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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 04:03 GMT 05:03 UK
Brazil bishop protest wins delay
By Steve Kingstone
BBC News, Cabrobo

Bishop Luiz Flavio Cappio
The bishop has campaigned to save the river for years
A Brazilian bishop who spent 11 days on hunger strike has ended his protest after the government agreed to delay an environmental project.

Bishop Luiz Flavio Cappio, 59, made the decision after talks with a government minister in Cabrobo, north-east Brazil.

The government had planned to divert water from the Sao Francisco river to the north-east's drought-prone regions.

Opponents said the idea would benefit only wealthy landowners.

They also said the $2bn project was too expensive, and would reduce the quantity of hydro-electric energy currently generated by dams on the river.

Meeting

Bishop Cappio announced the end of his hunger strike on the steps of his tiny whitewashed church.

Map of Brazil, showing Sao Francisco River
The decision followed six hours of face-to-face talks with Jacques Wagner, a senior government minister who came here from Brasilia.

A gaunt and weary-looking Bishop Cappio said: "I declare that my fast is suspended in favour of life."

On behalf of Brazil's president, Mr Wagner agreed, as he put it, to extend the dialogue about the controversial river project which led to this hunger strike.

There will now be a nationwide debate about the merits of the project, and the bishop has been invited to Brasilia to meet President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

What the bishop did not get here was the outright cancellation of the project that he had initially demanded.

But his local supporters, who include members of a native Indian tribe, are celebrating what they see as a famous victory.



SEE ALSO:
End protest, Brazil bishop urged
03 Oct 05 |  Americas
Brazil bishop makes river protest
29 Sep 05 |  Americas
Battling for Brazil's environment
20 Aug 03 |  Americas


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