The Plight of The Amazonian’s Indigenous

The Brazilian government is building the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River, a major Amazon tributary. Now over fifty percent complete, the Belo Monte Dam complex is designed to divert eighty percent of the Xingu River’s flow which will thus devastate an area of over 1,500 square kilometers of Brazilian rainforest and cause the forced displacement of up to 40,000 people. This project gravely impacts the land and livelihoods of thousands of riverine, urban families and communities, and indigenous peoples from several neighboring areas.

The Xingu River basin is a living symbol of Brazil’s cultural and biological diversity; it is home to 25,000 indigenous people from 40 ethnic groups. The Xingu flows north 2,271 kilometers from the central savanna region of Mato Grosso to the Amazon River. Nominally protected throughout most of its course by indigenous reserves and conservation units, the Xingu basin is severely impacted by cattle ranching and soy monocultures. Belo Monte is the first in a planned network of mega-dam projects which will pose additional devastation to an already threatened region.

A project hailing from Brazil’s military dictatorship, Belo Monte continues to exhibit the same alarming authoritarian tendencies associated with this brutal regime. To understand more about the history of this project, explore an interactive timeline, which chronicles thirty years of injustice surrounding the approval and construction of the mega-dam.

Since the initiation of construction in 2011, the city of Altamira has witnessed a massive influx of migrants, provoking a spike in criminal activities, as well as the collapse of health, education, and sanitation services. Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy set December 15th as the date to auction the construction of the massive São Luiz do Tapajós hydroelectric dam, the first in a series of large dams slated for construction on the Tapajós River, one of the Amazon’s largest tributaries. The announcement immediately provoked the condemnation of local indigenous peoples, who criticized the federal government’s failure to ensure respect for their rights, as guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution and international human rights agreements.

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The move enflamed tensions in this precarious and remote region, while portending conflict with the region’s threatened indigenous peoples, particularly the Munduruku people, one of the largest surviving Amazonian tribes, whose territories and communities span much of the Tapajós basin.

In response to the announcement, the indigenous organization Movimento Munduruku Ipereg Ayuissued an open letter denouncing the Brazilian government’s “lies”, citing a recent meeting with high-level federal officials who promised that the dam would not proceed without a process of free, prior, and informed consultation with indigenous and traditional communities. Domestic law and international human rights agreements such as International Labor Organization Convention 169 (ILO169), to which Brazil is a signatory, require such consultations.

“We know that prior consultation should take place before any decision concerning the dam,” affirms the Munduruku statement, which demands the immediate cancellation of the auction. “Is the government throwing ILO169 in the garbage? Once again the government shows that it does not aim to dialogue with us.”

“This decision is another enormous blow to the indigenous right to consultation, just as we’ve seen with the Belo Monte dam,” said Maíra Irigaray of Amazon Watch. “President Rousseff’s administration’s disregard of Brazil’s traditional populations is shameful.”

The announcement of the São Luiz do Tapajós dam auction comes on the heels of an escalating controversy over the ambitious Amazon dam-building plans of the Rousseff government. Recent mega-dam projects – such as Belo Monte on the Xingu River, and Santo Antônio and Jirau on the Madeira river – have been plagued by major construction delays and massive cost overruns, in addition to serious socio-environmental impacts that have been left largely unmitigated by dam-builders. Suspicions of corruption within the dam industry have been heightened by a recent scandal involving Minister of Mines and Energy Edison Lobão, accused with grafting kickbacks from the state oil company Petrobras, which he oversees.

Find out more at http://www.amazonwatch.org

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Disarm – Turning Weapons Into Instruments

Pedro Reyes uses sculpture, video, and performance to explore the boundaries between the individual and the group, between ordinary experiences and extraordinary moments of interaction. His socially engaged practice seeks alternative methods to restore a peaceful society through pedagogy and participation.

He wants people to think about the availability of guns in the United States, and the impact that has in Mexico. At the University of South Florida in Tampa, he recently held a series of workshops and a performance, using theater to encourage a discussion about guns. It’s called “Legislative Theater,” a style of performance pioneered in Latin America in the 1960s to influence social change.

In Tampa, Reyes called his project “The Amendment to the Amendment.” Specifically, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms. Reyes asks his actors and the audience to consider if there are possible changes that might improve the amendment

Reyes believes art should address social issues like gun violence, even when they’re difficult and controversial. “We have to be allowed to ask questions,” he says. “If you are not allowed to ask questions, you are not free.”

Reyes also addresses the issue of gun violence in another way, by using guns themselves. His first project began in 2007 in the Mexican city of Culiacan. As part of a campaign to curb shootings, the city collected 1,527 guns. He used them to create art.

“Those 1,527 guns were melted and made into the same number of shovels,” he says. “So for every gun now, there’s a shovel. And with every shovel, we planted a tree.”

Find out more at http://www.pedroreyes.net

Overfishing: Current World Fisheries and Aquaculture

Despite an increased awareness of overfishing, the majority of people still know very little about the scale of the destruction being wrought on the oceans. This film presents an unquestionable case for why overfishing needs to end and shows that there is still an opportunity for change.

Over the past 55 years, as fisheries have returned lower and lower yields, humans have begun to understand that the oceans we’d assumed were unendingly vast and rich are in fact highly vulnerable and sensitive. Add overfishing to pollution, climate change, habitat destruction, and acidification, and a picture of a system in crisis emerges.

Many scientists say most fish populations could be restored with aggressive fisheries management, better enforcement of laws governing catches, and increased use of aquaculture. And in many regions, there is reason for hope. But illegal fishing and unsustainable harvesting still plagues the industry. And a public grown accustomed to abundant seafood and largely apathetic about the plight of the oceans complicates efforts to repair the damage we’ve done.

The Recycled Orchestra: Paraguay

The world generates about a billion tons of garbage a year. Those who live with it and from it are the poor – like the people of Cateura, Paraguay. And here they are transforming it into beauty. Landfill Harmonic follows the orchestra as it takes its inspiring spectacle of trash-into-music around the world. Follow the lives of a garbage picker, a music teacher and a group of children from a Paraguayan slum that out of necessity started creating instruments entirely out of garbage. Landfill Harmonic is a beautiful story about the trans-formative power of music, which also highlights two vital issues of our times: poverty and waste pollution.

Click here to learn more.

Four Wheels to Freedom

Afsana is a female professional driver in Bangladesh trained by BRAC as part of its “Women Steering Forward” program. Despite opposition from family members, Afsana’s husband supported her career path. “For me, it’s like going out for battle in the street every morning, fighting this patriarchal monopoly,” says Afsana, who faces verbal abuse but remains undeterred. “I like the fact that things are changing and the next batch of drivers who are women can work freely in this society.”

Paying With Plastic: An Idea Worth Sharing

Beijing’s subway authorities have introduced reverse vending machines which allow travelers to offset their transit costs by recycling. Passengers insert a plastic bottle, wait twenty seconds until the bottle is crushed to a third of its original size. Donors then receive one jiao (1.6 cents) on their commuter passes for each empty bottle. The machines have been installed in two stations Jinsong and Shaoyaoju.

Gettlove: Ending Homelessness in America

Gettlove is a nonprofit organization founded by Aileen Getty in 2005 in response to homelessness in the Hollywood community. Gettlove believes in cultivating an enhanced community that embraces and sustains its most vulnerable residents. Gettlove is committed to providing services through a companionship model, whereby the case manager and client navigate the complex journey out of homelessness together. The relationship that is developed along the way is an essential component of Gettlove’s ability to share in each client’s challenges and joys in continuing to maintain a home.

Gettlove further strives to be both a catalyst and a model within the community implementing and evaluating innovative practices that if effective can be replicated throughout the country. Gettlove hopes to demonstrate the power of relationships, the importance of instilling a sense of belonging in every member of the community, and the effectiveness of permanent housing. Success is not only measured by numbers, but by improvements in quality of life for clients and for the community. The sustainable, long-term well being of the individuals we serve, and the Hollywood community as a whole, is Gettlove’s mission.

Find out more at http://www.gettlove.org

Don’t Just Exist, Live!!

“The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around. The real, deep down you is the whole universe.”
In this brief video, ‘The Real You’, Alan Watts teaches us to wake up from our self-created, self-centered world view, and see that not only are we a part of the whole, but we ARE the universe itself. His teachings give us an insight into our irrational fears and hesitance towards death. Through these concepts we can grasp with deeper understanding our own impermanence, and learn to live more fully.

Be sure to follow iamEARTH NYC on Instagram/TW/FB @iamearthnyc!!

Heartbeats of Fiji

Ben is searching for purpose. Masi is following a dream. From separate islands, yet connected through music, their paths crossed at the Fiji Beat Making Lab. Ben is the type of musician the world needs more of. Bringing the worlds of art and activism together—he’s an artivist.

Beat Making Lab builds studios in cultural centers around the world and trains youth musicians in the art of beat making. Follow their journey at http://www.beatmakinglab.com