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Brazil dam changes the Amazon and the world

And that is happening against the backdrop of many towns being flooded to build the dam. About 6,000 families are readying to move out now as their houses will soon be underwater.

“I do not want to go somewhere else,” said Helinalda de Lira Soares with her three children close by. She lives in a neighborhood of humble, rustic wooden housing on stilts at the water's edge, near a drain pipe clogged with garbage. But she says she is proud of her home, and does not want to leave.

Neither she nor her neighbors have any idea where they will go.

“Construction on Belo Monte is going really quickly ... but the public housing they promised in the city and other towns is moving really slowly,” she said.

The government and power company building the dam have pledged massive investment in housing and local infrastructure as well as aid for indigenous communities. So far, little of what was promised has panned out.

And in the crosshairs of the massive Belo Monte project: the relatively tiny local indigenous community of 2,000 people who traditionally fished the Xingu to survive.

Once built, the dam will have a capacity of 11,233 MW — generating about 11 percent of the country's power.

That will put it behind only China's Three Gorges Dam and the Itaipu dam shared by Brazil and Paraguay. The new dam will flood 502 square kilometers — almost doubling the area the river takes up now.

Local residents look likely to be hard hit by the loss of water volume in the river on which they depend for their livelihoods, especially in an area called Volta Grande.

“We live on fishing, and we are going to see the river basically dry up, we feel very threatened,” said Marino Felix Juruna, the son of the local indigenous leader in Paquicamba, home to about 60 ethnic Juruna people. They live about three hours from Altamira by speedboat.

Their humble village of wooden homes and a primary school boasts some incongruous satellite antennas and upscale speedboats.

“Since the indigenous people were the only ones threatening the project, they have been co-opted with speedboats and giveaways,” said Jose Cleanton, a Catholic missionary working with indigenous communities, who warned that their survival as a community was at stake.

“There are alcohol problems, and the problems of everyone leaving the traditional village,” said Cleanton. The Juruna people have asked for a fish-raising facility and for a bigger school.

For now they are waiting, as the world around them rumbles fast toward change.

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March 28, 2013    staceyberland@
Why are we putting out 13 BILLION dollars to help a country that is one of the wealthiest in the world? We don't have jobs, food, homes, insurance.......And WHY? The USA continually gives TRILLIONS of dollars away to other countries.........how many people could eat and get medical care with 13 BILLION? Or TRILLIONS.......I think we need to clean out Congress entirely, certainly correct compensation provisions and start over. Those in Congress should be made up of common citizens that have no money invested in anything.....they would be more non-biased and are truly representative of our needs as individuals and a country..
April 2, 2013    mallorylamanna@
It seems like some troll has had a change of name.
April 2, 2013    major_bob1@
Who would post such an idiotic comment? The cost of the project in Brazil was described in terms of US $ not that the US was paying for it. I suppose the author of the article could have converted the cost to NT$ and this moron would have thought Taiwan was paying for a dam in the Amazon.
The US total foreign aid is approx $50 Billion annually. Too much? Probably yes, considering we have to borrow it. But not TRILLION$ and the poster's assertion of such shows me he is either ignorant of the facts or simply chooses to ignore them for the sake of hyperbole (stacey, you might need to look up that word).
By the way, "common citizens" do have money invested. Most all of us have savings, IRAs, pensions or 401k investments. I really wouldn't want someone that is unable to care for themselves making decisions for the country.
April 4, 2013    mallorylamanna@
Oh yes. That someone has indeed changed his name. What a gutless and idiotic move. Then again, what can we expect of an internet troll? Pathetic.
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This Feb. 19, 2005 file picture shows a deforested area along the border of the Xingu River, 140 km from Anapu city in the Amazon rain forest, northern Brazil.

(AFP)

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