Wed. Sep 28th, 2022

By Alba Santandreu I

São Paulo, (EFE).- Marina Silva was Brazil’s environment minister, three-time presidential candidate and symbol of Amazon conservation. Now he is seeking a seat in Congress to fight the legacy of President Jair Bolsonaro, whom he accuses of turning his country into an “environmental pariah.”

Born in Breu Velho, a village in the state of Acre on the border of Bolivia and Peru, Silva’s life is directly linked to the Amazon: he spent a childhood among rubber crops, and it was in the largest tropical forest on the planet. , where he began his political struggle at the hands of the slain environmentalist leader Chico Mendes in 1988.

More than three decades after Mendes’ death, the founder of the Red Sustainable Party is “horrified” by the growing violence against forest sentinels.

An example of this was the killing of indigenous activist Bruno Araujo and British journalist Dom Phillips, a contributor to The Guardian, by poachers in the most remote regions of the Amazon.

“The continuation of that violence is something frightening. People say we’re experiencing a shock, but in Bolsonaro’s case it’s not a shock, it’s a regression. This retreat is very costly, not only for protecting the environment, for environmental activists, but for the entire society, including agribusiness,” he emphasized.

Lula y Silva: an “act of legitimate defense” against Bolsonaro

Former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva speaks during an interview with IF in Sao Paulo, Brazil. EFE/Fernando Bijera

Despite his loud voice, the environmentalist – with his hair pulled back, thick eyebrows, an ethnic necklace, glasses and a light knit suit – always maintains a firm and serene tone, especially when referring to Bolsonaro.

He does not hesitate to accuse the far-right leader’s government of “breaking” Brazil’s socio-economic-environmental policy and “endangering the country’s democracy”.

He asserted that it was this threat that led him to reunite politically more than a decade later with former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is the favorite for October’s election with 47% of the vote compared to 31% for Bolsonaro.

Silva, who was nicknamed the “eco-capitalist” for his efforts to combine planetary defense with economic development, left Lula’s government in 2008 over differences over environmental policy and left the Workers’ Party. (PT) that he helped find.

“The (reunification) movement was an act of self-defense that needed to be done for democracy, the environment, indigenous peoples, the Amazon, the protection of human rights and to fight against the huge injustices we are facing”.

The former minister’s support for Lula’s candidacy is seen as an important step in gaining support among evangelicals, mostly favorable to Bolsonaro, who presents himself as the guardian of family, God and country.

Deeply religious, Silva even prepared to become a monk, but in the 1990s he began to preach evangelicalism, coinciding with the deterioration of his health, weakened by a history of malaria, hepatitis and mercury poisoning, related to illegal dumping in rivers.

“Many people are uncomfortable with the use of God’s name in vain, the way Bolsonaro preaches against the Christian faith, using faith to spread hatred, violence. It has nothing to do with Christianity,” underlines Silva, who always carries a Bible and often uses its verses in his speeches.

Will I go back to Lula’s government?

Former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva speaks during an interview with IF in Sao Paulo, Brazil. EFE/Fernando Bijera

Despite his political ties to the PT leader, the deputy candidate avoided answering whether he would take over the environment ministry again in a possible Lula government, but left the door open to a possible invitation once the election results are in. .

“Brazil is not in a position to endure four more years of Bolsonaro (…) The (Lular) government (Lular) will not be just a party or a group of parties, it will be a government of people who want to help rebuild the country. “He declared.

Asked if that would mean yes, the environmentalist insisted: “The important thing is that we have already taken an important step, whoever the minister is. I presented a set of (environmental) proposals to Lula and he publicly committed to them.

Web version: Juanque Ochoa

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