Opposition to the proposed privatisation of Brazil’s largest generating company has taken a novel turn with a para- military-style police force performing protective manoeuvres around Furnas dams in the Minas Gerais state. The stunt was ordered by the state governor Itamar Franco, who says that if it fails he will sabotage the dams or divert their water supplies.

Franco is successfully leading a campaign against the privatisation of the state’s giant energy company Cemig. The previous state administration sold off a 33% strategic stake in Cemig to US energy com-pany AES in 1997. The deal gave AES the power of veto over investment projects worth over US$1M. In September, a state inquiry found that the deal was unsound and recommended legal action to cancel it.

The Brazilian federal government says that legal obstacles will delay the sale of Furnas until next year.