brazil: resisting the garabi dam

The Initiative for the Integration of the South American Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA) is a development plan which involves the construction of highways, mega dams, ports and pipelines across South America, particularly in remote, isolated regions. If built, these will have devastating consequences for Indigenous People, biodiversity and the climate and could lead to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
brazil: resisting the garabi dam

One such project is the Garabi dam, planned for the upper Uruguay River which also borders Argentina and Paraguay. If built, this dam would turn the river into a series of ponds, flood nearly 33,000 hectares of inhabited land, and choke water supplies to downstream Uruguay.


what happened?

Friends of the Earth Brazil / Núcleo Amigos da Terra supported the mobilization of civil society to resist the Garabi dam.  They worked with local organizations from Argentina and Brazil to alert people to the likely impacts of the project. Key partners included social organizations from the cities of Santa Rosa and Porto Xavier in Brazil, and the Movimiento de Afectados por Represas (Movement of Peoples Affected by Dams), a member of Vía Campesina in Brazil. They held meetings to strengthen coordination among trade unions, social organizations, environmental groups and Members of Parliament.


In 2008, FoE Brazil produced a documentary based on testimonies of people living around the proposed dam site. The video The future of the Uruguay River: Towards democratization of energy was launched during the second Social Forum of Las Misiones in Argentina in March, at a public event attended by 500 people. It has since been screened in schools and at workshops with students and teachers in Argentina and Brazil. Versions were made with Portuguese, Spanish and English subtitles, and copies have been distributed to schools, trade unions and grassroots organizations in both countries.


FoE Brazil also produced a popular education publication, together with the NGO AREDE from Santa Rosa.


lessons learned

Working closely with the Movement of Peoples Affected by Dams was an important learning experience, reinforcing FoE Brazil’s appreciation of how mobilizing with affected communities strengthens campaigns.


It is also important to mention that peasant women active in the rural trade unions since 2007 have started to mobilize against mega dams in coordination with the social and environmental organizations.


what next?

FoE Brazil will continue to engage with social organizations to denounce the social and environmental impacts that would result from the construction of dams in the Uruguay River, and will continue to hold public screenings of the documentary and to distribute copies.


with thanks to our funders: the c.s. mott foundation


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