|Kayapó Indians protesting against the Belo Monte dam |
© T Turner
The Brazilian government’s Indigenous Affairs Department, FUNAI, has issued an order restricting entry to an area of land near the site of the planned Belo Monte dam, following indications that there are uncontacted Indians living there.
But despite recognizing the presence of uncontacted Indians near the site where the dam is due to be built, FUNAI has given its approval for the project to go ahead.
FUNAI has also declared that for the next two years, only a team of its own employees will be permitted to enter the area, in order to study the presence of the uncontacted Indians.
If built, the Belo Monte dam would flood a large area of land, bring huge devastation to the rainforest and reduce fish stocks upon which the Indians rely for their survival.
The uncontacted Indians in the area are particularly threatened by the large-scale immigration the dam construction would bring, as they have little resistance to outside diseases, which could be fatal for them.
Indians of the Asurini tribe who also live in the area have warned that they have seen uncontacted Indians in the forest, and that these Indians are seriously threatened by the dam.
Meanwhile, the president of the Brazilian government’s environmental agency IBAMA, Abelardo Bayma, resigned last week, reportedly following pressure to grant the construction license for the Belo Monte dam despite environmental concerns.
Brazil’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Edson Lobão, has stated that the construction license for the dam will be issued shortly. It is thought that construction could commence in February this year.