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The dilemma of Belo Monte

Walking arround the city of Altamira and in region in recent months is like going through a huge construction site. The only difference is that in Altamira families reside within. As such the ritme of the construction is imposed on the habitants, highlighting the contradictions that the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) had warned that would happen even before the construction begins.

MAB’s position has always been against the construction of Belo Monte. It is a social and environmental disaster and not justified by its ability to generate energy. In February 2010, when the motion was received by Lula, MAB asked publicly, “not to move forward with the construction of the hydroelectric plant of Belo Monte and this matter as one of the points of discussion within the Brazilian population.” By April 2011, when 500 women affected by dams were received by President Dilma, MAB said again: “We reaffirm our position against the construction of Belo Monte and ask for the immediate suspension”.

Even with the protest actions of those affected, of various social and environmental movements, of artists, students, community, nationaly and internationaly, Belo Monte is being built in the heart of the Amazon justified by old speeches of the military dictatorship, like bringing integration and development to a forgotten region. In fact, the development for the population was forgotten, but the potential energy, mining and agribusiness not! They are foreign projects, to meet foreign demands.

At a time when the construction works are gaining strength, the state has no clear proposals about how to treat the affected populations. Only in Altamira the estimated number is as high as 40,000 and so far there is nothing that signals the development for the local people. “They talk of urban settlements and state that families have to choose between a house or a compensation. But how to choose when there is even no area purchased for the construction of these new homes? More than 5,000 homes to be built and nobody knows where” complains a regional MAB militant.