Brazilian Tribes Occupy Power Plant
BRASILIA - Brazilian native Indians on Sunday took 100 workers hostage at the construction site of a hydroelectric plant in the southern Amazon region, local media reported.
As many as 400 Indians from several different tribes occupied a power plant they say was built on an ancient burial site.
"They didn't take into account the situation of the Indians. The company used dynamite to blow up part of an archeological site," Antonio Carlos Ferreira de Aquino, a local administrator with the government's agency of indigenous affairs, Funai, told Folha.com.
Armed with bows and arrows, the Indians occupied the site at dawn on Sunday and confined the construction company's employees to their barracks.
There were no reports of injuries.
The Indians are demanding that government officials help negotiate a settlement with the construction company.
"We want to be compensated for the construction of the plant. The site is 30 kilometers (19 miles) from our reserve and has caused great cultural and social impact in our community, not to mention environmental damage," Aldeci Arara, a tribal leader, told the G1 news portal.
The Dardanelos dam on the Aripuana river, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the Mato Grosso state capital Cuiaba, was due to come online in January 2011, the media reports said.
The construction company told G1.com that it has been in touch with Funai to define a community development program for the local native Indians.
The company was not immediately available for comment.
It is one of nearly a dozen hydroelectric power plants the administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been promoting in the Amazon region.
Earlier this year the government took bids for the construction of the $17 billion Belo Monte dam on the Xingu river. The project triggered an international outcry over potential environmental damage and impact on native Indian tribes.
(Reporting by Raymond Colitt; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)