Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon

by Asociacion Interamericana Para La Defensa Del Ambiente (AIDA)
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Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Empower Indigenous Brazilians to Save their Amazon
Aerial of Belo Monte construction in the Amazon
Aerial of Belo Monte construction in the Amazon

AIDA's attorneys Maria Jose Veramendi and Alexandre Sampaio recently traveled to communities along the banks of the Xingu River, site of construction of the Belo Monte dam. They gathered testimony, photos and data to report to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights.

Not surprisingly, what they witnessed mirrors the sobering data recently reported in the New York Times that dams are hugely detrimental to the environment, and don't deliver on intended economic benefits.


Maria Jose provide a quick recap of their trip:

What was your goal?  

MJ: We were documenting the situation of the communities affected by the construction of the dam to inform the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the current situation.  This regular site monitoring is critical as the IACHR relies on organizations such as AIDA to keep them apprised of the status of cases.

What new developments have taken place since you last visited?  

MJ: The situation is getting worse. The construction is now 65% complete so the impacts are becoming more and more visible. For those groups working on behalf of the affected communities, it is becoming increasingly tense and dangerous.  [Brazilian] security forces are notable everywhere.  For the residents of Altamira, basic services are overloaded. Also, sexual violence is on the rise because of the influx of construction workers.

Are the local people being compensated for the dam's impact on their lives and communities?  

MJ:  Some people have agreed to leave their homes but Norte Energia (the company building the dam) bought them for a very nominal fee.  Others do not want to leave but are being forced to. The homes being built for relocation are not adequate for the needs of the people, and there has been flooding in these areas. Also, moving means they must change their way of life, from fishing and farming to working in any type of job that allows them to survive.  They receive no other support for their relocation.

What will AIDA be doing in response to what you observed/information gathered?

MJ: We will provide a comprehensive update to the Inter-American Commission, which details the impact and suffering of the people and communities.  It is another critical step in advancing this case, and to assuring that human rights violations are recognized and mitigated.

Thank you for your support of AIDA's work, to provide legal representation for the people affected by Belo Monte.  Your donation makes a difference!   

Now thru September 10th, Global Giving is providing a 100% match for all new recurring donations!  $10/month becomes $240 for the year!

We appreciate your contribution!

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Many of us spent a good portion of June and July focused on the excitement of the Brazil-hosted World Cup games. But not all Brazilians were so intrigued.

While almost everyone loves soccer in Brazil, many communities were distracted by socially and environmentally damaging mega-projects – including the Belo Monte Dam. For them, there is continued anger and frustration with the destructive impacts of state investment in big-ticket infrastructure.

Two well-written overviews provide perspective on the impacts of Belo Monte:

The realities affecting our clients in Belo Monte have kept AIDA’s team of attorneys focused during the World Cup. Together with partner organizations, AIDA submitted a brief to Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court. The information demonstrates that congressional approval of the Belo Monte Dam in 2005 is illegal because the government didn’t guarantee the affected communities in the Amazon their right to consultation and "free, prior and informed consent."

“This is the first time that our combined efforts have reached the Supreme Court on Belo Monte,” said AIDA attorney María José Veramendi Villa. “The situation has reached a crisis level.”

In August, two AIDA attorneys will travel to Belo Monte. They will continue to collect testimony, meet with client communities and partner organizations, and document the social and environmental consequences.

Your support has made our work possible, and this provides hope that we can succeed in ensuring that justice is served for those affected by Belo Monte.

Thank you.

Links:

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A Summary of Some of the Impacts of Belo Monte
A Summary of Some of the Impacts of Belo Monte

A year ago YOU helped us launch the biggest individual donor campaign in AIDA’s history, for our work in one of the world’s most important ecosystems - the Amazon rainforest.  This precedent-setting case will demonstrate to Brazil, and the world, that communities can not be brazenly pushed aside for economic interests. 

Your support this year has enabled us to provide the communities in the region of the Belo Monte dam construction with legal advice and training.  As well, we have advocated on their behalf before Brazilian national courts and international forums including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  At NO COST to them.

Just last week in a webinar, I described AIDA's role in pressuring the Brazilian government to comply with its own environmental impact assessment policies, and international standards for consultation with affected communities.  Furthermore, I described the social impacts on displaced communities that have already resulted in:

  • Increased poverty and associated social conflicts
  • Inadequate or unavailable health services
  • Contaminated drinking water
  • Loss of farming and fishing grounds on which families depend for food

It is estimated that Belo Monte will lead to the forced displacement of more than 20,000 indigenous people - but independent estimates double this number! The social ramifications could be massive.

This week we are asking you to close the gap on our funding goal - we have $12,500 to go.

TOMORROW - Wednesday, May 7th - starting at 9 am Eastern, Global Giving will match donations up to $1,000 at 30%, until funds run out.  This boosts every gift, making our goal more accessible!

  • Would you match or increase your gift this year?
  • Could you forward this to 5 friends asking them to join you in supporting this case?

Thank you for considering a donation!  And, for being an advocate, for the Amazon and AIDA!

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It's been one year since we launched a Global Giving campaign to help fund our work with indigenous peoples of the Xingu River basin who live in the shadows of construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, deep in the Amazon rainforest.

With your support, we have successfully raised nearly $7,500.  These funds have supported AIDA's efforts to investigate, advise, advocate, and litigate, in collaboration with and as representatives of our indigenous clients.

Recently AIDA attorneys presented information in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to question Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff about her administration's use of a legal mechanism that has resulted in suspension of lawsuits on behalf of indigenous rights to "free, prior and informed" consultation and consent.  Known as "Suspension Security" this mechanism has allowed projects such as Belo Monte to move forward in violation of the Brazilian Constitution and international human rights conventions.  Our attorneys, indigenous leaders, and other advocates argued before the IACHR that this repressive law allows Brazil's chief justices to arbitrarily overturn legal decisions that protect the environment and rights of indigenous peoples, for the purpose of economic interests.

Challenging to understand?

Yes! The work our AIDA attorneys do is often quite complicated.  And sometimes it takes years to achieve change.  But legal advocacy is a critical part of assuring protection for the Amazon and affected communities, and even global climate.

To learn more, join our lead attorney, María José Veramendi, for a one-hour webinar prestentation and Q&A:  Tuesday, April 29th at Noon PDT/3 pm EDT.  Register here and we'll send you a reminder with all details.

Also - on Wednesday, May 7th starting at 9 am EDT - Global Giving will match your donations at 30%!  Our goal is to raise another $7,500 for this work, in support of indigenous peoples and the Amazon.  

Many thanks,

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A good reason to help the Xingu people.
A good reason to help the Xingu people.

We won’t give up.

This is AIDA’s motto for defending the rights of local Brazilians who face forced relocation as construction of the Belo Monte mega-dam moves forward in the Amazon.

The Brazilian government is building the world’s third-largest dam on the Xingu River under the guise of meeting a growing demand for energy. One of the costs, according to official estimates, is the displacement of at least 20,000 people from indigenous and river communities. Their traditional lands will be flooded and their ways of life destroyed.

But the people of the Xingu won’t be drowned quietly. They have organized to stand up for their rights.

The government is so determined that it has hired spies to infiltrate the opposition movement. It has deployed public security forces to patrol the construction site and break up protests. And it plans to beef up controls in June and July, when global attention will focus on Brazil for the World Cup.

Now Brazil’s government wants to criminalize protests against infrastructure projects, even if the affected communities are only voicing their dismay that they’ve been denied a basic constitutional and internationally recognized right to have a say in what happens.

Throw in the towel?

Not us. With your donations, AIDA is working to ensure that the people of the Xingu will be assured the right to be heard, to be consulted, and to live in a healthy environment.

One focus of AIDA’s strategy is to tackle a legal instrument called Suspension of Security, which Brazil established during a military dictatorship. Higher courts have used it several times to “protect the public interest” by overruling lower courts, which, in the case of Belo Monte, have halted dam construction until the government consults and provides adequate protection and compensation for affected communities.

At the sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 10, AIDA’s attorney Alexandre Sampaio will explain how Brazil is using Suspension of Security to violate the human rights of Brazil’s indigenous peoples. Additionally, we are advocating, through the preparation and presentation of legal briefs, for the Supreme Court to reject Suspension of Security and determine that the project was illegal from the beginning. We have also asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to analyze the human rights implications of Suspension of Security.

AIDA provides all of its work free of charge to the people we help. Your donations through Global Giving provide the critical support that allows AIDA’s attorneys to pursue this challenging and important legal work, which empowers Amazon communities to defend their rights.

Please consider making another gift in support of this work, helping in our “never-say-never” fight against Belo Monte.

With great appreciation,

The AIDA Team

An opposition leader protests against Belo Monte.
An opposition leader protests against Belo Monte.
Signs of protest at a city meeting on Belo Monte.
Signs of protest at a city meeting on Belo Monte.
An indigenous family in Brazil's Xingu basin.
An indigenous family in Brazil's Xingu basin.
Construction proceeds on the Belo Monte dam.
Construction proceeds on the Belo Monte dam.

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Organization Information

Asociacion Interamericana Para La Defensa Del Ambiente (AIDA)

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AIDAorg
Project Leader:
Astrid Puentes
Lima, Brazil
$19,494 raised of $20,000 goal
 
406 donations
$506 to go
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