Indigenous territory in Northern Brazil threatened by large infrastructure projects

The Brazilian government seeks to open up the Tapajós basin to large-scale infrastructure projects

Brasil de Fato | Belém (Pará) |
Critics argue the plan would accelerate deforestation, habitat loss and increase social problems
Critics argue the plan would accelerate deforestation, habitat loss and increase social problems - Site Intersindical

The Munduruku peoples living in the Brazilian state of Para achieved a major victory this past week forcing the Brazilian government to cancel a public hearing to discuss the possibility of building the Ferrogrão grain railway, which seeks to increase the volume of agricultural exports.

The proposed railway, known as EF-170, would have serious implications on the ancestral territory of the Munduruku Indigenous Peoples, said Alessandra Korap Munduruku, leader of the Pariri Indigenous Association. 

“We know what the negative impacts that this railway will have on our territory, especially on the local river systems. The railway only seeks to benefit foreign companies that are involved in soya production, which is killing indigenous peoples throughout Brazil,” Alessandra Korap Munduruku stated. 

The proposed railway is part of the Brazilian government’s attempt to expand the country’s railway networks in order to increase the volume of agricultural exports, particularly corn and soybean crops. 

Soybean production, in particular, has grown at an average rate of 13.4 percent per year for the past 20 years. However, it has become a primary threat to the survival of the Brazilian forest, its peoples and global climate stability.

“In order to grow soya they must contaminate our rivers. Our livelihood comes from the rivers and so will no accept this,” Alessandra Korap Munduruku stated. 

In the coming years, the Brazilian government along with Chinese and European companies, hope to build several infrastructure projects that would connect large agricultural companies located in Para to the Port of Miritituba in the Tapajós waterway. 

In a recent report published by Diana Aguiar, detailed the plan to open up the Tapajós basin, which is roughly the area of France, citing the proposed construction of several infrastructure projects, including hydro-eclectic dams, river ports, highways and mining projects.  

“So, what you end up having a massive convergence of economic interests of corporations. Constructions firms seek to reap the financial benefits from lucrative construction contracts. Meanwhile, the utility companies would obtain enormous profits generated by energy production. On the other hand, the mining sector would benefit by using the electric energy to sustain large-scale mining projects. Finally, agribusiness companies would benefit from the dams by making waterway systems more navigable for barges to transport grains,” Aguiar pointed out.

Edited by: Camila Salmázio | Version in English: Nate Singham