On May 1st, members of Brazil's native tribes: Munduruku, Juruna, Kayapo, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakanã, Arara, fishermen and riverine occupied the construction site of the Belo Monte dam (the third largets hydroelectric project in the world).
Tribal leaders have occupied a primary contruction site and have requested that the Brazilian government come in, and honor a promise for 'prior consultation' as required by the constitution and removal of the military from their land. This project has been on and off the books since 1975, but was approved in June 2011.
The Belo Monte Construction Consortium claims that of 22,000 workers working on the site 3,000 are currently unable to do so.
Journalists were removed from the area and the military negotiated for the government. On day six of the occupation the Brasilian government refused to negotiate issuing a statement describing the tribal leaders as "self styled leaders" and accused one tribe the Munduruku of having ulterior motives (illegal gold mining).
The occupation has issued a series of open letters, and this is the most recent, released May 9th.
Letter No. 5
Today we write for those who support us. We write for those who trust in our struggle and agree with our view.
We are people who live in the rivers where dams are being built. We are Munduruku, Juruna, Kayapo, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakanã, Arara, fishermen and riverine. The river is our supermarket. Our ancestors are older than Jesus Christ.
We occupied Belo Monte Dam sites seven days ago. We are against the construction of large projects that destroy our lives. We want to be able to have a dialogue with the government about this. First of all they need to regulate the law about Prior and Informed Consultation, so that they can consult us before doing any study or construction in our lands. The government also needs to stop whatever they are doing in our territory and to take the troops out of it.
We are on this occupation without any support. Even the journalists and lawyers where prohibited to assist us. It’s been 5 days that we have been taking pictures ourselves. They want to intimidate us with a huge number of officers. The National Force is the ones “negotiating” with us, and telling us that no one from the government will come. They are making it harder for us to access food or infirmary; and for outsiders to come here. We are concerned about what might happen to us.
We need help
We need help. We need the organizations to support this occupation, to write appeals on our behalf, and to stand up against the government’s posture. We need Journalists to continue talking to us, even if it is from outside or by phone. We are very happy with all the coverage. We also need the population to support us. If you can’t be closer, please send a donation by Internet or bank.
It is very important to us. Help if you can. We have high hopes this time.
Learn more at ocupacaobelomonte.wordpress.com