Hundreds of people from the Xingu and Tapajós river basins began an indefinite protest of the main construction site of the controversial Belo Monte Dam on Thursday, May 2. Check out the pictures below for a glimpse of what's happening on the ground.
The protestors stated their demands in a letter, translated below from the original Portuguese:
We are the people who live in the rivers where you want to build dams. We are the Munduruku, Juruna, Kayapó, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakanã, Arara, fishermen and peoples who live in riverine communities. We are Amazonian peoples and we want the forest to stand. We are Brazilians. The river and the forest are our supermarket. Our ancestors are older than Jesus Christ.
You are pointing guns at our heads. You raid our territories with war trucks and soldiers. You have made the fish disappear and you are robbing the bones of our ancestors who are buried on our lands.
You do this because you are afraid to listen to us. You are afraid to hear that we don’t want dams on our rivers, and afraid to understand why we don’t want them.
You invent stories that we are violent and that we want war. Who are the ones killing our relatives? How many white people have died in comparison to how many Indigenous people have died? You are the ones killing us, quickly or slowly. We're dying and with each dam that is built, more of us will die. When we try to talk with you, you bring tanks, helicopters, soldiers, machine guns and stun weapons.
What we want is simple: You need to uphold the law and promote enacting legislation on free, prior and Informed consent for indigenous peoples. Until that happens you need to stop all construction, studies, and police operations in the Xingu, Tapajós and Teles Pires rivers. And then you need to consult us.
We want dialogue, but you are not letting us speak. This is why we are occupying your dam-building site. You need to stop everything and simply listen to us.