Roughly 200 members of the Munduruku, an Indigenous ethnic group in Brazil, have occupied the construction site of Sao Manoel Hydroelectric Power Plant since Sunday, with one of their main grievances being that the company hold consultations with the group before construction resumes.
Located at the division between the states of Para and Mato Grosso, the occupation of UHE was planned during a meeting of the Munduruku women's group, “Aya Cayu Waydip Pe.” The Indigenous group has denounced environmental and human rights violations by the company since 2011, according to Brasil de Fato.
Owned by EDP Energia do Brasil of Portugal, Three Gorgers Corp of China, and Furnas, a Brazilian company controlled by Eletrobras, the construction of UHE is budgeted at roughly US$942 million, according to Reuters.
Maria Leusa Kabaiwun Munduruku, one of the occupation leaders, explained that the plant is situated on land considered sacred to the Munduruku.
“We want the company and the government to apologize to us. Our sacred territory was destroyed,” she said, adding that before occupying the work site the Munduruku held a ceremony to ask their ancestors for permission to do so.
The Munduruku also demand the return of funerary urns which were unearthed during the construction of the plant.
Another protest leader, Valdenir Munduruku, insisted that the demonstrators "will remain here until our demands are met."
“Our ancestors were buried there and this place was destroyed. When we die, Munduruku spirits go to that locale. Now our spirits wander aimlessly. They have no peace and quiet. There's no place for them to go,” Kabaiwun Munduruku lamented.
The Munduruku propose that UHE, and other companies responsible for the construction of the plant, create a fund dedicated to the preservation of Munduruku culture and sacred lands and the establishment of a university on their territory.
They also demand that Sawre Muybu, an Indigenous territory of 178 thousand hectares that hasn't been legally demarcated for over nine years, be formally recognized by the state.