Signing away the Amazon

In a desperate attempt to preserve a vast area of the Amazon and defend the lives of thousands of people, the world is mobilised against the Belo Monte project.

A hydroelectric power plant complex in the middle of the Amazon Forest is worrying not only Brazilians but the international community. Belo Monte, a project by the company Eletronorte, has become somewhat of a polemic issue both inside and outside of the Brazilian government.

Last week, Abelardo Bayma Azevedo, the president of IBAMA (The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), the institution responsible for the control and regulation of environmental policies in the country, resigned. And he is not the first one to leave the position. In April 2010, his predecessor, Roberto Messias Franco, gave his notice alleging “too much pressure in approving environmental licenses”. A clear reference to Belo Monte.

In order to build the plant, an area bigger than the Panama channel (64,000 hectares) would have to be flooded in the heart of the Amazon Forest, changing the course of rivers, like the Rio Xingu, and affecting the lives of 40,000 people, including native communities.

In an attempt to try to stop the construction of the complex, an online petition is being spread through social networks around the world. The group behind the campaign, the Avaaz, hopes to get 300,000 signatures to be handed to president Dilma Rousseff before the end of January, as they fear that despite not having the licenses, the works might already commence in February.

If you’d like to support the cause and sign the petition, then simply visit the link below:

secure.avaaz.org

By Zaira Brilhante

One Comment

  1. Louis

    While we can sympathise with emotive aspect of the decision here are some facts:

    “This dam will provide 11GW of hydroelectric power – that is, the power that would be produced by a coal-fired power station generating eighty million tons of CO2 a year – at a price of 2% of the amount of Amazon that would be illegally logged this year if the action against illegal logging works as well as possible.”

    It would seem that is a slightly emotional and myopic understanding of the situation. In the end this dam will be better than the environment than almost every other option. Brasil needs power and hydro is the best way to provide this, the other option is burning coal or oil or building more nuclear power stations.

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