RIO DE JANEIRO – The Indians who live on the banks of the Xingu River on Monday threatened the Brazilian government with a “river of blood” if the construction of a large hydroelectric dam in Amazonia is not halted.
In a message sent to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other authorities, the Indians blame the government for what “will happen” to the workers and the indigenous peoples if the project to build the Belo Monte dam is continued “in an arbitrary way.”
“The Xingu River can transform itself into a river of blood. Let Brazil and the world know what can occur in the future if the Brazilian leaders do not respect our rights,” said the Indians in the letter, which was released by the Catholic Indigenous Missionary Council.
The Indians stressed that they are not going to sit down for talks with any representative of the government, since they have already spoken “for too long” over the last 20 years.
The letter comes after an increasing series of threats, after the Indians warned in early November that the lives of the workers on the dam and local Indians would be “at risk.”
Belo Monte, according to the plan, is to be the second largest hydroelectric center in the country after the one at Itaipu, which Brazil shares with Paraguay.
It will have the capacity to generate 11.233 gigawatts of power and will be built in the state of Para, in the middle of the Amazon jungle and near the mouth of the Xingu River.
The Belo Monte project initially began more than two decades ago, but it was halted due to pressure from environmentalists and Indians who continue to oppose the project despite the fact that the current design is much less harmful to the environment than the original one was, according to the government.
The construction plan includes flooding an area of jungle about 440 square kilometers (169 square miles) in size, which will directly and indirectly affect 66 municipalities and 11 Indian reservations and will require the relocation of tens of thousands of local residents. EFE