[All links in this post lead to Portuguese language pages.]
For a few hours on October 27, 2011, indigenous peoples from the Xingu region occupied the construction site of the Belo Monte dam following the global movement of “taking the streets against financial slavery, corruption and other forms of capitalist coercion” which started on October 15.
Movimento Xingu Vivo (Alive Xingu Movement) explains:
Cerca de 300 indígenas, pescadores e ribeirinhos da bacia do rio Xingu estão acampados pacificamente, desde a madrugada de hoje, no canteiro de obras de Belo Monte para exigir a paralisação das obras da usina hidrelétrica, em Altamira, no Pará. A rodovia Transamazônica, na altura do quilômetro 50, também foi interditada. O protesto não tem prazo para terminar.
Though the #OccupyBeloMonte protest intended the occupation of the plant – that belongs to the company Norte Energia – to last indefinitely, in fact it only lasted until the following day, as Professor Sonia explains on her blog, Personal Escritor:
Foi expedida ordem judicial para que saíssem, mas houve resistência. A desocupação se deu hoje, 28 de outubro de 2011, através de policiais federais e de soldados da Força Nacional.
Programmer Walter Gandarella, from the blog Pare Belo Monte (Stop Belo Monte) criticized Norte Energia (North Energy), which he calls Morte Energia (Death Energy, a play with words), for carrying out the construction of the plant without consulting or respecting the surrounding population:
Pois bem, dona Morte Energia, vocês não souberam ouvir as comunidades antes do início das obras, como manda a constituição e as leis para licenciamento ambiental, mas se dizem estar fazendo a coisa certa. É mesmo? [...]
Como quem não deve, não teme, e já que a Norte Energia alega que ouviu todas as comunidades que seriam afetadas, qual o problema em provar isto levando a público estes relatórios bem como as provas documentais de cada reunião feita com as comunidades?
Well, ‘Ms. Death Energy', you were unable to listen to the communities before the works started, as mandated by the constitution and laws for environmental licensing, but you say you're doing the right thing. Really? [...]
As one who owes nothing, fears nothing, and seeing that Norte Energia claims that it has heard all the communities that would be affected, what is the issue with proving this by bringing to the public arena these reports as well as the documentary evidence of each meeting held with the communities?
And he also criticized the Brazilian press for keeping silent about the occupation, saying that if not “the news would completely destabilize the firm position of the Government to persevere the construction of the dam”:
Muita gente, sabendo o mínimo sobre este empreendimento, já é logo contra este absurdo, imagina então se a maior parcela da população tomasse conhecimento? Realmente seria uma tragédia para os planos de “desenvolvimento sustentável” do país.
Lucas Morais, writing for Diário Liberdade (Liberty Journal), criticizes the government for the intransigence on the construction of the dam:
Mas, se o governo insiste na pauta dos Direitos Humanos, o que tem a dizer sobre os indígenas que ali têm suas terras tradicionais? E os ribeirinhos? E os mais de 300 mil habitantes da região que terão suas vidas afetadas diretamente? Será que Dilma Rousseff seguirá insistindo na pauta dos direitos humanos tendo em vista toda essa flagrante violência contra os povos originários e brasileiros?
Video from the user Midialivre (free media) on YouTube with images from the dam site occupation:
Besides several lawsuits against Belo Monte in Brazilian courts, in April the government was convicted by the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) who has pressured the government to dialogue with the indigenous and river dwellers who will be affected by the dam either directly or indirectly.
Refusing to follow the order of the Commission, the country had been once again summoned to explain itself and to negotiate with the local population in a meeting scheduled for October 26 in Washington. Once again Brazil has refused to even sending a representative to dialogue with the organizations that advocate for the victims, which may lead to a new condemnation of Brazil.
National Force intervention
The natives from Xingu have sent an open letter stating that though they had been expelled from the construction site by the so-called Força Nacional, they will keep resisting the construction of Belo Monte.
Reactions on Twitter didn't take long to appear. Blogger and translator Lucas Morais criticized the decision of the government on imposing a permanent settlement of the Força Nacional on site, to avoid new “invasions”:
Civil policeman Caetano Pacheco said that the initiative is illegal, whereas “Força Nacional is not in the Art. 144 of the Federal Constitution”:
@cp_vader: A Força Nacional é uma excrescência ilegítima criada por decreto. Não tem legitimidade conferida pela Constituição para agir como polícia.
The organization Justiça Global (Global Justice), on Twitter (@justicaglobal), informed that the Transamazônica highway had been closed, and also on Twitter the blog collective Pare Belo Monte (@PareBeloMonte) informed that there are 21 indigenous ethnic groups engaged in the occupation and struggle against Belo Monte, as well as fishermen and local farmers.
Professor Idelber Avelar pointed out that some people who showed solidarity with the occupation movement around the world were criticizing the occupation of Belo Monte:
Despite fears of violence during the night, with the indigenous groups surrounded by the riot battalion, military police and National Force, the next day the eviction took place smoothly.
A group on Facebook was created to update the occupation and the next moves of the local indigenous community who, according to note that has been widely shared by several movements, promised to resist.