Amazon Indians have been squaring up to the mighty corporations and the state in a bid to prevent the construction of a series of hydroelectric dams that are planned for the Xingu River.
The officials are claiming that the construction plans are part of their sustainable energy drive but in reality it’s difficult to see how concreting, flooding and connecting immense power lines through thousands of miles of forests – forests that everybody in the world must now know are absolutely vital natural resources – can be considered as part of an environmentally-friendly initiative.
The dams will swallow up large areas of the rainforest, they will destroy rare fish species and will ultimately impact the lives and livelihoods of thousands of indigenous people living in the area who depend on the fish, the animals and the clean water of the rivers:
‘We are indigenous people of the Xingu and we don’t want this dam on the river. We want the fish and the fauna and flora, we want the river to be clean, we want water that feeds us and quenches our thirst. We’re not holding back the country’s progress. We’re defending our rights to life, to our land, and to our way of life.’ Ikpeng people.
It’s not the first time they’ve fought against such plans. Rock-singer Sting attracted international condemnation to similar plans back in 1989:
“In 1989, our parents defeated a similar proposal with the help of the international media. Now it is back. But we are ready to fight again. This time we speak their language, and we are more determined than ever,” Chief Bocaire.
Of course the officials are using emotional language to support their capitalist venture by claiming that it will provide jobs and boost the economy but there are wider implications and the dam-builders and the government ministers are failing to see the bigger picture. Around 15,000 people will be displaced by these plans and in true warrior spirit, the people have issued a stark warning . . .
For more information visit the Xingu River website.