Kayapo Damned: Brazil government OKs hydro plant, condemns 40,000 lives

A desperate picture: Brazillian Kayapo tribes take to Western courts to protest the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam that will wipe out their land and homes. Image Credit: cultofthedeadfish.blogspot.com

A desperate picture: Brazillian Kayapo tribes take to Western courts to protest the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam that will wipe out their land and homes. Thumbnail Credit: cultofthedeadfish.blogspot.com

Brazilian president Dilma Roussef has given approval to build a hydroelectric plant – the third largest in the world – at Belo Monte on the Xingu River in Brazil‘s northern Amazonian region.

The region is currently home to huge local communities, totalling 40,000 people, the majority of whom will be flooded out when water levels eventually eradicate 400,000 hectares of ancient forest and towns.

Despite this, and despite significant protest from the tribal communities in Western courts – no mean feat, mind you – approval was passed without the slightest resounding outcry from the world.

It pisses me off that globally we care more about stopping Internet Copyright laws like SOPA and Protect-IP than the lives of 40,000 human beings‘ homes in the name of business profits.

The Amazon region should belong to the world, as the Internet does, and the world should get pissed off at things threatening it just as if your local government signed papers that meant they could build a highway through your house whenever they felt like.

What’s about to happen to the Kayapo community will be more devastating than the 2011 Queensland Floods.

Yet this time, it’s deliberate, and it’s OK.

“While newspapers and television talk about the lives of celebrities, the chief of the Kayapo tribe received the worst news of his life: Dilma, “The new president of Brazil, has given approval to build a huge hydroelectric plant (the third largest in the world). It is the death sentence for all the people near the river because the dam will flood 400,000 hectares of forest. More than 40,000 Indigenous Indians will have to find another place to live.

The natural habitat destruction, deforestation and the disappearance of many species is a fact.”

The reaction of the chief of the Kayapo community when he learned of the decision— was to break down into sobs of helplessness before the advance of capitalist progress:


This is the price Western countries pay for your “quality of life”. The hypocracy levelled at governments who wouldn’t dare try this on a first world citizens utterly reeks of racism, discrimination, crimes against humanity, biased laws and total ignorance of land rights. If this kind of stunt were to be pulled on a person like you and your home today, the entire world would know about it overnight and all hell would break loose.

But 40,000 Brazillians? Nup. Fuck them.

Sign the AVAAZ Petition to stop the dam here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/amazon_under_threat/ 

According to Brazil’s Environment Minister, Carlos Minc, the construction company heading the project will be forced to spend around $800m (£501m) in order to offset environmental damage caused by the project.

Note: this is the real consequence of the global carbon offset initiative. Quantifying enormous, irreversible environmental damage into a single monetary payment that makes it all OK.

Meanwhile, loads of spin and propaganda are being spewed forth as the government goes into damage control:

Minister Of Environment Carlos Minc told Brazilian TV stations, “There is not going to be an environmental disaster. Not a single Indian will be displaced. They will be indirectly affected, but they will not have to leave indigenous lands.”

Without question, that claim is not one anyone is taking to the bank.

He is, of course, backed up by Roberto Messias, the head of Ibama, Brazil’s government-funded environmental agency, who justifies the construction with this amazing statement:

“Many of them currently live in wooden riverside shacks. They are likely to benefit from the dam’s constructions.”

The comment seems to greatly slight these native people who have lived for so long without the need of “benefit” from people like Messias or the government.

This dam is the supposed ‘alternative’ to what the corporations really want to build… nuclear power plants.

Plans on the drawing board for nuclear power facilities in Brazil were tossed in the trash after the Fukushima, Japan nuclear facility melted down. However successful efforts in Brazil to prevent the construction of these facilities only seems to have led to another disaster, and this one, affecting indigenous tribes, requires no tsunami to set it off.

Since this empathic photo above was released by the media, finally, the story is beginning to gain some attention. Hundreds have begun occupying the construction site on behalf of the Kayapo people, while hundreds of thousands are pledging their support by signing this online petition:

Sign the AVAAZ Petition to stop the dam here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/amazon_under_threat/ 

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Categories: Business, Crime, Multiculturalism, People

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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31 Comments on “Kayapo Damned: Brazil government OKs hydro plant, condemns 40,000 lives”

  1. Kat
    February 17, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    This is apalling and disgusting.
    It is unescessary.
    Destroying our living breathing planet because insane psychopathic cleptomaniacs who have a stranglehold on our planet keep supressing free energy technologies so they can continue their depraved orgy of wealth and power has to stop.
    When will the knowledge get through that we are an interconnected organism and that this is destroying ones own self, like cutting out and eating ones own lungs?

    • James Hill
      February 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      They’re building a hydroelectric dam, which is one of those “sustainable” energy sources people keep harping on about.
      I agree entirely that this part of the earth should be preserved, but I also believe we need to compensate Brazil adequately for preserving the area. If it “belongs” to the world then the world should pay for its upkeep. Otherwise, aren’t we being hypocritical in relentlessly developing our own land and then preventing other countries from doing the same?

      • February 21, 2012 at 10:23 am #

        Good point. But that’s very complex, for instance, how much does the world owe Brazil’s economy? It costs nothing to do nothing to an area, so how do you measure the loss of “potential” funds if the logging and development of the entire Amazon were allowed? All 7 million square kilometres of it? Or just a portion? Maybe the world needs to give more authority to an independent international body to stop illegal logging? Like…. Greenpeace? Do we compensate businesses who only log legally, or do we take into account how illegal logging aids their economy? Brazil’s policing / control of logging is clearly very corrupt if (reportedly) 20,000 sq miles (51,799 sq km) is logged per year. If those figures are accurate and don’t accelerate, the Amazon will be 50% it’s current size in 67 years.

        • James Hill
          February 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

          There aren’t any easy answers, which is why I suspect people are just content to let Brazil slowly deforest the whole area. Without some kind of agreement in place, what right do we have to tell Brazil not to do this? Especially when the world seemed content to let China create the three gorges dam that essentially did the same thing we’re criticizing Brazil of doing: it uprooted countless communities and caused lasting harm to the environment.

          • February 24, 2012 at 10:36 am #

            *nods* I guess it comes down to whether Brazil think the Amazon, as a tourist attraction / wonder of the world, makes them enough money. Which is saaaad.

    • June 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

      ill tell you what,if i had a ride and a few high powered rifles,i would be the Kayapo’s new army.this is more than sick and sad,this is a crime.what electric company is doing this?i want to know so i can smear their name all over the hell they are making out of this world,im so enraged i can hardly contain myself

  2. Anonymous
    March 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Capitalism at its finest
    This is extremely reminiscent of the United States during the 19th Century, when rapid economic and industrial expansion stipulated the demise of the indigenous people and venerable land marks.
    This is, irrefutably, a legalized crime against humanity conducted under the name of capitalist expansion. And of course, no western nation gives a flying fuck because the exponential growth of Brazil’s affluence will benefit the united states tremendously. Even to this day and age, the deliverance of morale and justice is second to the deliverance of material wealth.
    And I highly doubt that will change drastically until the day humanity ends.

  3. March 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Capitalism at its finest
    This is extremely reminiscent of the United States during the 19th Century, when rapid economic and industrial expansion stipulated the demise of the indigenous people and venerable land marks.
    This is, irrefutably, a legalized crime against humanity conducted under the name of capitalist expansion. And of course, no western nation gives a flying fuck because the exponential growth of Brazil’s affluence will benefit the united states tremendously. Even to this day and age, the deliverance of morale and justice is second to the deliverance of material wealth.
    And I highly doubt that will change drastically until the day humanity ends.

  4. Anonymous
    March 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    Hydroelectric dams are “sustainable”? On what planet? NOT THIS ONE. If you think power is sustainable, let’s build a dam or strip mine in YOUR back yard. Decreasing the power consumption needs/wants of the dominant culture is the best answer to this complicated question. Stop demanding so much in the marketplace. Buy and live local. Buy used whenever possible. Stop our demands on government services and start boycotting them and their services whenever possible, including schools. Occasionally blow something up, like a dam or substation. Use solar power if you must, but even that is flawed- the panels themselves are toxic to produce. Wind power is cleaner; a blight on the landscape but at least it’s only an EYESORE and doesn’t cause MOUTH SORES by polluting the local water supply. If it’s created and used locally, the wind turbines are a reminder to the local population that power comes at a price: something we don’t see nearly enough, as evidenced by these disturbing photos. To take the title from a very popular adult/children’s book and put a little twist on it: WAKE THE FUCK UP.

    • June 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

      only the Kayapo ,who have taken care of the land there for all of their generations,DONT USE ELECTRICITY,SO WHY MUST THEY PAY ANY PRICE??theyre one of the only groups lefyt that arent contributing to the unbridled slaughtering and raping of the earths resources,and THEY get removed from THEIR LAND??IN WHAT UNIVERSE IS THAT JUSTICE??UN AGENDA 21 DEPOPULATION AT ITS FINEST.GOOGLE AGENDA 21,THE MOTHER OF ALL THESE SUSTAINIBILITY PROJECTS

  5. John
    March 16, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    I really doubt the socialists in Brazil are acting any differently than capitalists in this situation. But trying to blame this on capitalism, and saying that a former member of a Marxist guerilla group is being too capitalist is pretty funny.

    But hey, if you want to see the world through your black and white Marxist prism, be my guest.

  6. Jennifer
    March 20, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    This is such an excvellent article about development induced displacement in Brazil

    The World Bank estimates that forcible “development-induced displacement and resettlement” now affects 10 million people per year. According to the World Bank an estimated 33 million people have been displaced by development projects such as dams, urban development and irrigation canals in India alone.

    India is well ahead in this respect. A country with as many as over 3600 large dams within its belt can never be the exceptional case regarding displacement. The number of development induced displacement is higher than the conflict induced displacement in India. According to Bogumil Terminski an estimated more than 10 million people have been displaced by development each year.

    Athough the exact number of development-induced displaced people (DIDPs) is difficult to know, estimates are that in the last decade 90–100 million people have been displaced by urban, irrigation and power projects alone, with the number of people displaced by urban development becoming greater than those displaced by large infrastructure projects (such as dams). DIDPs outnumber refugees, with the added problem that their plight is often more concealed.

    This is what experts have termed “development-induced displacement.” According to Michael Cernea, a World Bank analyst, the causes of development-induced displacement include water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agricultural expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.

  7. Anon anon
    April 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    See that roof over your head … did you build it yourself? If not, you are a beneficiary of development-induced displacement. There is nothing happening to the Kayapo that didn’t happen to millions of others in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Blame capitalism? Really? Would the Kayapo have been treated better under a Communist dam building project? Not likely.

    Population redistribution is inevitable as long as the human population continues to increase. Is it fair? It depends on your perspective. Are you ready to give up that roof over your head? What right do you have to it? Is it fair?

  8. Flavia Araujo
    April 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    I appreaciate your article and the perspectives you bring, specially to a English-speaking virtual world that ignores (in all the ways and meanings) the basic rights ancestral peoples have been fighting for all over the world, in particular in Latin America. I just don’t like the notion that “The Amazon region should belong to the world”… The Amazon region should belong to those who have been there and taken care of it for many centuries now. And the Brazilian government and the international organizations should guarantee that. The world should care and take care of it, yes.
    Thanks for bringing up the discussion and the awereness.

  9. April 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Just saw this on the Guardian website – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/22/brazil-rainforest-awa-endangered-tribe

  10. miguel
    May 24, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    i think it is hilarious how people can go on moaping about how bad they feel for the tribes in brazil as they type this on their computer on a soft cushion in a coffee shop drinking beans from brazil -_- and most of the people on this article who took the time AGAIN to feel for a tribe are screaming for attention for themselves, did you know the land you stand on was already inhabited by “savages” but in your terms they retaliated against your capitalist ancestors, as anon said, you yourselves are capitalists, and in such, you had to kill, rape, and relocate them, in order to get what you want, 95% of the native american population was wiped out by disease, not battle, aw hell no, as if Europeans even had the intelligence in order to survive in americas climate without the indigenous help, in turn they returned to spain and britian and eventually claimed all of the northern continent merely by spreading their disease, so my friends, dont feel so bad for the Kayapo, the land you Mortgage your house on probably has a few underground -_-

    • Me
      May 26, 2012 at 4:05 am #

      So they should all go back to Europe then?

    • May 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      Some of us would like to think that a large enough percentage of us have morally moved on as a species… at least in the first world. Sadly, not.

  11. July 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    I will tell you what if i could go back in time i would rather live like them than now no bills no polution no money worries and hardley any ailments just living off the land , i am with them all the way leave them alone .

    • July 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      you can do that right now Sharon. Just leave all your wordly goods behind, go into the jungle and live like a native.

      • All Lies
        January 30, 2013 at 11:36 am #

        No shit eh 😛 pack the fuck up and go try hun. Thank god i didnt grow up in a city *whew*

  12. Sean
    November 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    Sorry, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil belongs to Brazilians; it does not “belong to the world”. I am more “worried” about SOPA and copyright laws in America because that affects me more, not the relocation of a bunch of indigenous tribes. Of course, I really don’t give two hoots about SOPA or copyright laws (you don’t care if you’ve ever pirated even one piece of music or a movie), but the point still stands that it’s an internal Brazilian problem.

  13. Gerry
    November 29, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    This is what happens when we have a president who gives billions of dollars of American taxpayer stimulus money that was supposed to create jobs here to Brazil (for hydroelectric plants and oil drilling, which he won’t support here), to Mexico (for windmill farms), and to China (for Chinese traffic lights), among other countries he gave our stimulus money to. It is a type of capitalism, to be sure, but we have to look to the one doing it and lay the blame where it falls. Because it is labeled “green” “renewable,” or “sustainable,” it is okay to look the other way as 40,000 Kayapo and others lose their homes and their ancestral grounds. Is it any different here though? Only in the scope. In June 2005, the Supreme Court of the USA ruled that “local governments have the authority to seize private land and turn the property over to private developers for economic development.” According to CNN, “Government’s authority to condemn land for public use traditionally has been used to eliminate slums or build highways, schools and other public works. But Tuesday’s 5-4 ruling found that local officials can use their “eminent domain” power to condemn homes in a working-class neighborhood for private development in hopes of boosting tax revenue…” Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer (all the Democrat/Liberal judges) voted to ALLOW the government to confiscate private property and give it to big corporations that will pay more taxes. O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas (All the Republican/Conservative judges) voted NO, supporting the rights of the people. Just a fact. And by the way, while sending stimulus money to other countries to support such projects, here in our own country Obama paid windmill farms NOT TO PRODUCE energy. Google it if you don’t believe it.

  14. Anonymous
    January 27, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    why use that very old picture of the chief supposedly crying ? its 2-3 years old and he was not crying about the dam.

  15. All Lies
    January 30, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Cause its FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE AND GAY. I call bullshit

  16. June 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    I read this post completely about the difference of
    hottest and preceding technologies, it’s remarkable article.


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