SALSA Statements on the Belo Monte Dam Project
The membership of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA), a professional association of scholars specializing in Lowland South America, wishes to express its concern regarding the proposed Belo Monte hydroelectric project in the Amazonian state of Para. Brazil has earned the respect of the international community for its Amazon Rainforest, the largest remaining rainforest in the world, and we are concerned that the construction of this project will negatively impact on the advances already made. We would hope that the Brazilian government would avoid such embarrassment. Recent steps by Brazil to reduce deforestation by the year 2020 have shown that Brazil is a leader among nations in the conservation and preservations of its forests. For this reason we write regarding what we consider to be a major error in national-level planning: the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Project.
We believe that the project would have disastrous social, cultural, ecological, economic, and political effects on indigenous and other people living along the Xingu River. It would destroy a large segment of tropical rainforest in one of the most important river basins in the world. The increased settlement and deforestation would open the southeastern Amazon to increased degradation from expanding agriculture and ranching, and thereby endanger all of Amazonia. The devastation wreaked by the project is in no way compensated by the returns of the project, which would clearly be insufficient to accomplish the promised rewards. Taking into consideration the relatively short life-expectancy of dams in the Amazon because of silting and acidic erosion of turbine blades, the Belo Monte dam seems likely to prove to be an economic white elephant. In short, SALSA strongly advises the immediate stoppage of all plans toward this project.
2010 Statement supporting the position of ABA (Asociação Brasileira de Antropologia) [Portuguese, English, Spanish]
Photography: Pedro Ribeiro, Global Voices
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