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Xingu River

Map of the Big Bend of the Xingu

Map of the Big Bend of the Xingu, showing principal impacts of Belo Monte and Babaquara dams
See larger image

The Xingu River flows from the cerrado (tropical savanna) of central Mato Grosso, Brazil northward to the Amazon for 1,979 km (1,230 miles). Its basin covers an area of 531,000 km². Some 14,000 indigenous people, from nine distinct ethnic groups, live along the Xingu. In 1989, an international mobilization, led by the Kayapó Indians, stopped state electric company Eletronorte’s plans to construct a six–dam complex on the Xingu and its tributary, the Iriri.

Now, Eletronorte is using a new strategy of proposing the construction of one huge dam on the Xingu, called Belo Monte. Even as currently designed, Belo Monte would leave indigenous communities along the Xingu’s Big Bend high and dry. Opponents of Belo Monte say the dam will be highly inefficient, with its turbines grinding to a halt for three months every year during the river’s lowest stream flow. Facing this reality, studies have resumed for the Babaquara Dam upstream to store water during the dry season. As originally designed, Babaquara would flood 2,400 square miles of the rainforest. The Xingu dams complex would directly affect the Xingu indigenous park and other indigenous reserves within the Amazon rainforest.

latest additions

Indigenous Peoples Say "No" to Xingu Dams
June 3, 2007.
Piaraçu Declaration
Read the declaration of diverse Kayapó indigenous communities rejecting plans for hydroelectric dams on the Xingu, April 2006.
Tenotã–Mõ: Alertas sobre as Consequencias dos Projetos Hidrelétricos no rio Xingu
Texto do livro publicado pela IRN, ISA, CPISP, MDTX, FASE, PBSD analisando os impactos das hidrelétricas sendo planejadas no rio Xingu, março de 2005.
Additional Information

Glenn Switkes, Latin America Campaigns Director

International Rivers Network


Phone: +55 11 3822 4157