Brazil, which boasts that it has one of the cleanest energy mixes in the world, is now plagued by corruption, poor market conditions, and bad decisions – a near fatal combination.
The BR-163 highway, an old dream of the Brazilian military to colonise the Amazon jungle, was revived by agroexporters as part of a plan aimed at cutting costs by shipping soy out of river ports. But the improvement of the road has accentuated problems such as deforestation and land tenure, and is fuelling new social conflicts.
At dusk on the Tapajós River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River in northern Brazil, the Mundurukú indigenous people gather to bathe and wash clothes in these waters rich in fish, the staple of their diet. But the “evil spirit”, as they refer in their language to the Sao Luiz Tapajós dam, threatens to leave most of their territory – and their way of life – under water.
River port terminals in the northern Brazilian city of Santarém are considered strategic by the government. But what some see as an opportunity for development is for others an irreversible change in what was previously a well-preserved part of the Amazon rainforest.
In the northern Brazilian state of Pará, the construction of a port terminal for shipping soy out of the Amazon region has displaced thousands of small farmers from their land, which is now dedicated to monoculture.
In the case of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in Brazil, the projects aimed at mitigating the social impacts have been delayed. But in other cases, infrastructure such as hospitals and water and sewage pipes could improve the image of the hydropower plants on Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rivers, turning them into a factor of effective local development.
Paulo de Oliveira drives a taxi in the northern Brazilian city of Altamira, but only when he is out of work in what he considers his true profession: operator of heavy vehicles like trucks, mixers or tractor loaders.
Ethnocide, the new accusation leveled against the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, brings to light deeper underlying aspects of the conflicts and controversies unleashed by megaprojects in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
Small-scale fisherpersons were among the first forgotten victims of mega construction projects like the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingú River in the Brazilian Amazon.
Some argue that the sustainable use of biodiversity is the best alternative for local development in the area surrounding the enormous Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, now that the construction project is entering its final phase on the Xingú River in Brazil’s Amazon jungle.
A global civil society petition to save the Amazon is circulating on the internet and its promoters say that once one million signatures have been collected indigenous leaders will deliver it directly to the governments of Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.
The digital revolution that is continuing to develop at lightening speed is an exciting new ally in our fight for global food security in the face of climate change.
When the advances made towards curbing global warming are analysed in the first 12 days of December in Lima, during the 20th climate conference, Latin America will present some achievements, as well as the many challenges it faces in “decarbonising development”.
Agricultural losses are no longer the most visible effect of the drought plaguing Brazil’s most developed region. Now the energy crisis and the threat of water shortages in the city of São Paulo are painful reminders of just how dependent Brazilians are on regular rainfall.
The world’s last remaining forest wilderness is rapidly being lost – and much of this is taking place in Canada, not in Brazil or Indonesia where deforestation has so far made the headlines.