More than 400 activists on Thursday occupied the site of Brazil’s $11 billion Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, demanding that construction be halted on the controversial project in the heart of the Amazon.
“Everything was peaceful — there were no guards or workers,” a spokesman for the Indigenous Missionary Council, a group linked to the Catholic Church, told AFP.
The indigenous people and environmentalists at the site of what would be the third biggest dam in the world — after China’s Three Gorges dam and the Itaipu dam on the border of Brazil and Paraguay — say they will stay indefinitely.
They are demanding a definitive halt to work on the project in western Para state, or at least a suspension of construction until local residents can be consulted, the spokesman said.
Construction on the Belo Monte dam — which would produce more than 11,000 megawatts, or about 11 percent of Brazil’s current installed capacity — has been the subject of legal wrangling for decades.
A federal court ordered a halt to construction last month, which opponents had hailed as a “partial victory” pending a government appeal.
Environmentalists and Amazon Indian tribes say the dam will cause massive destruction of Brazilian fauna and flora in the area.