A rendering of the proposed Belo Monte Dam

A rendering of the proposed Belo Monte Dam

Belo Monte Dam: Not Over Yet, Construction Can Continue

The Brazilian Supreme Court has ruled that the construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam can resume, for now.

On August 27th the Chief Justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court Carlos Ayres Britto announced that the court had overturned an August 14th ruling by the Federal Regional Tribunal of the First Region that had suspended construction of the Belo Monte Dam.

The Supreme Court made the ruling in response to a complaint filed by the Attorney General of the Republic, which asserted in a press statement that the suspension would cause “irreparable damage to public patrimony.”

However, Chief Justice Britto also noted that the merits of the case, on whether it was constitutional for the Congress to have acted without consulting the indigenous residents of the affected area, had yet to be decided. No date has been set for the next phase of the case.

“This unfortunate decision doesn’t invalidate the Tribunal’s judgment that the project is unconstitutional,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director of Amazon Watch. “This is a failure of the judiciary to stand up to entrenched interests and the power of a politically motivated executive branch that wants the Belo Monte Dam to move forward at all costs.”

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office is expected to appeal Britto’s decision and demand a review by the full Supreme Court

“This suspension was based on an instrument dating back to the time of the dictatorship and is still used in Brazil. We’ve had favorable decisions on many of our legal actions, but they can end up suspended by such measures,” said Felicio Pontes Jr., a federal public prosecutor in the state of Pará and one of the authors of the lawsuit filed in 2006 that questions Congressional authorization of Belo Monte in the absence of prior consultations with Indigenous Peoples.

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