Amazon Indians Rally to Oppose Xingu Dams in May: Journalists Invited

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Press Advisory

One Thousand Amazon Indians will Rally to Oppose Xingu Dams: Journalists invited to Mass Gathering of Indigenous People in May

The largest indigenous gathering in the Brazilian Amazon in nearly twenty years will take place between May 19 and 23 in the city of Altamira, Pará, to demonstrate opposition by indigenous peoples and their allies to hydroelectric dams being planned for the Xingu River. Journalists from all over the world are invited to attend the gathering, which is expected to bring together 1,000 indigenous people from the Xingu and other regions of the Amazon, in addition to riverbank dwellers, urban populations, and small farmers.

The Xingu Encounter comes at a time when new studies are under way for Belo Monte Dam, which would be the world’s third largest hydroelectric project (11,181 MW), on the Xingu River. The gathering could mark a decisive moment for the alliance of indigenous people, environmentalists and social movements who oppose damming the Amazon. Also taking part in the five-day meeting will be international organizations, technical experts, and Brazilian public officials.

The Xingu Encounter is a long overdue follow-up to an historic gathering in Altamira in February 1989 when the Kayapó and other indigenous groups from the Xingu Basin mobilized to reject the Brazilian government’s plans for a series of six hydroelectric dams on the river. That gathering led to the cancellation of a World Bank loan for the dams and plans to dam the Xingu were suspended for more than a decade. In recent years, Brazil’s energy planners have once again focused on damming the rivers of the Amazon, with 70 large dams being planned for the Amazon Basin by the year 2030.

Organizers of the event are concerned that Belo Monte would require diverting water from a 90 km stretch of the river which is home to more than 500 indigenous people, which would affect the Xingu’s fish resources, and threaten the people’s survival. The government claims that Belo Monte will be the only project built on the Xingu River, yet independent technical experts doubt this. They claim that Belo Monte Dam would be very inefficient, generating little or no energy during the Xingu´s low-water period, which lasts about four months each year.

The organizing committee for the event is a testament to the broad coalition that has formed to oppose the damming of the Xingu. It includes the Fórum Popular de Altamira, Prelazia do Xingu, Fundação Viver Produzir e Preservar (FVPP), Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI), Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Educação Pública do Pará – SINTEPP, Movimento de Mulheres Trabalhadoras de Altamira Campo e Cidade – MMTA-CC, Federação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura – (FETAGRI), STTR-Altamira, Grupo de Trabalho Amazônico Regional Altamira (GTA), Forum da Amazônia Oriental, Comissão Pastoral da Terra, Associação do Moradores do Médio Xingu, and many support groups including the Instituto Socioambiental – ISA, Floresta Protegida, Amigos da Terra Amazônia Brasileira, International Rivers, WWF, Environmental Defense, and the Rainforest Foundation.

Altamira is accessible via daily flights from Belém and Manaus. We recommend that those planning on attending the meeting make advance plans for travel and lodging. Glenn Switkes, International Rivers Latin American Program Director, is available to assist journalists interested in attending the gathering, he can be contacted at: +55.35.3332.6809,

International Rivers