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Despite future displacement of 50,000 people, president approves massive infrastructure project in the Amazon.

Less than two months before the Oct. 3 presidential election, in which his Workers´ Party is expected to win, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed his approval for a massive dam in the Amazon that would displace 50,000 people.

The Belo Monte dam, a more than US$11 billion-project on the Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon, would become the third largest dam in the world after the Three Gorges Dam in China and the Itaipu Dam on the border of Brazil and Paraguay. Flooding the region, a dozen indigenous peoples and scores of communities in the area would be forced to move, a prospect that has created a growing and increasingly vocal opposition to the megaproject, with activists from human rights defenders, indigenous groups and US celebrities, including “Avatar” director James Cameron.

“What is happening hear is something that we didn´t think was possible years ago,” said Lula after signed the agreement Aug. 26 with the construction company, a joint venture between state-run Compañía Hidroeléctrica do São Francisco and private company Queiroz Galvão. “The project we´re seeing now is less aggressive than the original” and “is a victory for the energy sector.”

Indigenous organization Survival International said the project would mean “the livelihoods of thousands of tribal people who depend on the forest and river for food and water would be destroyed.”

“The influx of immigrants to the area during the construction of the dam threatens to introduce violence to the area and bring diseases to these Indians, putting their lives at risk,” it added in a recent report.
—Latinamerica Press.

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