Amazon Indians and environmental activists rallied against proposed Amazon dam projects in the city of Altamira, Brazil on Tuesday. Environmentalists say these developments could displace 15,000 people and destroy traditional fishing grounds of Indians living nearby. As a result of economic growth in Brazil in recent years, the government is spending $296 billion to develop the hydroelectric projects.
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: At least 1,000 Amazon Indians and environmental activists rallied against proposed dam projects on Tuesday in the city of Altamira, Brazil. The protesters say these developments could destroy the traditional fishing grounds of Indians living nearby and displace as many as 15,000 people.
BEKWAJ KAYAPO, INDIAN LEADER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The Xingu River has lots of fish for us. If the dam is approved, the fish will all go under and we won’t be able to catch any more fish.
TARCISIO FEITOSA, ACTIVIST (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Afterwards thsoe people will become peasants who will have to destroy the forest to plant food crops.
NKWETA: Tensions ran high when the Amazon Indians met with activists to protest a proposed dam on the Xingu River. The Associated Press reports that an official from the National Electric Company was injured on Tuesday. Engineer Paulo Fernando Rezende was surrounded by different tribes after giving a presentation debating the impact of the dam on the environment and nearby communities. It was not immediately clear whether he was intentionally slashed, and police have no suspects. The Brazilian government said the proposed hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River will supply the country with an estimated 11,000 megawatts of electricity. As a result of the economic growth in recent years, they are spending US$296 billion to develop huge hydro-power dams.
ARISTIDES DOS SANTOS, TRUCK DRIVER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Brazil will need lots of energy or else we won’t get foreign investment in our country. This will always remain a backwards region, only for the Indians. Indians don’t produce anything.
NKWETA: Environment Minister Marina Silva’s resignation last week has spurred concerns that President Lula da Silva’s government will accelerate developmens in the region.
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