Monday, April 03, 2006

Belo Horizonte, Brazil - Hundreds of protesters, armed with handguns, gasoline bombs, sticks and stones, laid waste to the lobby of the headquarters of the Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais (CEMIG) electric company and injured several police officers during a demonstration against the Inter-American Development Bank. Police fired rubber bullets, sprayed tear gas and set off concussion grenades injuring as many as 17 people.

The bank, which is currently holding its annual meeting, is owed $1.6 billion by Brazil and also keeps the countries of Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Bolivia, and Nicaragua under crippling amounts of debt. The bank is able to force the countries' governments to impose financing infrastructure projects, which often include privatizing basic services, natural resources, and building large dams which negatively affect the environment. Many of the demonstrators represent the Movement of Dam-Affected People or the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST).