July 30th, 2010
Headlines around the world this week again brought attention to the impacts of dams in the Amazon on Indigenous peoples.
This time the culprit is not a monstrous project but a smaller dam being built on the Aripuanã river in the state of Mato Grosso. The issue highlights the heightened tensions between indigenous people in the Amazon and those who seek to exploit the area’s natural resources.
Last week, energy company Aguas da Pedra, builders of Dardanelos dam (261 MW) in the state of Mato Grosso, dynamited a cemetery belonging to the Arara Indigenous tribe. The location of the cemetery had not been included in the dam’s environmental impact assessment.
“We have been waiting since 2005. We’re tired. This was a big cemetery, with all our ancestors, many generations of our tribe, which is right in the construction site. It is a sacred place for us” said tribal leader Aldeci Arara.
In response, 11 tribes led by the Arara, Cinta-Larga, and Rikbaktsa invaded the construction site. Dressed and armed for war, they held close to 100 Aguas da Pedra employees hostage, demanding that construction be halted and $
“Important aspects in the lives of these indigenous people were not considered by the company. The construction is not located inside of the indigenous reserve, but is right on top of an indigenous cemetery. The company dynamited something of inestimable value for them,” said Antônio Carlos Ferreira Aquino, the regional Funai coordinator.