The Munduruku Peoples of the Brazilian Amazon are celebrating a victory in their fight to protect their lands from planned hydroelectric plants.
The National Foundation for the Indian (FUNAI) has issued a historic ruling that will demarcate and protect a 700-square-mile territory of the Munduruku Peoples along the Tapajós River, in the Brazilian Amazon. The ruling is the latest decision in the Munduruku’s fight to protect their ancestral lands from flooding as part of planned hydroelectric dams. The demarcation and protection of the lands will now prevent the Munduruku’s land from being flooded. The final demarcation must be approved by presidential decree after 90 days before becoming law.
FUNAI, the Brazilian acronym for Fundação Nacional do Índio, announced the decision to demarcate the Munduruku’s territory on the Day of Indigenous Peoples, April 19, 2016.
Acting in its official capacity as the government body responsible for establishing and carrying out policies relating to Indigenous Peoples, the institution published documents identifying and recognizing the Munduruku’s ancestral rights to Sawré Maybu, a territory of 178 thousand hectares located between Itaituba and Trairão, in the state of Pará.
FUNAI’s decision ends the argument between the energy companies and the indigenous communities over whether or not the Munduruku have ancestral ties to the land. The planned São Luiz do Tapajós dam would have not only flooded the Munduruku’s ancestral lands, but a total flood area of 729 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest.
“Strong collaborations among communities from the Xingú and Tapajós regions played a crucial role in achieving the land demarcation. Community leaders from the two regions recently met to celebrate a commitment of cooperation and mutual support,” Intercontinental Cry writes. The Xingú communities are veterans of this fight, as they have fought for decades to prevent the Belo Monte dam from being completed.
In January 2016, Brazilian federal court judge Maria Carolina Valente do Carmo suspended the operating license for the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. The suspension was supposed to remain in place until the dam’s owner, Norte Energia SA, and the Brazilian government complete agreements made with indigenous groups. However, shortly after the suspension, another federal court reinstated the license. The Belo Monte dam was inaugurated on May 5.
The gigantic Belo Monte hydroelectric dam will be the third largest on earth. Indigenous communities have long said the project threatens their way of life by interfering with their water supply. They also say it affects fishing and hunting.
Although the Belo Monte decision was overturned, the indigenous communities continue to organize and oppose dangerous projects that threaten the environment and native ways of life. Together the Munduruku and other indigenous communities of the Xingú and Tapajós regions are standing up to colonization, oppression, and corporate-state tyranny. Lovers of Liberty and Freedom Fighters should stand in solidarity with the Munduruku and all native and indigenous warriors who continue the fight against oppression.
Derrick is available for interviews.
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