From Ecological Disaster to Constitutional Crisis: the Long Struggle Over the Xingú Dams Comes to a Climax at Belo Monte
By TERENCE TURNER
Once again, the indigenous peoples of the Xingú valley in the Brazilian Amazon are planning to make the long journey to the town of Altamira, where the Trans-Amazonica highway crosses the Xingú. Their ultimate destination will be the island of Pimental a short distance downriver from the town, where the Brazilian government plans to build a huge hydroelectric dam they call Belo Monte after the nearest Brazilian village. The Indians' bold plan, is to prevent the construction of the dam by building a new village directly on top of the proposed dam site and maintaining their occupation until the government abandons its plans for the dam. The planning for the encampment is being led by the Kayapo, the largest and most politically organized of the indigenous nations of the region, but other indigenous groups are also participating.
The Kayapo, however, are not waiting for the discussion of the plan for the encampment among the 23 indigenous groups of the Xingú Valley to reach consensus. They have already seized the ferry that carries Brazil Route 80, an important link in the Trans-Amazonica highway system, across the Xingú River at the Kayapo village of Piaraçú. The ferry and the river crossing are now under guard by armed Kayapo warriors, who have announced that they will continue their blockade until the government negotiates with them about their plans for the Belo Monte dam.
This will not be the first indigenous encampment ... read more ...