Indigenous and Riverbank Communities Call on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Suspend the Massive Belo Monte Dam

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As the government prepares to issue the dam’s construction license, communities urge the Commission to denounce illegalities in licensing and violations of human rights

Tuira and the women's movement leader

Glenn Switkes

Affected communities have formally issued a request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the Organization of American States, to investigate illegalities in licensing and alleged human rights violations in the planning and implementation of the Belo Monte Dam Complex. Such illegalities and violations have been well documented, ranging from the assimetry of information in technical assessments, the politicization of the licensing process, the failure to obtain Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, to involuntary displacement, and incomplete studies on the social and environmental impacts of the project.

The IACHR request comes at a crucial juncture for affected communities of the Xingu, as authorities could approve the start of construction at any moment. Despite having fulfilled 0 of the 40 mitigatory conditions set forth by IBAMA in February 2010, construction consortium Norte Energia, S.A. has followed a corrupt precedent by pressuring environmental agency IBAMA to grant a "partial" installation license, a move which federal Brazilian legislation deems illegal. In the meantime, Brazil's Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento (BNDES) has stated its aim to disburse project finance loans to Norte Energia, S.A. by the end of 2010, despite the bank's inability to prove that it has applied its own social and environmental safeguards in its financial assessment of the Belo Monte Dam Complex.

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