Amazon Dam Project Moves Ahead

As construction begins on two large dams in the Amazon, thousands of indigenous people grapple with the prospect of the coming flood and the loss of their land, while environmentalists continue to oppose the construction.
October 17, 2008, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"'I don't know what's going to happen,' he said. 'I don't have any experience outside of this.'

"The task he and his neighbors are undertaking is to re-imagine their lives. They cannot stop the dam now. Once the waters rise, Jose da Silva Machado, 45, will no longer ferry schoolchildren across the river, nor fish in its rapids, nor live on its banks. Leonel Pereira de Souza, 61, insisted that his vegetable farm, where he was born, raised his children and grandchildren, is not for sale. Period. Yet he knows that conviction will dissolve in the flood."

"Construction began late last month on one of two massive hydroelectric dams that are to span the Madeira River, a main tributary of the Amazon River and a major waterway that runs from the Andes across the rain forests of South America."

"For the Brazilian government, this is prudent preparation, more than six years in planning, for a burgeoning economy's appetite for electricity. The two dams, the $5 billion Santo Antonio and the planned Jirau dam, will eventually produce 6,450 megawatts of electricity, according to the state electric company participating in the project."

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Published on Monday, October 13, 2008 in The Washington Post
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