Indigenous groups occupy Amazon dam

Wed, Oct 10, 2012, 01:00

Members of six indigenous groups have joined fisherman to stop construction of the world's third largest dam, the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in Brazil's Amazon.

The protesters occupied a temporary dam, alleging that Norte Energia SA, the company that will operate the dam, hasn't complied with agreements signed with the groups in July and has not engaged the fishermen in dialogue, said Verena Glass, a spokesman for Altamira, Brazil-based organization Xingu Vivo Para Sempre, or Xingu Alive Forever.

Some 150 people opposed to the dam and its ecological impact and displacement of local villages paralyzed the construction during the night, forcing workers to leave their posts, according to the leaders of the protest.

The protesters occupied one of three work sites on the project, forcing Consorcio Constructora Belo Monte to tell almost 2,500 workers to stop work on the dam, said Fernando Santana, spokesman for the consortium.

"There's no date for when we will restart works, it depends on them leaving," Mr Santana said by telephone from Rio de Janeiro. "While there are people there, we can't restart work. As of yet, the consortium hasn't received any type of demand."

The dam would be located across the Xingu River, 2,300 kilometers (1,429 miles) north of Sao Paulo. The construction consortium is led by Grupo Andrade Gutierrez SA, and includes Camargo Correa SA, Queiroz Galvao SA, Grupo OAS, Odebrecht SA, and five smaller partners.

Norte Energia said in a statement yesterday that it had not received any demands from the protesters nor justification for the "invasion."

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