Brazil’s Federal Environmental Agency announced the cancellation of licensing for the polemic São Luiz do Tapajós mega-dam, the largest hydroelectric project planned for the Amazon.

Following recommendations by Federal Public Prosecutors, the Brazilian agency for indigenous affairs, the decision reflects an official recognition that the São Luiz do Tapajós project is plagued by insurmountable legal obstacles: the flooding of indigenous lands that would cause the forced removal of indigenous Munduruku people from the traditional Sawre Muybu territory – prohibited under Brazil’s Constitution - and a series of other adverse social and environmental consequences of immense proportions that made it impossible to confirm the project’s viability.

The Munduruku people, along with International Rivers, Amazon Watch and other partners, welcomed today’s decision as a great success and an important precedent case. “We, Munduruku people, are very happy with the news. This is very important for us. Now, we will continue to fight against other dams in our rivers,” said Arnaldo Kabá Munduruku, Munduruku General Chief.

“Today’s decision is a major victory for the Munduruku, their allies and the rule of law in Brazil, sending a shot across the bow of the dam industry juggernaut in the Amazon,” noted Brent Millikan Amazon Program Director at International Rivers. “A next step will be to open public debate on the underlying causes of systematic violations of human rights and environmental law, in order to avoid similar disasters with other planned dams in the Tapajos and elsewhere in the Amazon.”

Another fundamental obstacle for São Luiz do Tapajós has been the imminent flooding of the Sawre Muybu indigenous territory, recently recognized by FUNAI as traditional Munduruku lands that should be demarcated according to the Brazilian Constitution. In early 2016, FUNAI expressed a formal opinion to IBAMA that the project would violate Brazil’s Constitution, given that it would forcibly remove Munduruku communities.

“We have been awaiting such a welcome announcement from the Brazilian government for more than a decade, while witnessing the tragic and unnecessary damming of the Madeira and Xingu Rivers during this time,” said Christian Poirier of Amazon Watch. “We are honored to stand beside the Munduruku people in their steadfast struggle in the defense of the Tapajós. Today’s victory belongs to them and will hopefully signal the end to further destructive dams in the Amazon.”

Munduruku warriors 

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