river. Around about 100 kilometers of this main tributary of the Amazon will be run dry and the dams will block many important migration routes for the fish travelling upstream.

Experts question whether the Belo Monte is even economically efficient, due to the minor flow rate of the Xingu. The Brazilian engineering journal also called Belo Monte “the worst engineering project in the history of hydroelectric dams in Brazil, and perhaps of any engineering project in the world”. On average merely 4419 megawatts of the promised 11.233 megawatts capacity will be generated by the dam.

Rainforest Rescue have supported the resistance of the Brazilian people against Belo Monte with petitions of solidarity more than once. In august 2011 we handed over more than 60.000 signatures in the Brazilian Embassy in Berlin. Thank you so much for your contribution!