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Protesters demand end to controversial Amazon dam

San Francisco protest. ©Caroline Bennett/Amazon Watch

Protesters in dozens of cities demanded Brazil abandon a plan to build a dam on one of the Amazon’s largest tributaries, reports Amazon Watch, an NGO that helped organize the events.

Amazon Watch says outrage over the Belo Monte dam, which will block the Xingu river, flooding more than 40,000 hectares of rainforest and displacing over 20,000 people, resulted in demonstrations 15 Brazilian cities on Saturday and 23 cities in 17 countries on Monday. Protesters also criticized a move by Brazil’s Congress to weaken the country’s Forest Code, which requires landowners to maintain substantial areas of forest on private lands. The push to rollback the Forest Code is being lead by agroindustrial interests and is opposed by indigenous groups, small farmers, scientists, and environmentalists.

“These protests were organized via social media networks. This is a new chapter in the struggle to defend the Amazon, and everyday more people are getting involved,” said Christian Poirier, Brazil Program Coordinator at Amazon Watch. “The Dilma Rousseff government is at crossroads. The world is calling on her to demonstrate courage and leadership and take immediate actions to safeguard the Amazon for future generations.”

Amazon Watch notes that some 1.4 million people have so far signed a online petition posted by Avaaz demanding the Rousseff government cancel Belo Monte and veto any weakening of the Forest Code.

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