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Three-Day Tour of Brazilian Amazon Leaves Avatar’s Director Ready for Activism

James CameronAvatar director James Cameron will hold a press conference on Wednesday, March 31 at 10 am at Hotel Tropical, in Manaus, capital of the Brazilian northern state of Amazonas, to report back on his three-day visit experience to the Big Bend region of the Xingu River, site of the proposed Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam project.

“I was told by my friends at Amazon Watch that the Belo Monte Dam threatens to destroy large swaths of territory in the heart of the Amazon rainforest,” stated Mr. Cameron. “I wanted to visit this area and learn more about the project.”

From March 28-30, Mr. Cameron traveled along a stretch of the Xingu River’s Big Bend (Volta Grande) region in Brazil’s Pará state to visit the forests and the communities that will be destroyed by the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam project.

If built, the dam would be third largest in the world and cost an estimated US$ 12.3 to US$ 17.5 billion. The project would divert 80% of the flow of the Xingu River along a 100 km length of the River, drying the lifeline of tens of thousands who depend on the River for their survival.

To build Belo Monte, more earth would have to be dug than was moved to build the Panama Canal. The Brazilian Government approved Belo Monte’s environmental license on February 1, despite widespread public opposition and serious questions on the dam’s economic, social, and environmental viability. Consortiums are set to bid on the project on April 20th.

Last week during his address at the International Forum on Sustainability in Manaus, Mr. Cameron expressed his concern about the project saying: “For people living along the river, as they have for millennia, the dam will end their way of life. I implore the Brazilian government, and President Lula, to reconsider this project.”

During his visit to the Xingu River, Mr. Cameron was received in the Arara indigenous village and participated in a gathering of over 100 indigenous leaders from dozens of indigenous communities along the Xingu River including Arara, Juruna, Xipaia, and Xikrin Kayapo.

He also met leaders from Brazilian civil society including Xingu Bishop Dom Erwin Kreutler and members of Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre in the town of Altamira, a third of which will be flooded by the dam.

Belo Monte would also be one of the most inefficient dams in the history of Brazil, generating only 10-30% of its 11,000 Megawatts (MW) installed capacity during the dry season, and on an annual basis average only 4,462 MW or 39% of its installed capacity.

“There are always other solutions, when good leaders put their will to a problem,” Mr. Cameron said during his address during the Manaus Forum. “A WWF Brazil study showed if Brazil were to invest a fraction of the cost of the dam in energy efficiency it could generate 14 times the energy of the Belo Monte Dam and have electricity savings of up to US$ 19 billion.”

Mr. Cameron’s visit was facilitated by the international organization Amazon Watch and Brazilian organizations the Xingu Alive Forever Movement (Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre) and the Socio-environmental Institute (Instituto Socioambiental).

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  • Show Comments (7)

  • DU 48

    Surprise surprise-Odebrecht and Camargo Correa throw in the towel…’Usina vagalume’
    Dilma’ll have to go to the Banco do Brasil and quickly, by the looks of things.
    According to reports, Brazil could find itself being hauled before an international tribunal on charges of disrespect regarding indigenous peoples under the International Labor Organisation-a treaty signed by Brasil.

    http://noticias.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2010/04/07/ativista-diz-que-brasil-sera-levado-a-cortes-internacionais-por-causa-de-belo-monte.jhtm

  • DU 48

    Belo Monte-how to waste money and resources
    A study by Unicamp and WWF states that Brazil doesn’t need to increase its energy supply- W.Novaes,estadao,noticias,6 De Abril.
    30% gain in energy efficiency improvement programs, another 10% in transmission line losses and 10% in repowering solutions.
    SOS Brazil

  • v558

    Lloyd Cata, good words hard to think anyone could say better than the words you put together about this issue.

    If this situation of being actively against the construction of an electicity power plant like Belo Monte(which will destroy miles of soil) was in the US of A, Cameron would be labeled as anti-patriotic, anti-American, American-hater. Oops, Cameron’s movie Avatar was already labeled as anti-capitalist anti-American! What a real hurt locker is the world scenerio.

  • João da Silva

    DU 48
    [quote]So that’s a relief,there’s no need to ‘inform’ anybody else,is there,J Da S? [/quote]

    No need at all, DU 48. But…But…, the new minister of energy who is also a “querido companheiro”, but..but.. from your state might review the whole thing. He must know about the problems caused by the “dams”, “floods”, “hydro energy”, etc;;-)

    But..But.., who wants to listen to an engineer or a fighter pilot?;-)

  • DU 48

    Damnation – Dams on April Fools Day- whatever the cost, Mr Cameron
    Brazil’s president gave his verdict on the Belo Monte dam saga at yesterday’s new ministerial inauguration ceremony:

    http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/folha/brasil/ult96u714817.shtml

    So that’s a relief,there’s no need to ‘inform’ anybody else,is there,J Da S?

    As reported in the Huffington Post the Chinese have censored Avatar :the Three Gorges Dam project fallout is potential embarrassment, considering the effect of thousands of displaced Chinese.
    No worries in ‘democratic’ Brasil then…

    Amazon programme director-internationalrivers.org Glenn Switkes died in Sao Paulo, in December.He has done much to inform about the dire consequences of HEP construction.

    For those who think only foreign ngo’s are active I suggest the following link – to see that there are Brazilians involved in the information process concerning the future of the Amazon.

    http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/latin-america/glenn-ross-switkes-1951-2009#comment-156

    Which politician in Brasilia has any alternative energy policies….

  • João da Silva

    [quote]If Mr. Cameron can bring attention to the truth of this disastrous policy he may highlight that Brazil is not the ‘paradise’ that so many tourists are led to believe.[/quote]

    Did Mr.Cameron meet the President of our Senate and the future President of the Republic who are experts on “Mines and Energy” to bring this issue to their attention?

  • Lloyd Cata

    Bolsa Capitalismo
    [b]generating only 10-30% of its 11,000 Megawatts (MW) installed capacity during the dry season[/b]

    This dam has all the common sense of a 20 year weather prediction. The ecological and social costs are both immediate and long-term. This is how “self-sustaining” societies are being destroyed to advantage corporate greed. Removing that water and habitat from the Indigenous community is “state-sponsored terrorism” and genocide, by definition.

    It is really a type of madness that has infected a society that thinks it can do better for people who have spent millennia living in peace and harmony with their environment. There is no Bolsa that can replace the cultural destruction and self-sufficiency of these people, even under the best intention to ‘relocate’ these populations…but we know that they will soon just be homeless to join the increasing numbers that cannot be sustained under present poverty reduction programs.

    This is why “figures lie and liars figure”. If Mr. Cameron can bring attention to the truth of this disastrous policy he may highlight that Brazil is not the ‘paradise’ that so many tourists are led to believe. Make no mistake, these images will be aired right alongside your Olympic extravaganza. This is not the way; that you should mimic the atrocities of Western capital formation by destroying the inheritance and livelihoods of those unable to defend themselves. [b][i]It is an admission of defeat in the challenge of mankind to do better in the 21st century than was done in the 18th century![/i][/b]

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