Brazilian government presses on with environmentally worrying dam project

Despite claims that the project would cause harm to the environment and displace thousands of indigenous people, the Brazilian government refused to suspend work in the Amazon on a hydroelectric dam.

Brazil has been asked by a part of the Organization of American State, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to stop construction on the third largest of its kind in the world, the Belo Monte Dam, until they comply with legal obligations that stipulate consulting with indigenous groups.

The consultations need to be prior, informed, in good faith, culturally appropriate and free, the commission states. One measure requested was the prevention of diseases that could spread by population flowing while the dam is under construction. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil has said the demands were unjustified and premature and that their government has complied under Brazilian law, with their obligations.

This is the latest of many battles that have been fought between the group for human rights and environmental advocates and the Brazilian government that is determined to build the dam to help with the rising demand in energy. The Xingu River through a 62 mile stretch would have its flow diverted by the $17 billion dam with environmental groups protesting that it would flood more than 120,000 acres.

Local settlements would require the relocation of up to 40,000 people with the Brazilian government saying the number of displaced would be far less. The President Dilma Rousseff despite her pledge to be sensitive to human rights issues has not wavered on her commitment to the construction of Belo Monte dam.