Update from Rio: Strengthening the Alliance of River Defenders
Today was another action-packed and memorable day in Rio. In the morning, we co-organized an event at the People’s Summit on debunking the myth of destructive dams as clean energy. The event started with an excellent presentation by Felicio Pontes, the Federal Public Prosecutor from the state of Pará who has fearlessly taken on government and private sector corruption in the Brazilian dam industry, especially in the case of Belo Monte. This was followed by inspiring words from leaders of the movements resisting dams in key rivers of the Brazilian Amazon: Madeira, Tapajos-Teles Pires, Tocantins-Araguaia and the Xingu.
Short presentations were also made by colleagues from campaigns in the Peruvian Amazon and Turkey. Jason Rainey, International Rivers' executive director, caught everyone's attention by recounting his personal experience in the campaign to restore and protect the Yuba River, and reflecting on the connections between our movements around the world.
The meeting ended with a surprise visit by Chief Raoni and Megaron of the Kayapó people, who joined Sheyla Juruna, Antônia Melo and other leaders from the Xingu to address the crowd.
A common element among the speakers was the reaffirmation of commitments to protect rivers and the rights of those who depend upon them as essential to life on a healthy planet. This includes strengthening cooperation among movements around common objectives as part of the growing international movement for rivers.
Soon after the meeting ended, we headed out to an adjacent beach at Aterro do Flamengo to participate in a human banner organized by our friends from Amazon Watch and the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and aerial artist John Quigley. The image is of an indigenous person touching the sun, symbolizing the harnessing of sources of truly clean and renewable energy, surrounded by a river and the words Rios para a Vida (Rivers for Life). Truly inspiring and a lot of fun!
- Read Brent's article from the June 2012 WRR: "The Amazon: Dirty Dams, Dirty Politics and the Myth of Clean Energy."
- Press Release from June 15: Amazonian Communities Occupy the Belo Monte Dam Site
- See photos from the Xingu+23 encounter.
- Brazil Energy Symposium
- Rio+20 Earth Summit
- View a video from the "Rios para a vida" human banner