In 1989 the World Bank pulled out of a plan to build a series of huge hydroelectric dams on the Xingu River in the centre of Brazil. The dams were judged a potential social and environmental catastrophe, highlighted by the largest combined demonstration by the indigenous tribal people of the area ever staged.
In 2008, the dams were back on the agenda, and the Indians came together again to fight the new proposal.
The Belo Monte dam would be the third largest in the world. As much earth moving would be required to build it as was needed to build the Panama Canal.
Yet the Brazilian government has been trying to railroad the scheme through on a very tight timescale, riding roughshod over the tatters of Brazilian environmental legislation and ignoring the requirements of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Brazil had voted to endorse less than a year before.
A development of this size, with the potential to reverse much of the progress Brazil has made in the last few years in reducing the rate of deforestation, should be fully discussed, with all its ramifications fully explored in order to reach a balanced and reasoned decision about its environmental, social and financial viability before deciding if it should be built or if it should be abandoned forever.
This video includes footage from the demonstration and attempts to highlight the problems the scheme will bring to this so-far well preserved area of the Amazon.
This is the same battle which is being supported by Avatar director James Cameron and actress Sigourney Weaver.
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