Brazil's proposed construction of what would be the third largest hydroelectric dam on the planet has drawn ire from environmental groups the world over. The planned dam at Belo Monte, protestors say, will flood and destroy much of the region's plant and animal life, as well as displace the indigenous peoples there. So contentious has been this project that even Avatar director James Cameron and rocker Sting have joined the protest, arguing that the entire world has a stake in the Amazon. Brazil's President Lula, however, thinks "gringos" need to stay out of it.According to a report from Globo, Brazilian President Lula spoke out in support of the controversial dam at Belo Monte project, arguing against the meddling of foreigners in affairs related to the Amazon. In his speech, he presents Brazil as not merely a custodian of the world's largest rainforest, often referred to as the "lungs of the earth," but rather its undisputable owner.
Sometimes gringos come and give unsolicited advice about Brazil. We need to show to the world that no one more than us wants to take care of the rainforest. It is ours. No gringo should stick their nose where it does not belong, because we will know to take care of our forests and of our development.
While few projects have generated as much international protest in recent years as the proposed dam at Belo Monte, foreigners have hardly been the loudest voice in opposition to it. Protests have been relentless from several of the nation's indigenous groups, who recently went as far as attempting to storm the Capitol to air their grievances.
Perhaps the most alarming thing about Brazil's apparent new stance against foreigners having vested interested in the well-being of the Amazon is just how contradictory it is to positions in the past. Just last November, President Lula argued that the world was responsible for protecting the rainforests of Brazil and that wealthy nations should pay up.
Lula, as quoted in The Guardian:
I don't want any gringo asking us to let an Amazon resident die of hunger under a tree. We want to preserve, but they will have to pay the price for this preservation because we never destroyed our forest like they mowed theirs down a century ago.
Despite all the protests, both from inside and outside of Brazil, the dam at Belo Monte--some twenty years in the making--was given the green light to move forward. The repercussions of this apparently anti-foreign protest stance, however, may be greater than the 500 square kilometers to be flooded or the 40 thousand lives to be affected by the dam itself--particularly as plans are made to build 100 similar dams across the Amazon over the next 20 years.