The Brazilian authorities have evicted Indians from the Belo Monte dam site, where they were protesting for their land rights.
Representatives of eight tribes had been occupying the area, demanding that the government respect their right to their ancestral land and to be consulted about projects that will affect them, and that the construction be stopped immediately.
The government initially responded to the protest by preventing journalists, lawyers, and food entering the occupation site. A judge then ruled that the Indians could be forcefully removed.
Belo Monte is currently being built despite widespread opposition by thousands of indigenous people, who warn it will devastate their land and reduce fish stocks, a crucial part of their diet.
Its construction was illegally approved, without the consent of the local population.
The Indians, including representatives of the Kayapó, Arara, Juruna and Asurini tribes, have held numerous protests in recent years, and have stated that they will defend their lands against the project at all costs. They have warned that if the construction goes ahead, the Xingu river will become ‘a river of blood’.
In an open letter published on 2 May they declared ‘We are the people who live in the rivers where you want to build dams. We are the Munduruku, Juruna, Kayapó, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakanã, Arara, fishermen and peoples who live in riverine communities. We are Amazonian peoples and we want the forest to stand. We are Brazilians. The river and the forest are our supermarket. Our ancestors are older than Jesus Christ.’