Amazon tribe block highway to stop hydroelectric dams

A remote Amazonian tribe are blockading a major highway in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso in protest at a series of hydroelectric dams that will destroy their vital fishing grounds. The Enawene Nawe Indians set up their blockade yesterday morning.

Companies led by the world’s largest soya producers, the Maggi family, are pushing for a vast complex of dams to be built along the Juruena river which flows through the tribe’s land. Europe buys half the soya exported from Mato Grosso.

The Enawene Nawe, who eat no red meat, fear the fish they rely on will no longer be able to reach their spawning grounds. Some of the Indians have left their village for the first time to join the protest.

The tribe, who number only 450, are also protesting over destruction of a crucial area of their land by cattle ranchers who are cutting down the forests and polluting the rivers with pesticides.

The Enawene Nawe have said, ‘The dams will bring our death, as they will raise the uncontrollable anger of the spirits.’ Read an open letter from the Enawene Nawe to the Brazilian government.

Local ranchers say they will apply for a court injunction to remove the Enawene Nawe blockade on highway MT-170.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This tiny, unique tribe knows that its very survival is threatened by deforestation and the planned dams. The Brazilian government must wake up to this fact and protect the Enawene Nawe’s land before it is too late.’

ENDS

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]