Passive revolution in the green economy: activism and the Belo Monte dam
- 1.2k Downloads
The paper offers an analysis of the historical, material, and ideational factors involved in shifting socio-environmental activism dynamics in Brazil, with a focus on the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project located on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon. Relying on qualitative research at a variety of levels, the paper seeks to answer the question: What does the Belo Monte case portend for our understanding of the capacity of green economy to facilitate a greater environmental sensitivity in a national context? The case study illustrates how green activism has been weakened by a combination of self-interested calculations by activists and strategic maneuvers by the state. Critically for environmental policymaking, the case study reveals how the state and its international allies can use the green economy discourse as a hegemonic tool to isolate opposition, break alliances, and further resource-extraction-oriented economic policies.
KeywordsHydroelectric energy Belo Monte Civil society Hegemony Green economy
Brazilian Development Bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social)
Belo Monte Construction Consortium (Consórcio Constructor Belo Monte)
Foundation for Life, Production, and Preservation (Fundação Viver Produzir e Preservar)
Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens)
Movement for the Development of the Transamazon and Xingu (Movimento pelo Desenvolvimento da Transamazônica e Xingu)
Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores)
Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis)
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
I am grateful to The School of International Service at American University for their generous support of this research.
- Amazon Watch. (2012a). Amazonian indigenous peoples occupy Belo Monte dam site. Translation, Clarice Cohn. http://amazonwatch.org/news/2012/0623-amazonian-indigenous-peoples-occupy-belo-monte-dam-site. Accessed August 1, 2012.
- Amazon Watch. (2012b). After 21 days, indigenous occupation of Belo Monte dam ends in discord. 12 July 2012. http://amazonwatch.org/news/2012/0712-after-21-days-indigenous-occupation-of-belo-monte-dam-ends-in-discord. Accessed August 1, 2012.
- Ascom MPF. (2012). MPF pede suspensão das obras de Belo Monte. NoTapajos.com, 24 July 2012. http://notapajos.globo.com/lernoticias.asp?t=MPF-pede-suspensao-obras-Belo-Monte&id=50604. Accessed July 27, 2012.
- Barrionuevo, A. (2011). Brazil rejects panel’s request to stop dam. New York Times. April 6, 2011, p. A13.Google Scholar
- Birns, L., & Soltis, K. (2011). Controversy in the Amazon. Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 9 June 2011. http://www.coha.org/controversy-in-the-amazon/.
- Brand, U. (2012). Green economy—The next oxymoron? No lessons learned from failures of implementing sustainable development. Gaia, 21(1), 28–32.Google Scholar
- Brazil, Government of Ministry of Mines and Energy. (2011). Projeto de usina hidrelétrica Belo Monte: Perguntas mais frequentes. February, 2011. http://www.mme.gov.br/mme/galerias/arquivos/belomonte/BELO_MONTE_-_Perguntas_mais_Frequentes.pdf. Accessed July 3, 2013.
- Coelho, M. C. N. (1994). Desenvolvimento sustentável, economía politica do meio ambiente e a problematica ecológica. In M. A. D’Inacao & I. M. da Silveira (organizers), Amazônia e a crise de modernização (pp. 381–388), Belém: Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi.Google Scholar
- Congresso Nacional do Brasil. (2005). Decreto Legislativo. 788/2005.Google Scholar
- Cox, R. (1983). Gramsci, hegemony and international relations: An essay in method. Journal of International Studies, 12(2), 162–175.Google Scholar
- da Silva, L. I. (2010a). Speech by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a rally for the Belo Monte Dam and the “development” of the Xingu Region. Speech. 22 June 2010. Translation, International Rivers Network. http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/speech-by-pres-lula-at-a-rally-for-the-belo-monte-dam-4293. Accessed February 22, 2013.
- da Silva, L. I. (2010b). Speech. Discurso do Presidente da República, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, na cerimônia de assinatura do contrato de concessão da Usina Hidrelétrica Belo Monte. Brasilia: Palacio do Planalto, 26 August, 2010 (translated by Eve Bratman). http://www.biblioteca.presidencia.gov.br/ex-presidentes/luiz-inacio-lula-da-silva/discursos/2o-mandato/2010/2o-semestre/26-08-2010-discurso-do-presidente-da-republica-luiz-inacio-lula-da-silva-na-cerimonia-de-assinatura-do-contrato-de-concessao-da-usina-hidreletrica-belo-monte/view. Accessed July 3, 2013.
- Elizondo, G. (2009). Kaipaó protest in Brazil against dams. Al Jazeera, 29 October 2009. http://blogs.aljazeera.com/blog/americas/kaipa%C3%B3-protest-brazil-against-dams.
- G1 Pará. (2012). Escritório de Belo Monte é depredado. O Liberal, 18 June 2012.Google Scholar
- Gill, S. R. (1993). Gramsci, historical materialism and international relations. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Graeff, B. (2012). Should we adopt a specific regulation to protect people that are displaced by hydroelectric projects? Reflections based on Brazilian law and the ‘Belo Monte’ case. Florida A&M University Law Review, 7(2), 261–285.Google Scholar
- Gramsci, A. (1971). The prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. Q. Hoare & G. Nowell Smith (Eds. and translators). London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
- Hayman, M. (2011). Brazil breaks relations with Human Rights Commission over Belo Monte Dam. LatinDispatch.com, 3 May 2011. http://latindispatch.com/2011/05/03/brazil-breaks-relations-with-human-rights-commission-over-belo-monte-dam/.
- Hurwitz, Z. (2011). IBAMA president resigns over Belo Monte licensing. International Rivers Network, 13 January 2011. http://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/258/ibama-president-resigns-over-belo-monte-licensing. Accessed July 3, 2013.
- Jampolsky, J. A. (2012). Activism is the new black! Demonstrating the benefits of international celebrity activism through James Cameron’s campaign against the Belo Monte dam. Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, 23(1), 227–256.Google Scholar
- Jornal Fatos Regionais. (2006). Mais de 30 mil pessoas vão as ruas de Altamira pedir a hidrelétrica Belo Monte. Journal Fatos Regionais. http://jornalfatosregionais.zip.net/arch2006-06-18_2006-06-24.html. Accessed July 27, 2012.
- Levy, D. L., & P. Newell. (2005). A neo-Gramscian approach to business in international environmental politics: An interdisciplinary, multilevel framework. The business of global environmental governance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- MDTX (Movimento pelo Desenvolvimento da Transamazônica e Xingu). (2001). Carta - SOS Xingu - Um chamamento ao bom senso sobre o represamento de rios na Amazônia. http://www.riosvivos.org.br/canal.php?mat=236. Accessed July 27, 2012.
- Mehta, L. (2001). Commentary: The World Bank and its emerging knowledge empire. Human Organization, 60(2), 189–196.Google Scholar
- Moya, C. A. F., et al. (2007). AHE Belo Monte – Evolução dos Estudos. Comitê Brasileiro de Barragens—27th National Seminar on Large Dams. Belém, Pará, 3–7 June 2007.Google Scholar
- Okereke, C., et al. (2009). Conceptualizing climate governance beyond the international regime. Global Environmental Politics, 9, 58–78.Google Scholar
- Parecer Técnico FUNAI. (2009). 21/CMAN/CGPIMA-FUNAI, 30 September 2009. http://www.ibama.gov.br/licenciamento/index.php, pp. 95–97. Accessed July 28, 2012.
- Perkins, J. (2012). Occupy the dam: Brazil’s indigenous uprising. Yes! Magazine (July 23, 2012). http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/occupy-the-dam-brazils-indigenous-uprising. Accessed August 1, 2012.
- Rothman, F. D. (2001). A comparative study of dam-resistance campaigns and environmental policy in Brazil. Journal of Environment & Development, 10(4), 317–344.Google Scholar
- Salazar, M. (2010). Apesar das promessas, os direitos são desrespeitados. Povos indigenas no Brasil 2006–2010 (pp. 464–477). Instituto Socioambiental: São Paulo.Google Scholar
- Schwartzman, S., et al. (2010). Social movements and large-scale tropical forest protection on the Amazon frontier: Conservation from chaos. Journal of Environment and Development, 19(3), 274–299. Google Scholar
- Scott, J. C. (2012). Two cheers for anarchism: Six easy pieces on autonomy, dignity, and meaningful work and play. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Soltis, K. (2011). Brazil disregards charges from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Report. Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 9 June 2011. http://www.coha.org/brazil-disregards-charges-from-the-inter-american-commission-on-human-rights/. Accessed July 3, 2013.
- Toni, F. (2006). Institutional choices on the Brazilian agricultural frontier: Strengthening civil society or outsourcing centralized natural resource management? Conference paper. International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP), Bali, Indonesia.Google Scholar
- Tsing, A. L. (2005). Friction: An ethnography of global connection. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- UNEP. (2011). Towards a green economy: Pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication. http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/ger/GER_synthesis_en.pdf. Accessed July 1, 2013.
- World Commission on Dams. (2000). Dams and development: A new framework for decision-making. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar