Deforestation, especially in the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru, was the main driver of this year’s disastrous flooding in the Madeira river watershed in Bolivia’s Amazon rainforest and the drainage basin across the border, in Brazil.
“We are victims of progress,”complained Osmar Santos Coelho, known as Santico. His fishing community has disappeared, displaced to make way for a port complex on São Marcos bay, to the west of São Luis, the capital of the state of Maranhão in Brazil’s northeast.
The Carajás railroad, regarded as the most efficient in Brazil, runs a loss-making passenger service for the benefit of the population. But this does little to make amends for its original sin: it was created to export minerals and crosses an area of chronic poverty.
“My nephew was eight years old when he stepped in the ‘munha’ [charcoal dust] and burned his legs up to the knees,” said Angelita Alves de Oliveira from a corner of Brazil’s Amazonia that has become a deadly hazard for local people.
The Itaparica hydroelectric power plant occupied land belonging to the Pankararu indigenous people, but while others were compensated, they were not. They have lost land and access to the São Francisco river, charge native leaders in Paulo Afonso, a city in northeastern Brazil.
Valdenor de Melo has been waiting for 27 years for the land and cash compensation he is due because his old farm was left underwater when the Itaparica hydroelectric dam was built on the São Francisco river in Brazil’s semiarid Northeast.
As they build huge hydropower dams, the Brazilian government and companies have run into resistance from environmentalists, indigenous groups and social movements. But the binational Itaipú plant is an exception, where cooperation is the name of the game.
Everything indicates that the decisive battle between harnessing hydropower and preserving the Amazon will play out in the Tapajós river basin in Brazil. At stake there are a potential of nearly 30,000 MW and a vital part of the Amazon rainforest.
The massive Itaipú hydroelectric dam, shared by Brazil and Paraguay, has now become a model for the micro-scale production of an energy source that is not only clean, but also helps to reduce pollution and promote local development: biogas.
In the war over major hydropower dams in the Amazon jungle, everyone loses - even the winners who manage to overcome the opposition and build them, but who suffer delays, costs that are difficult to recoup, and damage to their image.
The decisions taken by the Brazilian government in the fight against drought in the country’s semiarid Northeast are an example of the disconnect between politicians and the citizens, which triggered an unexpected wave of protests in June.
The first surprise on arriving at Abel Manto's farm is how green it is, in contrast with the dry brown surroundings. His beans and fruit trees seem oblivious to the persistent drought in the semi-arid hinterland of northeast Brazil, the worst in 50 years.
The Mercosur and Pacific Alliance blocs can strengthen Latin American integration rather than weaken it, analysts say.
The Brazilian national football team made a glorious comeback with its victory in the FIFA Confederations Cup, but the sport has lost its tight grip on society. While millions celebrated, the tournament was also another source of anger for the protesters that have filled the streets in the last few weeks.
A group of young people touched a nerve in Brazil’s large cities, triggering an outpouring of urban outrage at the deterioration of transportation conditions and of the quality of life.