By Alba Santandreu I

Sao Paulo, (EFE).- Marina Silva was Brazil’s Environment Minister, three-time presidential candidate and a symbol of Amazon conservation. He now aspires to a place 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 with Bolivia and Peru, Silva’s life is directly linked to the Amazon: she spent a childhood among the cultures of rubber trees and c was there, in the largest rainforest on the planet. , where she began her political struggle at the hands of environmentalist leader Chico Mendes, who was assassinated in 1988.

More than three decades after Mendes’ death, the founder of the Red Sustentabilidade party is “frightened” by the growing violence against forest sentinels.

An example is the recent murder of indigenous activist Bruno Araújo and British journalist Dom Phillips, contributor to The Guardian, at the hands of poachers in one of the most remote regions of the Amazon.

“The continuity of this violence is something frightening. People say we’re going through a setback, but in Bolsonaro’s case it’s not a setback, it’s a regression. This regression is costly, not only for environmental protection, for environmental activists, but for society as a whole, including for agribusiness itself,” he said.

Lula Y Silva: an “act of self-defense” against Bolsonaro

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

Despite his high-pitched voice, the environmentalist – with his hair pulled back, thick eyebrows, ethnic necklace, glasses and light suit – always maintains a firm and serene tone, especially when it comes to Bolsonaro.

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

It was this threat, he said, that led him to political reconciliation after more than a decade with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the favorite for the October elections with 47% support. voting intentions, against 31% for Bolsonaro.

Silva, dubbed an “eco-capitalist” for her attempt to combine planetary defense with economic development, quit the Lula government in 2008 over differences over environmental policy and left the ranks of the Workers’ Party. (PT) which he helped found.

“The (reconciliation) movement was an act of self-defense that had to be done for democracy, the protection of the environment, of indigenous peoples, of the Amazon, of human rights, and to combat the immense injustices that we are going through,” said.

The former minister’s backing of Lula’s candidacy is seen as an important step in winning the backing of evangelicals, who are overwhelmingly in favor of Bolsonaro, who presents himself as the guardian of family, God and country.

Profundamente religiosa, Silva llegó a preparase para ser monja, pero en la década de los 90 comenzó a profesar la religión evangelica coincidiendo con el empeoramiento de su salud, debilitada por un histórico de malarias, hepatitis y envenenamiento por mercury, relacionado con vertidos ilegales en The 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. None of this has nothing to do with Christianity,” stresses Silva, who always carries a Bible and frequently uses its verses in his speeches.

Will I come back in a possible Lula government?

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

Despite the political rapprochement with the leader of the PT, the parliamentary candidate avoids answering whether she would accept the Ministry of the Environment again in a possible Lula government, but leaves the door open to a possible invitation if the results of the ballot boxes materialize. .

“Brazil is not in a position to resist another four years of Bolsonaro (…) The government (of Lula) will not be just a party or a group of parties, it will be the government of people who want to help rebuild the country,” he said.

When asked if that would mean a yes, the environmentalist said: “The important thing is that we have already taken a very important step, regardless of who the minister is. I presented a set of (environmental) proposals to Lula and he publicly committed to them”.

Web edition: JuanK Ochoa

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