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Dilma Rousseff’s mega-dam to doom Brazil Indians

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The International Labour Organization (ILO) declared that the Brazilian government has failed to fulfill its obligations regarding the human rights of indigenous peoples.

In failing to consult the affected Indian population on the construction of the mega-dam at Belo Monte, Brazil has violated ILO Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, which it has ratified.

Belo Monte will be the third largest dam in the world. The Brazilian government has authorized its construction despite the unanimous condemnation on the part of the Indians, riverside communities, scientists, Brazil’s public ministry and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The mega-dam project was initiated by former President Lula Da Silva, and it was his successor Dilma Rousseff in person, former energy minister and current president of Brazil, who decided to kick start construction in January 2012 despite strong opposition.

The isolated populations of Indians—who draw their livelihood, food and medicine from the forest which will be destroyed by the construction of the dam— will suffer the most serious consequences.

The dam entails the creation of an artificial lake of 500 km2, which will engulf the territory of the Kayapo people. To operate during the dry season, it will need a reservoir to submerge an additional area covering 6,140 km2, flooding the territories of the Araweté, IgarapéIpixuna, Koatinemo, Arara, Kararaô, and Cachoeira communities.

In total, some 20 000 to 40 000 Indians will be forced to abandon their habitat by 2015. When indigenous peoples are forced off their land, they often end up on the roadside or in overcrowded reserves where violence, malnutrition, disease and suicide are rife, according to the NGO Survival. With little immunity to external diseases, the influx of migrants during the construction of the dam puts their lives at risk.

The Brazilian Public Ministry and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ordered the government to suspend construction as long as Indian rights are not respected, but the work continues with the consent of the highest Brazilian authorities.

Organizations defending the rights of indigenous peoples denounce the real risk of genocide faced by the Indian tribes of Brazil, whose government is stepping up human rights abuses in violation of its national and international obligations. [1]

The Amerindians of the Xingu basin are the victims of an economic war since the land on which they live abounds with riches coveted by multinationals, including niobium, a mineral used to develop high-strength steel for the manufacture of pipelines. While it is presented as a project intended to supply electricity to the Brazilian population, the mega-dam is actually mainly designed to provide the energy for bauxite mining in the State of Pará and its transformation into aluminum for export. In other words, the Indians of Brazil are being sacrificed by the Rousseff government in favor of a global speculative economy, the profits of which will not benefit the Brazilians.

[1]
- The rights of indigenous peoples enshrined in the Brazilian Constitution.
- The ILO Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (1989) ratified by Brazil in 2002.
- The 2011 precautionary measure 382/10 granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human rights by notably adopting concrete measures to protect the lives, health, and physical integrity of the members of the Xingu Basin indigenous communities in voluntary isolation; to protect the cultural integrity of those communities, as well as to protect those ancestral lands against intrusion and occupation by non-indigenous people and against the exploitation or deterioration of their natural resources.

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