Brazil: Amazon or energy? - The Belo Monte mega-dam in the Xingu River (RTL Z)

Uploaded by MrPatateter on 04.07.2011

We are in the middle of the Amazon, the lungs of the world.
The largest natural area where perhaps the entire world depends on.
At the moment is the Amazon in great danger.
Here too, at the Xingu river, because soon a huge dam will be built here.
A hydropower plant, that allows the economy of brazil growing further.
Result is that this river will be largely drained.
Forest will be lopped and more than 50,000 Indians have to move.
The dam is in the river Belo Monte.
We can generating an amount of energy of 11 million kilowatts ...
... or 11,000 megawatts.
The water goes through this turbines and flows into the river the Amazon.
The river is part of our culture. We are farmers.
Actually, we can't do anything else.
The river is our history and comes back in all our stories.
The river is our home.
The story of Belo Monte.
The controversial dam in the Amazon is often compared with the movie Avatar.
How nature and the inhabitants have to make a way for bulldozers ...
... development, and in this case a dam.
Since 1975 is the construction of the hydroelectric plant under discussion.
What is more important, the preservation of the Amazon ...
... or the construction of the hydroelectric plant, is the recurring question.
Brazil is the sixth largest economy in the world.
To continue growing the country, energy is needed.
Last month the Brazilian government gave the final approval to begin the construction.
It is going to be the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world.
It can generate 11,000 megawatts of energy ...
... and can provide 23 million families each year with energy.
Cost: 10 billion euros.
I can say that nowhere in our country something like Belo Monte exists.
It is a great project, given the location, given the logistics.
I don't know any other project in our country that is put together so well.
But to build the dam, an area is going to put under water as large as half the province of Utrecht.
Simultaneously, a part of this vast Xingu river is going to be dried up ...
... because the water is going to be pumped out there.
Markers are already shown where will be built.
This place is soon a massive wall.
It will be built from across the river to here.
This part of the river is then dried up ...
... and the water will be pumped to here.
This is a mega project.
It is definitely the biggest project ever undertaken in the world.
Now take this part of the distribution channel ...
... with all the soil and all the sludge that we have removed.
With the sludge, we have made dikes whereby lakes were formed.
Only just this part of the canal has a capacity ...
... comparable to three times the capacity of the Panama Canal.
We are now making a boat.
That are we doing now.
We fish with it, we hunt with it.
We go to the city with it.
It is a beautiful boat and we need him to go to the city.
If the dam will be built, then the river is going to be dried up, ...
... our history ends and then we can't live here anymore.
Then we can't bring anything to the city anymore.
Village leader Leon Sarara also expressed great concern.
This village, Volta Grande, disappears by the construction of the dam.
His tribe has to move and the Indians have been offered money by the Belo Monte project.
Houses are promised for them in the city.
But what are Indians, who live from the nature and live for centuries on this place, ...
... supposed to do with money? he wonders.
Our forest is everything to us. It gives us everything we need.
We can find here everything. Bananas, cassava, potatoes.
All we need, even our houses.
We don't need more to protect us.
Once the money is gone. We don't know how to deal with it.
You buy this, you buy that, and suddenly it is gone.
Altamira, for now still a sleepy town in the state of Pará.
Around 90,000 persons are living there.
Around the city, much is done to agriculture and cattle breeding.
But Altamira doesn't have a really big industry.
That is going to be changed by the dam now.
Many jobs will be created by this.
We can place here 20,000 employees.
We can use them in different places. Here, and here.
They can work on the dikes.
There is even a begin to the construction of a harbour in Belo Monte.
20,000 men is really needed for that.
The businesses of Altamira are pleased with the arrival of the Belo Monte project.
Restaurateur Carlos already adapts to the expected growth of the middle class.
He expanded his churrasqueira and already has 70 percent more customers.
There will be more work indeed. The area will benefit here.
My future looks much better.
This is my business. It will be a lot busier here.
I could start a hotel as well, a supermarket, a tobacconist's.
If I am lucky, I can achieve all that next to my restaurant.
Also many young people in Altamira look forward to the project.
They hope for more opportunities in the area ...
... that is still, in the immense Brazil, one of the most underlying areas.
Taxi driver João sees great opportunities for himself.
I am in the traffic every day and that will expand.
I will have to carry more people and probably also more cargo.
That is what I currently would like too.
The village (???), more than three hours driving from Altamira.
Environmentalist Antonia Melo provides information to farmers who have to move because of the dam.
We are against this project that is dominating everything.
It is amazing how our people and the whole world ...
... have seized this issue to fight for.
They make it a life goal, and it is.
If you destroy the rivers and the forest ...
... the whole earth will be in danger.
That morning Lidio Gonsaives went to the office of Antonia's organization, Xingu para Sempre, ...
... with a list he received of the builders of the dam.
They provide money for his planting and they want to negotiate about his house and land.
In short, with money they try to convince the farmers to leave voluntarily.
I have never studied. What do I have to do in the city?
I have no reason to move to the city. I stay here.
You can't do anything with the money they offer. It is just terrible.
A religious worship in Altamira with reference to the annual Catholic celebration Corpus Christi.
Bishop Dom Erwin is not only spiritual leader, ...
... but also environmentalist and advocate for the rights of the Indians.
Everything I say, gets a political charge.
You can't do anything about that.
In Brazil, your life could be at stake then, because since the eighties environmentalists are being killed.
Principals are often large landowners and timber producers.
The number of murders are recently increasing again.
In one month, five activists were killed.
In Brazil you can be killed, if you stand up for the nature.
And it remains to be seen how long this bishop this kind of processions can hold in public, ...
... because he is threatened with his life and has 24 hour per day security.
Surveillance cameras are installed around the parish and this bodyguard never deviates from Dom Erwin's side.
But the bishop keeps fighting.
It is the price I have to pay. I can't leave the people.
I can't only limit myself to the spiritual side of the church.
Those who are walk along in the procession, are also those who are expelled.
They are numbers for the government, they are people for me.
Everyone be careful, they shoot at us sharply.
These residents are removed by soldiers from land that they have occupied.
They came from the deeper Amazon to here, because the area where they live is intended for the dam.
The land where we live is ours. They have to find an area for us.
They can't just chase us. We have to live somewhere.
This may be one of the first evacuations, because soon the first constructions will be start.
We will ensure that jobs are created quickly.
I think that within a week or ten days it is going to get form.
Altamira is soon surrounded by a dead and decaying lake.
A tropical climate prevails here.
And a dead and polluted lake ...
... becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes, pests and endemic diseases.
I am 73 years.
I've never been to a hospital for treatment.
I get everything from the nature to make me feel healthy.
We will keep fighting to the death.
We will show the government who is owning this land.
This effects the whole world.
This is not only about our country but about the entire planet.
Brazil as an economic superpower can't without energy ...
... and clean energy generated by hydropower, is worth a lot.
The nature must take a step back, seems the message of the Belo Monte project.
And whether the dam thereby is truly a good deal, the future would tell.
Nina Jurna for RTL Z from the state of Pará, Brazil.