For indigenous and local communities along Brazil's Xingu River, life is changing forever. Construction of Belo Monte, what will be the world's third-largest dam, is displacing them from their homes, polluting water and ruining traditional fishing grounds on this major tributary of the Amazon. AIDA is helping the communities by providing legal aid, training and resources so they can develop strategies to defend their rights and protect their native cultures, livelihoods and Amazon environment.
This daunting $11 billion dam will flood forests and critical ecosystems, impacting and displacing thousands of indigenous people, many of whom have never had contact with the larger world. Other communities will lose access to water, food, jobs and river transportation, destroying their traditional way of life. The communities have little recourse against the power and resources of the Brazilian government and project developers. More than 100 other dams are also proposed for the Amazon Basin.
As the government has refused to comply with national court orders to stop Belo Monte, AIDA and our Brazilian colleagues are representing the Xingu people before international human rights authorities. We work directly with the communities to document violations and enforce national and international law for environmental and human rights protection. Our efforts have brought initial advances, but more needs to be done to convince Brazil to protect the Amazon and these vulnerable communities.
Brazil wants to use the dam to meet growing energy needs. This includes powering proposed large-scale mining and other extractive industries that would bring yet more environmental and social problems. By ensuring that communities have legal representation and know how to use the law, AIDA is enabling near-term and long-term protection of human rights and conservation of the Amazon. The Belo Monte case can set a precedent for truly sustainable energy development throughout the Americas.
Amazon Watch video on the impact of Belo Monte
AIDA 2014 Annual Report