Amazon Mega Dam Controversial Saga Continues

Belo Monte Dam is a controversial mega dam being built in the Amazon on Indigenous land. The old project conceived during the military dictatorship (1964-1985), and which was revived by the Lula government, is the bête noire of Brazilian environmentalists due to the damage it will cause to a pristine region in the Amazon. It will pave the way to tens of other dams in the region.

The latest installment of the saga has been the expulsion of journalists from the site where they would cover the latest protest by indigenous activists who have brought the building of the dam to a halt.

According to Portal da Imprensa, a website dedicate to journalism news, earlier in May three reporters were barred from covering the occupation of Belo Monte’s building site in the state of Pará. Two of them were removed by around 100 policemen and a third one received a R$100 fine (US$50) and expelled from the site.

150 indigenous representatives of the affected nations affected by the dams being built on the rivers Xingu, Tapajós e Teles Pires occupied Sítio Belo Monte, the main site and demanded the works to be halted until they were heard by the federal government.

Human rights experts say the expulsion of the journalists does not make sense and is technically incoherent. They say the legal system is a pawn in the political game played by the consortium leading the construction of the dam.

The protesters left the site when a week ago a court order authorized the police to use force to evict them.

Besides all the human rights and ecological controversy, a new study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that if deforestation continues at the same rate as in the present, the power output of Belo Monte could be reduced to a mere 25 percent of the projected generation capacity.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

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