Saturday, January 15, 2011


Brazil Dam Protest
Indigenous women protest against the construction of the Belo Monte hydropower dam in Altamira, 
Brazil, May 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

As Brazil rises into the status of a world power and endeavors to provide a better life for its peoples, development and environment are on a collision course with nothing less than the Amazon Forest and the role of its water cycle in global climate hanging in balance. For years the iconic struggle over the proposed Belo Monte dam has provided both the symbols and realities of this difficult situation.

Brazil's environment chief resigns over controversial Amazon dam

via Mongabay

The president of Brazil's environmental agency IBAMA has resigned over pressure to grant a license for the Belo Monte dam, a hydroelectric project on the Xingu River that faces strong opposition from environmental groups and indigenous tribes, reports O Globo.

Abelardo Bayma Azevedo, the head of IBAMA, reportedly refused to grant the license due to environmental concerns. Azevedo was said to be under pressure from the country's Ministry of Mines and Energy to approve the license.

Azevedo's resignation is strikingly similar to Marina Silva's resignation as Minister of Environment in 2008. She too was pressured by development interests intent on expanding dams and mining in the Amazon.

Belo Monte is among the most controversial of some 146 major dams planned in the Amazon basin over the next two to three decades. The dam, which will be the world's third largest, will flood 500 square miles of rainforest and displace at least 12,000 people in the region. Scientists say the dam will block a critical corridor for migratory fish and trigger greenhouse gas emissions from rotting vegetation. $17 billion project is fiercely opposed by indigenous groups, which say it will destroy livelihoods and ruin their way of life.

Here's an excellent background video...

You can take take action with an international English language petition prepared by Amazon Watch or with a Portuguese language petition prepared by Avaaz.

There's more in-depth analysis of the current political situation at the International Rivers blog of Zachary Hurwitz and more background information at o eco Amazonia.


Rhino said...

Thank you for posting this, Lou. I have posted it on my Facebook page to get more people aware of the situation in the Amazon and to sign the petition to stop the building of the dam. Blessings to you!!!

Hambone Littletail said...

I was all set to sign this petition, until I realized that it said I was from the United States (on my way to Ecuador). Do you REALLY believe for one minute that the government of Brazil -- now led by the former Minister of Energy, if I remember correctly -- gives a damn what folks from the Evil Empire of Hypocricy think about this issue? If anything, it will give them more of an excuse to go forward with this unstoppable tragic boondoggle. For what it's worth (and I doubt it's worth anything), I posted these videos on my own Doomsday Prophecy Youtube page, Humptydumptytribe. Since I have no hope for this project, the Amazon rainforest, or this planet, I will close with the words of one of my heroes, David Brower, who wrote 17 years ago: "The solution is simple. We must go back to the world's ravaged places and bind up the wounds we've inflicted. We must do our best to restore the natural world to something like it was 200 years ago, before we monkeywrenched nature. Otherwise, we are out of here." I'm sure the Brazilian government, in its short-sighted greed, will find new slums to house these 12,000 displaced folks. Question is, where are we gonna house the other seven billion of us when the REALLY big flood hits?

Lou Gold said...


That's why the post offered a choice of two petitions -- one international and the other Brazilian. The point is that, in our shrinking world, the future is both Brazilian and global.

Thanks for mentioning David Brower. He is also one of my heroes and, of course, his prescription for "earth CPR" was and is correct.