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BRAZIL
Dam sparks tensions with OAS
5/5/2011
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Government cuts ties to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights over contentious Belo Monte dam.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cut off relations with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a branch of the Organization of American States, or OAS, in late April, in response to the body´s request earlier in the month that Brazil suspend work on the massive Belo Monte hydroelectric project.

According to media reports, Rousseff had also called back Brazil´s ambassador to the Washington-based OAS, Ruy Casaes.

Brazil is steaming ahead with the US$11-billion Amazon project, which would become the world´s third-largest dam. The project, which sits on the Xingu River, has sparked an outcry from indigenous, environmental and human rights groups as well as prominent filmmakers and former politicians, including former US President Bill Clinton, who warn that the flooding required for the dam would cause irreversible environmental and social damage.

Brazilian iron-ore miner Vale is planning to invest close to $1.4 billion on the construction of the project, but some multinational corporations are reportedly staying away, worried that the controversial project carries too much risk. Among them are French utility company GDF Suez and a unit of US-based Alcoa.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had called for Brazil´s government to suspend the project so the indigenous communities that could potentially be affected by the dam could receive a previous and informed consultation, one of the pillars of the International Labor Organization´s Convention 169 on indigenous peoples. But Brazil´s government contends that the project is necessary to meet the country´s growing energy needs.
—Latinamerica Press.


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