BELO MONTE: While Dam company continues construction of dam – Indigenous Peoples suffer: insufficient health care and overflow of hospital

By Rebecca Sommer

While workers are protesting bad work conditions at the construction site of the Belo Monte dam, in Brazil, Altamira, the indigenous population of the region is struggling with ever increasing negative impacts directly caused by the dam’s company NESA.

It was always understood, and actually one of the conditions before any construction work was to be granted by the Brazilian Government, that the infrastructure of sleepy jungle town Altamira had to be adequately addressed, to avoid human suffering due to the increasing population growth caused by thousands and thousands of workers settling there.

In the case of the indigenous peoples in Altamira, they do suffer. Unnecessarily, because of ruthlessness, corruption, and lack of ethics.

While the FUNAI had filled its pockets with moneys from NESA (nothing else but one governmental

Araweté (PHOTO © REBECCA SOMMER)

Araweté (PHOTO © REBECCA SOMMER)

branch shifting moneys back and forth with the other), that where supposed to directly benefit the indigenous populations, and while the indigenous peoples have been bribed, divided and lied at by NESA high level employees about the Belo Monte dam’s impact, about the access to benefits, projects, and moneys that they would receive, that would reduce not only the (by purpose underestimated) negative impact but would also help them to prosper and have a better life than before, nothing of that has actually taken place.

The opposite. The Belo Monte dam construction is moving along, while the indigenous peoples are dealing with growing health problems, an over spilling hospital that has always been infamous for its notorious lack of professionals, medicine, appropriately trained staff, space, and insufficient staff.

CASAI, a place set aside to house sick indigenous patients, is not only beyond being overloaded, the indigenous health care facility has only one functioning car to transport the indigenous patients back and forth to sometimes months long delayed appointments with the hospital’s doctors.

Worse, the same car is also used to pick up sick patients from remote indigenous villages. We are talking about a possible two days ride.

“A very sick person has to wait for weeks to actually see a doctor. The hospital is extremely overfilled, it is scary. Sometime a person could be cured in no time, if attended, but after weeks of waiting their condition is often much much worse.” Said Ngrenhdjan Xikrin, from the Indigenous Kayapo Xikrin organization ABEX “Only one car is available to pick up or return patients, bringing them to the hospital, back to the villages, to CASAI, to the Casa do Indio. Imagine how much we are suffering right now, the situation is much worse, beyond description.” She added.

Where did all the money go, that NESA, the hydroelectric dam company, claims to have paid already to those governmental branches that are supposed to use those moneys to improve the health care situation of the indigenous peoples?

16th of April the indigenous leaders have once again a meeting with the relevant authorities. How many more, before they are finally heard?

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