Kayapó Indian leader Raoni Metuktire arrived in Europe last week and has appealed for support for his tribe, which is campaigning against the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu river in the Brazilian Amazon.
Raoni said, ‘I have always prevented my people from fighting, but I am very worried now. It is time that we take back what belongs to us’.
He added that ‘3,000 warriors’ are ready to take up arms.
Raoni met French ex- President Jacques Chirac and asked that he and the current President Nicolas Sarkozy urge President Lula of Brazil not to allow the dam to be built.
If constructed, the dam would be the third largest in the world and it would flood a large area of land, dry up certain parts of the Xingu river, cause huge devastation to the rainforest and reduce fish stocks upon which Indians in the area depend for their survival.
The influx of immigrants to the region during the construction of the dam threatens to introduce violence to the area and bring diseases to these Indians, putting their lives at risk.
The Indians have organized many protests against the dam. Most recently, they have blockaded a ferry which crosses the Xingu river and are planning to form a ‘multi-ethnic community’ which will occupy the area where the dam is due to be built, in the ‘Big Bend’ of the Xingu river.
Raoni and other Indian leaders stated, ‘We do not accept the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam because we understand that it will bring more destruction to our region… more corporations, more ranches, more land invasions, more conflicts, and even more dams. If the white man continues to carry on like this, everything will be destroyed very quickly… We already warned the government that if Belo Monte were built, they would have war on their hands’.
Kayapó leader Megaron Txucarramãe, in a letter to the international press, said, ‘We want the plans to build the Belo Monte dam to be canceled… Lula has shown himself to be the Indians’ number one enemy…We Indians are being seriously abandoned, since we Indians, the first inhabitants of this country, are being neglected by Lula’s government which wants to destroy us’.
Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office is calling for the license for the dam to be canceled, stating that the environmental impact studies were incomplete, and that the Indians and other people who will be affected were not properly consulted.
Write a letter to Brazilian President Lula, urging him to suspend the plans to build the dam until and unless a project which will not negatively impact the Indians’ lives has been designed.