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Belo Monte Dam: The Pressure is Rising
Brazil, Apr 15 2010
It's been a fabulous couple of weeks for the campaign to stop the massive Belo Monte Dam on the Amazon's Xingu River. Momentum is building - in public opinion, in the courts and in the legislature - so much so that a Federal Court yesterday suspended the project's development!
It all started last week when construction giants Odebrecht and Camarga Correa
- no strangers to controversial dam projects - announced that they were not interested in building the project because it was not economically viable at the price
set by the Brazilian government. This has left the government scrambling
to find other potential bidders for the project, resulting in delays in the
date for finalizing expressions of interest in the project.
But President Lula may have more on his hands than he
bargained for. On Monday, James Cameron and Sigourney
Weaver lent their star power
to the campaign, joining a protest of more than 700 dam-affected and indigenous
people in Brasilia to demand the cancellation of the project. James Cameron
said he was being "drawn into a situation where a real-life Avatar
confrontation is in progress. What's happening in Avatar is happening in Brazil
and places like India and China, where traditional villages are displaced by
big infrastructure projects."
As if the prayers of Monday's protestors were heard,
yesterday a Federal Court ordered the suspension of Belo
Monte's provisional environmental license and the cancellation of the auction, scheduled for
next Tuesday. The decision is in response to a civil action filed by Brazil's
Federal Attorneys, who claim that the project violates a section of the
constitution concerning the exploitation of water resources on indigenous
lands. This is a huge setback for the government, who will presumably appeal
the decision to a higher court.
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