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Brazil tries to defuse mounting conflicts over Amazon dams

Lunae Parracho / Reuters

Munduruku Indians line up to board a Brazilian Air Force plane to fly to Brasilia for talks with the government, in Altamira on June 4, 2013.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

The Belo Monte dam is among 60 Brazil plans to build in its Amazon region to help power its growing economy. But the vision also has its critics.

Brazil's government sought on Tuesday to defuse mounting conflicts with indigenous groups over its plans to build more hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.

The Brazilian air force flew 144 Munduruku Indians to the capital for talks to end a week-long occupation of the controversial Belo Monte dam, a huge project on the Xingu River aimed at feeding the country's fast-growing demand for electricity. The tribespeople live along the Tapajos, the only major river in the Amazon basin with no dams. They want the government to shelve plans to build a dozen dams there.

"We went to see for ourselves what a hydroelectric dam is and we saw that it has nothing good in store for us," a Munduruku leader told government minister Gilberto Carvalho, adding that promised development had not benefited the Indians of the Xingu. "We saw Indians being humiliated and we do not want that for our region."

Lunae Parracho / Reuters

Munduruku Indians, many flying for the first time, ride in a Brazilian Air Force plane as they are transported to Brasilia for talks with the government, June 4, 2013.

Eraldo Peres / AP

A member of the Munduruku tribe films during a meeting with the government at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, June 4, 2013.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Gilberto Carvalho, Minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of Brazil, speaks to Munduruku Indians during a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, June 4, 2013.