Rousseff roils Amazon as Brazil hydropower makes people homeless

Michael Smith – Businessweek, 04/11/2012

At the construction site of the Santo Antonio Dam in the western Amazon, towering cranes and turbines dwarf thousands of workers on the ground. Photographer: Andre Vieira/Bloomberg Markets via Bloomberg

Jose Carlos Arara puts a tarnished 38-caliber revolver into his waistband. It’s a sweltering, mid- November morning in the Brazilian Amazon rain forest, and the 31-year-old Indian chief walks through the jungle to check on his tribe’s yuca crop.

Assassins are hunting Arara, police say, because he opposes plans to build the world’s third-largest hydroelectric dam across the Xingu River, 2,300 kilometers north of Sao Paulo. The Xingu flows halfway across the country from Brazil’s western grain belt to the heart of the Amazon, and the 116 members of his tribe, the Araras, depend on the river for fishing, transport and drinking water.

Two armed policemen escort Arara whenever he leaves the 25,000-hectare (62,000-acre) Xingu Big Bend Arara Indian Reservation, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its May issue. The bodyguards don’t protect Arara inside the reservation, so he carries a gun.

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