More than two decades after he first protested the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the Amazon, Sting is once again speaking out against the dam as Brazil moves ahead with the project.
While in Venezuela for a concert, on Tuesday the singer took time out of his schedule to attend a news conference about the dam. The proposed 11,000-megawatt Belo Monte dam, to be located on the Xingu River in Pará, Brazil, would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric energy producer.
"I stand in solidarity with the indigenous people who are trying to stop it," Sting said.
“All of the reasons I fought against it 20 years ago are still there. It will destroy an entire river system and destroy the lives and culture of the people who live there and have lived there for thousands of years. The dam is too far away from Sao Paulo to be any use to ordinary Brazilians. The plan is for it to be the first of six or seven dams, with even more destruction.”
Back in 1989 the singer joined Brazilian Indians in protesting the Belo Monte dam. The protest helped convince international leaders not to finance the dam and the project was put on hold.
Brazil and the rainforest means a lot to Sting. After visiting the rainforest in 1989 he and his wife Trudie Styler founded the Rainforest Fund in response to a Kayapo Indian leader’s request to help preserve the land and culture in Brazil.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva claims the dam will greatly benefit the country by supplying the growing population in the region, producing clean energy and supporting the economy. Because the country’s economy is doing fairly well the government is moving ahead on the project on its own. Last month Norte Energia, a consortium of nine companies, won the bidding for the contract to build the dam.
Silva says the dam will only displace 16,000 people whereas activists counter that the figure is closer to 40,000.
Environmentalist and indigenous groups say the dam will destroy wildlife and ruin the livelihoods of people living in the area. Activists argue that the electricity generated from the dam will mostly benefit mining companies as opposed to citizens. Another concern is that this won’t be the only new dam because several more dams would have to be built to add to the reservoir storage capacity in order to make the project financially viable.
In addition to Sting, celebrities such as film director James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver have also voiced their concerns about the dam.
On May 13 Sting and his wife will celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Rainforest Fund with a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. The event will feature performances by Sting, Elton John, Lady Gaga and Shirley Bassey in addition to a live and silent auction and gala dinner. The Fund has worked with more than 100 local organization to protect more than 115,000 square kilometers of rainforest.
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