Don’t Believe the Hype: Marina Silva is no Environmentalist
During the 1970s and 1980s a group of loggers and cattle ranchers moved in to Acre State, in the Brazilian Amazon and started ripping down the forest. They showed no respect to the thousands of people who were already living there and making their living off of two environmentally friendly economic activities: rubber tapping and Brazil nut harvesting. Unlike in other states, where the loggers and ranchers won, the rubber tappers led by tappers’ union leader Chico Mendes held a series of protests, blocked off roads and ground deforestation to a halt. Mendes was assassinated by the loggers, but the movement he helped start carried on, led in part by his right-hand woman, Marina Silva. Together, the workers created a coalition called, “the forest people” and took over the state government in 1998, for the PT party. They created huge forest reserves, eliminated middlemen in Brazil nut production, raising forest people’s earnings so they no longer had to move to the cities to survive, and today, 87% of the rainforest is still standing. Presidential candidate Marina Silva came out of this movement, which is why she is mistakingly labeled as an environmentalist today, for example, in a recent Guardian article. What most people in the English language press don`t know is that she turned her back on the Forest People coalition years ago and is widely viewed as a traitor to the environmentalist cause in her home state, where she was only the third-highest voted candidate in the last presidential elections. As Lula`s environmental minister, she oversaw the legalisation of GMOs in Brazil. In the last presidential elections, she positioned herself as business friendly, “green capitalist”. Her candidacy is currently supported by the same ranching, agribusiness and logging elites who she used to fight in the 1980s. When she was asked about why all the elites support her in the last debates, she said, “there is nothing wrong with elites, Chico Mendes was an elite”. As any serious environmentalist could tell you, this was a lie. He was a poor rubber tapper. The “green capitalist” platform she adapted is the same that was unanimously rejected by the social and environmentalist movements during Rio+20 two years ago. To add to that, she is a member of the ultra-conservative Assembly of God church and bases all of her important decisions on opening up random parts of her bible beforehand and reading them for guidance.