People affected demand definitive cancellation of the Tapajós dam

Yesterday afternoon (May 25) the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) held a public audience to discuss the possible impacts of the hydro-power plant of São Luís do Tapajós. The audience took place at the Federal Institute of Pará (IFPA) campus at the municipality of Itaituba.

Besides the Federal Public Ministry, representatives of Ibama and Funai, researchers, the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) and leaders of the affected communities were present at the audience.

 

According to Tatiana Mendonça, technician at Funai, “this project is illegal to Funai”. Since, according to the constitution, it's illegal to dislocate indigenous population and to build hydro-power in indigenous land without specific regulations and without authorization from the legislature.

Hugo Americo, Ibama's superintendent, said that the dam's license is suspended at the moment. "There is no next step of Ibama [the release of the project license] without a position of Funai.”

The prosecutor Camões Boaventura questioned at the beginning of the hearing: "If it's unconstitutional, why there was a suspension and not the cancellation of the project?"

 

Iury Paulino, MAB, spoke about the rights violations caused by Belo Monte, closest example in relation to the Tapajos projects. "If the Brazilian government is unable to solve the problems caused in Altamira and Tucuruí, then the Brazilian State can not afford to propose a dam project in the territory of any Brazilian citizen."

Leticia Arthuzo, from the Getulio Vargas Foundation, also presented entity's study showing that the conditions of Belo Monte were not satisfactorily met. Representative of IBAMA recognized that "Ibama made many mistakes in Belo Monte". In addition, the researcher Liz Carmen Pereira, from the IFPA, and the doctor Erik Jennings spoke about the mercury contamination in the Tapajós River, existing because of mining activity and which will worsen if dams are built. The people are contaminated by eating fish, which is their common food in the region. According to Liz, "the mercurial issue is not adequately addressed within the EIA [environmental impact study of the dam] and it's concerning because there is no specific population to be affected, anyone can be affected, even outside the country consuming this fish".

 

Women build alliance

Indigenous and riverine women were present in the speeches against the dam. "We take care of our homes, our children, our plantations, of our husbands and also of our territory,” said Maria Leusa Munduruku, next to two indigenous women leaderships. After that she called all women, indigenous and not indigenous, to hold hands and symbolize the alliance of all in the struggle.

Gelsiane Nascimento and Heidy Lima, who live at Pimental and are MAB activists, denounced that there are already impacts in the community during the phase of research of the hydro-power plant and the women are the ones who suffer most. The communication company “O Diálogo Tapajós” says that it comes to dialogue and bring information, but actually, it comes to disorganize the community,” affirmed Heidy. “We women, we do not have voice when these companies come to our community, but today we have the voice to say that we will not let this dam come,” said Gelsiane.

The women organized in MAB also delivered to the attorney the “Letter of women of Tapajós”, which is been written by several organizations during the Seminar “Women defending rights” on March 8, held by MAB in partnership with Christian Aid and support of the European Union.