Belo Monte Operating License can not be leased without guarantee of rights

Mission report which certified human rights violations resulting of the Belo Monte construction has been published by the National Council of Human Rights. Text by: Plataforma de Direitos Humanos Dhesca […]

Mission report which certified human rights violations resulting of the Belo Monte construction has been published by the National Council of Human Rights.

Text by: Plataforma de Direitos Humanos Dhesca Brasil

Photo: Joka Madruga

The National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) have unanimously agreed – on August 20th – upon the recommendation that the public organs, specially the Brazilian Institute for Enviroment and Natural Renewable Resources (IBAMA), should require “effective and full compliance with all conditions of the Basic Environmental Plan (PBA), as a requirement for the issuance of the Operating License of Belo Monte dam”. The decision of the college was taken on the mission report held in June, which is being now released.

Norte Energia SA, concessionaire of Belo Monte dam, requested the license on February 11th this year. The request is pending within IBAMA. The company expects that the license is granted this September.

According to Leandro Scalabrin, who represents MAB in the Workgroup People Affected by Dams of the National Council of Human Rights, the presentation of the denounce of human rights violations which have resulted in this mission to Belo Monte is an initiative of the Human Rights Platform – Dhesca Brasil, the social movements of the region, the several public organs as the Federal Public Ministry, the Union Public Defender, Public Defender of the State and Federal University of Pará, with the objective to reduce impacts and prevent more violations of rights within the license of the dam.

“If the effective and full compliance with all the conditions of the Environmental Basic Plan is not treated as a requirement for the issuance of the Operating License, we will see more rights violations in the region, similar to what happened in other dams, such as Santo Antônio and Jirau. One of the main legal mechanisms that provides these violations is to give new deadline for the company to do what they should have done before the end of the dam construction, which is to transform these duties into new conditions, postponing them,” says Leandro.

Darci Frigo, counselor and coordinator of the Human Rights Platform – Dhesca Brazil, highlights the results of the visit, “the mission of the National Human Rights Commission heard a number of complaints which is registered in its report and found that indeed there are human rights violations suffered by people directly and indirectly affected by the actions Norte Energia within the Belo Monte power-dam construction. Without compensation for the violated rights there is no way to grant the Operation License of the dam”.

The Social-environmental institute (ISA) published, on June 29, the “Dossier Belo Monte – There are no conditions for the Operating License”, which states, among other things, that there are insufficient conditions for IBAMA to authorize the start of the filling of the reservoir of the hydroelectric plant of Belo Monte and the definitive shift of the Xingu River so that part of the plant can begin to operate.

Human Rights violations of people affected by dams

Among the problems verified by the National Council of Human Rights is the policy adopted by Norte Energia regarding the treatment with the urban people from Altamira (PA) affected by the dam, which according to MAB, are more than 10 thousand families. In the last period ran out the option for resettlement and families are under pressure to opt for derisory compensation. “I’ve lived here over four years and they are now asking me to prove it. These days they came and offered a trifle of R$ 20,000 (around 5185 dollars), you can’t buy any house or shelter with that, so I did not accept it.”said Leila Valderez, a resident of the neighborhood Boa Esperança. She also spoke about the sufferings of the last families in the flooded area: “We go through a darn suffering, because our neighbors have already left, the energy posts are being taken away, we are without power and practically without water because there’s no way to pull water from the wells. And some are already talking about that they (the company/police) will get us out of here by means of repossession, without the right to anything, our stuff will thrown all away and practically we will stay in the streets.”

Among the families that are not recognized by Norte Energia are circa of 300 families from the neighborhood Independente II in Altamira, lake area, which until this moment there is no plan for the withdraw of the families. “An engineer came here to say that the water will rise two meters up and that we have to leave until September 15th but did not say to which place to leave,” said resident Luciana Vieira dos Santos.

The increase of the living costs due to the dam construction has also been a problem for the people affected by dams, as reported Keilane Souza. She is member of one of the 500 families who occupied an house under construction by the project Minha Casa Minha Vida last June. “It’s not easy to live here. If I had other condition I would be living in a better place, everything is difficult, water, energy, transport. There are families with two, three children, who have nowhere else to live, they had a home but that was taken away. Today you have to pay R$ 600 to R$ 800 for the rent or you have no home. I will live where, under the bridge?” Says Keilane. Similar problem is experienced by 2000 homeless families at the municipality of Vitória do Xigu, who are encamped at an occupation.

Those affected have also reported threats to human rights defenders and the refusal of the police to register police report against security companies and the police who commit authority abuse. In addition, as highlighted by the counselor Maria Dirlene Trinity, the National Feminist Health Network, MAB members and other social movements are being criminalized through legal action to prevent the social organization of those affected.

Belo Monte’s responsibilities

The Getulio Vargas Foundation contracted with resources of the enterprise through the Xingu Regional Sustainable Development Plan, presented in its annual report released on August 4, several “challenges” that still need to be faced by Belo Monte: 1) Sewage system in Altamira ; 2) compulsory displacement in rural areas; 3) indigenous territorial protection; 4) Engagement in education; 5) Access to health; 6) Attention to indigenous health; 7) Control of deforestation; 8) local institutional capacity; 9) Access to information, transparency and social control.

For the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) the implementation of the actions of the Basic Environmental Plan is fundamental and the numerous unanticipated impacts requires new mitigating actions that can make the impact of Belo Monte dam bearable to indigenous peoples. “It’s necessary to say to the federal government that if the government’s choice is to use the Xingu River to generate power, this has to be done within the law. Once the choice is made, the State or the company can’t put themselves above the law. There is no possibility of an operating license for Belo Monte without an readjustment process,” concluded Thais Santi, Attorney of the Republic in Altamira.

Next steps

The report approved by the National Council of Human Rights will be submitted with the recommendations to each responsible institution. Among these institutions are: IBAMA (responsible for granting the operating license), the federal, state and municipal governments, the Court of Justice, the Union Public Defender, Federal Court, as well as Norte Energia itself, so that besides the science of the report a process of recognition and reparation of the violated human rights can be started.


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