Belo Monte dam under fire from OAS
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urges Brazilian government to halt project until indigenous population is consulted.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a branch of the Organization of American States, asked the government of Brazil to immediately suspend the Belo Monte dam project, an $11-billion hydroelectric project that would flood a vast swatch of Amazon rainforest, home to several thousand indigenous Brazilians.
In an April 1 statement, the Washington-based commission said the government must comply with international regulations, including the International Labor Organizations Convention 169 on native peoples that requires the “free, prior, informed, of good faith and culturally appropriate” consultation of the indigenous people who would potentially be affected by the project.
While the request is not binding, the body does require a response from the Brazilian government. The project was approved by Brazilian lawmakers with the caveat that the local population, some of which are peoples living in voluntary isolation or are uncontacted, be consulted.
The statement was a response to a complaint lodged last November by religious, environmental and organizations, including the Indigenous Missionary Council, the Para Society for the Defense of Human Rights and the Inter-American Association for Environmental Defense. The signatories said the dam would cause “irreversible social and environmental damage, including forced displacement of communities, while threatening one of the Amazon´s most valuable areas for biodiversity conservation,” environmental group Amazon Watch said in a joint statement with three other Brazilian and international organizations.
The OAS’ decision is a warning to the Federal Government and a call to Brazilian society to broadly discuss the highly authoritarian and predatory development model being implemented in this country," said Andressa Caldas, director of organization Global Justice. She said the country´s Accelerated Growth Program, which includes the dam on the Xingu River, is also detrimental to human rights. "There are numerous cases involving the forced displacement of families without compensation, as well as serious environmental impacts, social disruption of communities, rising violence in areas surrounding construction sites and poor working conditions.” –Latinamerica Press.