Belo Monte :
Chief Raoni's petition

BELO MONTE: the field for a “new paradigm” where blood sheds and violence predominates

BELO MONTE: the field for a “new paradigm” where blood sheds and violence predominates

© Gert-Peter Bruch

Close to Altamira, in the State of Para, the construction of Belo Monte’s  hydroelectric power plant began in 2011, and it continues in violence. The Xingu River is already turning red and nonpotable. Antonia Melo, the spokesman of the movement, Xingu Vivo Para Sempre that gathers locals and natives from the Xingu River basin, asserted that the construction of the flood barrier is causing social chaos in the region of Altamira - a city close to the flood barrier - indicating an exponential increase of violence.

In fact the migratory movement triggered by this construction is the cause of an increase in violence among the 11 municipalities directly affected by the hydroelectric power plant: drug trafficking, rape, threats, illegal weapon carrying, blatant crime, and assaults on people surged in the police statistics Fear is growing among the population and the storekeepers in Altamira, the most important city in the Belo Monte area. This city has a population of 100,000 inhabitants, and according to the local police data of Xingu, those people saw an increase of 62% in the number of infractions, and the number of weapon seizure rose 379% between 2010 and 2011.

Many demonstrations happened since the beginning of the construction work.

On October 31, 2011, Megaron Txucarramãe, the most charismatic and influent of the Kayapó’s leaders (nephew of the Cacique Raoni) the regional coordinator of the FUNAI (National Foundation of the Indian), the equivalent to a ministry dedicated to native populations, was dismissed from the position he occupied since 1995 in Colider, Mato Grosso. Megaron asserted that his eviction is due to his opposition to the construction the government programmed of hydroelectric power plants , including Belo Monte. Questioned by the Folha in São Paulo, the director of the FUNAI did not want to comment on the decision which, according to the Fondation, has nothing to do with Belo Monte.

The first demonstration occurred on October 27, 2011, with several hundreds of natives, fishermen, locals and farmers occupying the construction site and an access road. Very quickly, a court judgment gave the occupiers the order to leave.


Following Rio+20 that gathered more than 1,800 natives against the industrialization of Amazonia, the Belo Monte’s flood barrier was occupied by angry natives. Some of them are inherently opposed to the construction of this flood barrier. Some others are dissatisfied with the agreement signed by Norte Energia because it does not keep its promises about relocating dislocated people and to pay for the damages.

At the same time, violent attacks occurred repeatedly in Para and Mato Grosso do Sul’s states where a majority of native populations live. Many NGOs keep denouncing the persecutions committed to the populations defending their land and their access to water.

The CIMI (Conselho Indigenista Missionário) - Brazilian NGO – already published a report about the violence perpetrated against the native populations in Brasilia in 2011. This account reports more than 1,700 acts of violence against people, of which 60 are murders, especially in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but also in the state of Para, where the Belo Monte’s plan would be established.

For instance, Raimundo Anilton Alves da Silva from the people Tembé, was assassinated in June 2010, but there are also José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva, who were both defenders of the environment and they both were shot by two hired gunmen, after being trapped in an ambush. The native leaders from the different populations in Altamira have been directly threatened during a meeting with the company, Electronorte, which was in charge of Belo Monte’s project in June 2010. A native activist called Sheyla Juruna was violently attacked in November 2011. Other industrial projects in Mato Grosso do Sul, like the cane sugar plantations on the Guarani’s lands, caused threats and murders such as the assassination of the leaders, Guarani-Kaiowá and Nisio Gomes. Those examples confirm the fact that the violence situation against the defenders of the populations’ rights continues.

Planète Amazone warned the UN Human Rights Council about these acts of violence with a declaration co-written with the Fondation France Libertés ; it was released on February 23, 2012 in order to be examined by the Assembly during the 19th session.

The working conditions at the Belo Monte building site are extremely harsh. From November 2011, strikes multiplied. Every time, more workers are laid-off and kicked out - 141 in November and 80 in December. The last strike in April 2012 gathered 7,000 workers who went through a very strong-arm repression from military forces. Some journalists witnessed this situation, and they compared the working conditions of the workers to those of the forced labor, such as the working time, the unsanitary accommodation conditions, delayed salary, waiting a whole day under the sun without anything to eat to be paid, military supervision… 

-  by Valérie Cabanes (translated from French to English by Audrey Predessac) -

By threatening the heart of the amazon forest, the BELO MONTE dam is standing in the way of our future.

Say "no" to the Belo Monte dam - Sign Chief Raoni's petition