Belo Monte: Indigenous groups reoccupy dam in Brazil's Amazon rainforest

A deforested area along the border of the Xingu River, in the region where the Belo Monte dam is due to be built, Feb. 19, 2005.

SÃO PAULO, Brazil – More than 150 indigenous people, fishermen and other activists opposed to Brazil's Belo Monte dam being built in the Amazon rainforest have reoccupied one of its construction sites.

The Norte Energia consortium that is building the dam on the Xingu River said the protesters occupied the site Tuesday night, according to the Associated Press. It also said that, for security reasons, it stopped work at the site and transferred nearly 1000 men to work elsewhere. Protesters included fishermen that had teamed up with members of the indigenous Xipaia, Kuruaia, Parakana, Arara, Juruna and Assurini peoples.

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The AP also reported that the activist group leading the occupation, known as Xingu Vivo (Xingu Alive), said it occupied the work site to protest "plans to definitively dam the Xingu River," which would put the livelihoods of some 40,000 residents in jeopardy.

"This singular alliance of Indians and fishermen is aimed at blowing the whistle on the construction company which has not kept promises made in June, during the Rio sustainable development summit," Maira Irigaray, spokeswoman for Xingu Vivo, told Agence France-Presse.

"They occupied the Pimental construction area where the Xingu River already has been dried up," she said, noting that the demonstrators would stay "until their demands have been met."

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

Belo Monte is expected to flood an area of 500 square kilometers (200 square miles) along the Xingu River, which would, according to the government, displace 16,000 people, reported AFP. NGOs put that number closer to 40,000. Protesters have said they want their lands demarcated and non-indigenous people removed from them, as well as a better healthcare and access to drinking water.