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5 Oct 2015

Rodrigo Magalhaes de Oliveira, Amphibious/DeJusticia

Brazil: Indigenous leader claims authorities are ignoring "invisible" livelihood impacts of Belo Monte dam

“The Xingu Indigenous People and the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam, Brazil”, 4 August 2015

“Belo Monte is not just a dam; it’s much more than just that.” This was how Juma Xipaya referred to the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam, under construction in the Xingu River…in the Brazilian Amazon. Juma is a young Xipaya indigenous leader from the Tukamã village on the Iriri River, a tributary of the Xingu…Indigenous peoples and Altamira’s urban population suffer the negatives of a “development” that they will never be able to enjoy…[T]o struggle against Belo Monte meant…to struggle against the colonialist model of development, the territorial expropriation of ethnic groups, and the destruction of the rainforest and its rivers…Due to…[Juma’s]…involvement in the resistance efforts against the project, she suffered constraints and was…threatened. These events and the problems experienced by the indigenous community led her…to move to Belém…to study Law, where we met…Juma never abandoned the struggle…For her…[t]here are invisible impacts that silently evade the official studies and which…authorities ignore…[as]…changes in the way people live, the village landscape’s transformation, and the deterioration of traditional activities…“Our relatives live in a state of premeditated poverty,”… continues Juma…Authoritarianism is the only face of the state that the region’s indigenous people have known: police force that breaks up their protests, the judiciary that criminalizes them, and the licensing body that stays silent in the face of illegalities…Social movements, indigenous communities, the Public Ministry and NGOs…were able to…deconstructed the propaganda of hydroelectricity as a clean energy source, made public the violations experienced by local populations, and revealed large businesses’ interests behind the construction of the dams…