Brazilian Indians took over a hydroelectric plant in late July to demand compensation for a dam being built on their ancient burial site and to warn against building any more dams in the Amazon.
Around 100 dam construction workers were held hostage by the indigenous protestors on Sunday 25th July. There were no reports of violence or injury and they were quickly released to be replaced by a small number of company officials.
Three hundred Indians are involved in the protest, mostly from the Enawene Nawe tribe. According to them, the dams are polluting rivers and killing the fish. Not consulted prior to the project, the indigenous protestors feel forced to act after a year of catching almost no fish. Although the Brazilian government has imported farmed fish to feed the tribe, this is not acceptable to them. Local river fish have been the main source of protein for the Enawene Nawe and most other indigenous Amazon people for thousands of years.
Some 77 dams are proposed for the Jurema river, upstream of the Enawene Nawe. Five of these are already being built. More hydro projects are also planned for the Aripuana river where this protest is presently taking place in the State of Mato Grosso.
In another corner of the Brazilian Amazon, the Awa Indians are also planning a protest for the first few days of August. Here, in Maranhão state, a hundred members of the Awa tribe will emerge from the forest to protest in the town of Ze Doca. Their aim is to prove their very existence and demand recognition of their land rights . Many of them have never been out of the forest before. Following recent comments by a local mayor’s office claiming that the Awa did not exist, the protest is seen as essential to stopping their land being the target of illegal loggers and settlers.