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Brazil: Belo Monte Dam Case Comes to Court
Written by João Miguel LimaTranslated by João Miguel Lima On 21 October 2011 @ 9:32 am | 6 Comments
In Brazil, Development, Digital Activism, Environment, Feature, Indigenous, Latin America, Law, Politics, Portuguese, Video, Weblog
This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon. 
[All links lead to Portuguese language pages except when otherwise noted]
The Brazilian justice system has provided new fuel to the protests against the Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant, after its construction begun in June 2011  [en]. A lawsuit filed in 2006 by the Federal Public Ministry of the state of Pará (MPF/PA) was brought to court on October 17  at the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region, in capital Brasília.
The lawsuit questions Act 788/2005 by the National Congress, which authorized the construction of the dam without previously consulting the indigenous peoples of the municipality of Altamira and neighboring areas. Consultation for this kind of construction is a constitutional right expressed in Article 231.
This video produced by Movement Xingu Vivo Sempre with the indigenous peoples of the Xingu river shows their dissatisfaction with the Belo Monte project and their demand for the protection of their lifestyles [pt]:
MPF/PA has published a website ‘Belo Monte – problems with the project and the MPF’s actions ‘, on which one may follow news articles, lawsuits and evaluations concerning the dam. One of the links is to the blog Belo Monte de Violências  [word play with Belo Monte which translates to ‘Beautiful Mountain of Violence’], edited by MPF/PA prosecutor Felício Pontes Jr.
The blog has trigged controversy; on the page, Pontes Jr published the judicial background of the case and articles he wrote to criticize the project and public civil actions. On top of that, he aggregated the link to a petition against the dam, a banner of Movimento Xingu Vivo Sempre and the video ‘Defending the Rivers of the Amazon ‘, which exposes the project’s impact.
In early September, Norte Energia S.A. (NESA), the company responsible for the construction of the dam, filed a lawsuit  against Pontes Jr, requesting him to be kept away from the case and the link to his blog to be removed from MPF/PA’s website.
There are several lawsuits currently filed in the justice system requesting the interruption of the power plant’s construction. One of these was filed by Altamira City Hall, together with the MPF/PA. At first, the Mayor of Altamira supported the project, but now she argues the conditions of the agreements have not been respected and the city has faced several problems since  the dam was approved.
In late September, the Federal Public Ministry of Pará declared on its Twitter profile:
The City Hall argues :
Os estudos preliminares ao empreendimento criaram um sonho de uma Altamira de primeiro mundo, com uma infraestrutura urbana e saneamento nunca antes imaginada por nossa sociedade. Não pode agora a nossa população ver transformado este sonho em pesadelo, e passar a acreditar que essa obra só veio para agredir o meio ambiente e trazer miséria para a já sofrida população de Altamira.
Teachers, students and the church of the neighboring city of Vitória do Xingu are also dissatisfied with the disrespect of condictions to license the project and have demanded a public audience to discuss this, according to the Xingu Vivo website .
The 12th Public Civil Action against Belo Monte comes from local farmers, as Twitter user Verena Glass declared on October 4:
The most effective legal action against Belo Monte  was the prelminary injuction of September 27, which interrupted the works on the Xingu river. The action came from the Altamira Association of Breeders and Exporters of Ornamental Fish (Acepoat). As the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) had previously authorized the Acepoat to perform fishing on the Xingu river, the license for the dam is thus incompatible, as it limits access to the river and will alter the region’s fauna.
Belo Monte, human rights and indigenous people
The dam’s initial impact has mainly been felt among the indigenous of the Xingu region; according to Xingu Vivo , malaria and child mortality have increased among them, as this population receives a poor service. Illegal deforestation has also been more frequent.
For all these reasons, journalist and blogger Leonardo Sakamoto has said  Belo Monte is the “stone on the speech” of President Dilma Rousseff, regarding her historical speech on the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, in late September (reported  [en] by Global Voices). Sakamoto stresses  the government's need to give an answer to the appeal issued in early April  by the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights concerning the protection of indigenous communities, and other groups.
On September 30, Kayopó “Cacique” Raoni, a resident of the Xingu river, was at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, where he declared in a video that he “will never accept Belo Monte”. The video has been translated into Portuguese in audio, and has subtitles in English:
The last great protest against the power plant took place in August and reached international proportions  [en]. The movement Xingu Vivo Sempre, one of the most active voices against Belo Monte, made an incitement via Twitter on October 11, linking the protest against the plant to the global protest of October 15.
Porque Belo Monte é um projeto que vai na contramão do desenvolvimento que respeita a vida.#reasons15o 
Youtube user rodrigoguim1  published a video [pt] of the “Acampada Indígena” (Indigenous Camp) of October 15, in São Paulo:
A new campaign aims at pressuring the Federal Regional Court (TRF1) to bring to trial the 12 lawsuits against Belo Monte. The campaign’s website  ‘TRF1, the responsability to prevent crimes in the Xingu is yours!’ points out email addresses of the three judges who are analyzing the MPF/PA's case. The trial has been postponed, and remains to be rescheduled; it will be resumed at the most optimistic analysis  [pt], after a period of 15 days.
This post is part of our special coverage Forest Focus: Amazon. 
Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org
URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/10/21/brazil-belo-monte-court/
URLs in this post:
 Forest Focus: Amazon.: http://globalvoicesonline.org/specialcoverage/forest-focus-amazon/
 construction begun in June 2011: http://globalvoicesonline.org/?p=248669
 brought to court on October 17: http://www.prpa.mpf.gov.br/news/2011/trf1-vai-julgar-direito-dos-indios-a-serem-consultados-sobre-belo-monte
 Belo Monte – problems with the project and the MPF’s actions: http://www.prpa.mpf.gov.br/news/2011/noticias/2010/noticias/belo-monte-os-problemas-do-projeto-e-a-atuacao-do-mpf
 Belo Monte de Violências: http://belomontedeviolencias.blogspot.com/
 Defending the Rivers of the Amazon: http://www.youtube.com/user/xinguvivoparasempre
 filed a lawsuit: http://www.prpa.mpf.gov.br/news/2011/belo-monte-norte-energia-quer-afastar-procurador-do-caso-por-manter-blog
 Image: http://pele-da-terra.deviantart.com/gallery/?offset=0#/d42tgo4
 several problems since: http://globalvoicesonline.org../2011/08/20/brazil-construction-starts-on-controversial-belo-monte-dam/
 @MPF_PA: http://twitter.com/#%21/MPF_PA/status/119133552087535618
 http://bit.ly/r35c37: http://bit.ly/r35c37
 argues: http://www.xinguvivo.org.br/2011/09/30/prefeitura-de-altamira-recorre-ao-mpf-para-suspensao-da-licenca-de-belo-monte/
 Xingu Vivo website: http://www.xinguvivo.org.br/2011/10/04/vitoria-do-xingu-quer-audiencia-sobre-condicionantes/
 @VerenaGlass: http://twitter.com/#%21/VerenaGlass/status/121225049867960320
 http://bit.ly/oauebT: http://bit.ly/oauebT
 effective legal action against Belo Monte: http://www.redebrasilatual.com.br/temas/ambiente/2011/09/justica-determina-paralisacao-parcial-de-obras-de-belo-monte
 Xingu Vivo: http://www.xinguvivo.org.br/2011/10/06/malaria-mortalidade-infantil-e-desmatamento-desenfreado-impactam-indigenas-em-altamira/
 Leonardo Sakamoto has said: http://blogdosakamoto.uol.com.br/2011/09/21/belo-monte-e-a-pedra-no-discurso-de-dilma/
 reported: http://globalvoicesonline.org../2011/10/03/brazil-dilma-speech-un/
 stresses: http://blogdosakamoto.uol.com.br/2011/10/19/oea-convoca-brasil-para-se-explicar-sobre-belo-monte/
 the appeal issued in early April: http://blogdosakamoto.com.br/2011/04/05/oea-solicita-suspensao-imediata-de-belo-monte/
 reached international proportions: http://globalvoicesonline.org../2011/08/24/brazil-belo-monte-global-action/
 the protest for real democracy: http://www.democraciarealbrasil.org/
 @xinguvivo declared: http://twitter.com/#%21/xinguvivo/status/123745673546960897
 #reasons15o: http://twitter.com/#%21/search?q=%23reasons15o
 user rodrigoguim1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QjFKkgHpSz8#!
 campaign’s website: http://www.xinguvivo.org.br/2011/10/11/campanha-%E2%80%9Ctrf1-a-responsabilidade-de-evitar-crimes-no-xingu-e-sua%E2%80%9D/
 at the most optimistic analysis: http://www.prpa.mpf.gov.br/news/2011/com-1-voto-favoravel-ao-mpf-julgamento-de-belo-monte-e-adiado
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