Monday, August 1, 2011

Brazil to ‘do to Indians what Australia did to Aboriginals’

26 July 2011
Source: Survival International

A Brazilian government official has suggested that Brazil will treat its indigenous peoples like Australia treated the Aboriginals.

Curt Trennepohl, President of Brazil’s environment agency IBAMA, replied ‘yes, yes’ when an Australian journalist asked him, ‘Are you going to do to the Indians what we did to the Aborigines?’

In the same interview, regarding the impacts of the planned Belo Monte dam on tribal people in the Amazon, Trennepohl stated that his role was not to look after the environment, rather to ‘minimize the impacts’.

The Belo Monte dam, if built, will devastate a large stretch of Amazon rainforest upon which thousands of tribal people depend for their survival.

The indigenous communities have not been consulted about the project. They have held several protests against the dam, in Brazil and in Europe, and the Kayapó tribe has warned that if the dam is built, the Xingu river will become a ‘river of blood’.

Earlier this year, IBAMA’s previous President resigned, allegedly following intense pressure from the Ministry of Mines and Energy and from Brazil’s new President Dilma Rousseff, to allow Belo Monte to be built despite huge opposition.

Many Aboriginal people in Australia were wiped out following the theft of their land from the end of the 18th century onwards. Today, many live in appalling conditions with a much lower life expectancy than the rest of the population.