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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


It's incredibly interesting to see how differently the same event can be reported. That was certainly the case last week when the Indians gathered to protest the building of dams along the Xingu River in the Amazon basin.

First, here is the video report from Brazil's GLOBO:

Here is how the altercation was reported to the world via the Associated Press:

Indians attack Brazil official over proposed dam


By ALAN CLENDENNING – May 20, 2008

ALTAMIRA, Brazil (AP) — Painted and feathered Indians waving machetes and clubs slashed an official of Brazil's national electric company Tuesday during a protest over a proposed hydroelectric dam.

Mobs of Indians from different tribes surrounded Eletrobras engineer Paulo Fernando Rezende minutes after he gave a presentation to a gathering debating the impact of the Belo Monte dam on traditional communities living near this small, remote city in the Amazon region.

Rezende emerged shirtless, with a deep, bloody gash on his shoulder, but said "I'm OK, I'm OK," as colleagues rushed him to a car.

It was not immediately clear whether Rezende was intentionally slashed or received the cut inadvertently when he was surrounded and pushed to the floor. Police said they were still investigating and no one was in custody.

Tensions were running high at the meeting, where about 1,000 Amazon Indians met with activists to protest the proposed dam on the Xingu River. Environmentalists warn it could destroy the traditional fishing grounds of Indians living nearby and displace as many as 15,000 people.

"He's lucky he's still alive," said Partyk Kayapo, whose uses his tribe's name as his last. "They want to make a dam and now they know they shouldn't."

Following the attack, Kayapo and dozens more members of his tribe danced in celebration with their machetes raised in the air, their faces painted red and wearing little more than shorts and shell necklaces.


From another viewpoint, here is how it was reported by The Independent UK writer PATRICK CUNNINGHAM, whose blog "Encontro Xingu ‘08" was established to cover the event:


Encontro Xingu - Day 2

Indians continued to arrive throughout the day. There are now over 600 people from 35 ethnic groups, including old friends from the Xingu Indigenous Park.

The morning saw a review of the 1989 gathering, and an emotional speech from Marcelo Kamaiura, who talked about proposals for six so-called ’small’ dams on the headwaters of the river in Mato Grosso State. His impassioned call for unity of all the people, Indian and non-Indian alike, the length of the river, drew huge applause. Riverside dwellers and small-scale family farmers reinforced this call.

The afternoon began with the arrival of a few new communities, each of which made a stirring entry, singing and Indians dancing in the hall of the gymnasium. dancing their way into the hall. Professor Oswaldo Sev√°, who lectures in engineering at Campinas University and has a long and detailed understanding about the history of the several previous attempts to dam the Xingu explained the extent of flooding local people could expect. He highlighted many shortcomings, from the engineering, economic, social and environmental perspectives. In plain language he detailed which areas would be flooded and explained the reasons why it is highly likely that Eletrobras will not stop at a single dam, which on its own would not be viable.

Next it was the turn of the Eletrobras representative, Paulo Fernando Vieira Souto Rezende. He used a bewildering series of charts, lists, statistics and maps in what appeared to be an attempt to confuse everybody in the room. In a haranguing presentation, he seemed intent on talking over the heads of his entire audience.

His approach did not go down well with the Indians, who became increasingly preoccupied as he continued. It went down no better with the small farmers and riverside dwellers, who broke into a fit of spontaneous booing and chanting in opposition to the proposals. The Indians continued to listen in silence until he had finished.

A few minutes later, the Indians suddenly rose up in unison, chanting and dancing across the room. A mixed group of warriors and women, some with babies and small children, approached the table where Rezende was sitting, chanting and brandishing their war clubs and machetes. Rezende was pushed to the floor and the Indians, their anger patent, poked at him with their weapons. His shirt was torn from his back, and he received a deep cut in his upper arm.

The police and security guards failed to respond, and it was left to the bravery of some of the organisers, who put themselves between the Indians and Rezende to protect him, receiving symbolic threats themselves.

The episode was over quickly, and order was rapidly restored.

This was not an attempt to inflict serious harm, and it is much more likely that Rezende’s injury was the result of an unlucky or over-excited jab. The Indians accused the unfortunate Eletrobras representative of lying. They were carrying war clubs and long machetes, and Rezende could easily have suffered far worse. The Indians were trying to make their point and felt they had no other option, feeling powerless in the face of this serious threat to their culture, their way of life and their homes.


Since the gathering in Altamira, the Brazilian media have focused mostly on the issue of violence. GLOBO included a special report in its extremely popular weekend TV magazine FANTASTICO and here's the text (computer) translated into rough English. As you can see, the focus is on the engineer and the Indians associated with the confrontation and there is very little about the many consequences of building the dam.

While the Brazilian mainstream media are preoccupied with the "hot" story, various blogs and NGOs have been struggling to deliver the deeper messages.

Encontro Xingu ‘08 provides great coverage of the whole event with in-depth analysis by David Cunningham and lots of wonderful photos by Sue Cunningham.

The Xingu Encounter was also reported by International Rivers along with English translations of the declarations of the Xingu Peoples.

And here's the (computer) translated final statement of the broad coalition of Brazilian grassroots organizations that are opposing building of the Belo Monte dam.


Anonymous said...

Lou, this is informative, the Native peoples are beautiful, but the story is very sad. The same old story of, "the society", meaning the civilized peoples, are more important than the indigenous peoples. We know this is not true, but it happens anyway. We can only pray for their survival and the survival of their culture. Sounds like they are already endangered by the soy bean farmers and industrialized agriculture.Thank you for all your info, photos, and videos. Mi takuye oyasin, Clem

Anonymous said...

Yes, undeniably the indigenous cause is certainly a question of humanity, they have their rigths, yes.

However, let us not be naive to a point to believe that this issue is the REAL main issue ...There's certainly a hidden agenda which becomes an issue of Brazilian national integrity, which now I start to expose.

Reports from a Parliament investigation in 1991, stated that most pro-indigenous NGO's in Amazon are secretly supported by US & UK "Stablishment", and they have hidden agendas to develop encouragement into indigenous brazilian tribes, inciting them, so that they would wish to fall apart from Brazil in the near future, declaring independence.

But ... why ?

Such indigenous reserves are atop of 98% of world's niobium ore, huge mineral strategic wealth, a strong and stiff metal, very high melting point, perfect for missiles bodyarmoury, and - most of all !!! - the ONLY suitable for future fusion reactors, which are the state-of-art high-tech device-to-be in nuclear and energy strategic fields.

This ultra-sophsticated device - with its first experimental prototype (ITAR) already being built at the cost of many billions of dollars from a selected bunch of nations in a joint project - will control the world's economical energy lifestreams, and ultimately the whole world's future, in a moment when most present energy sources are increasingly seen as costly and no-environmental.

.That's their End Game in Amazon. Rob Brazil's niobium, and control the world's future.

Plus Tantalium and thorium - the latter can be converted into Uranium through a nuclear treatment that India secretly dominates.

Ah! And a lot of gold and diamonds.

However, Brazilian Constitution declares any underground wealth to be a national wealth, belonging to the Union, only.

Why don't NGOs help southern Brazilian indigenous? Gimme a break ...

Thus presented, it's clear that such quest goes far beyond the hidroeletrical dams, and for SIX DECADES this has been considered by Armed Forces just as the hall to the Amazonian Resources War, considering the West' desperate greedy seek for natural resources - and power.

And since the 50s we have been quietly preparing to make them wonder if Vietnan wasn't really a catwalk ... They will need a lot of bodybags ...

Francisco Almeida .
Itajaí - SC - BRAZIL.

Lou Gold said...


I have heard references to this view before but I have never seen it laid out as you have presented it. I'm glad that you have placed here for people to consider.