Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Marina Silva

Marina Silva, a longtime darling of the international environmental community, resigned yesterday in protest of Brazil's development policies.

[UPDATE 15 May 2008: More analysis from the Independent and from the BBC.]

Brazil's Environment Minister Marina Silva Resigns
Go to Original

By Adriana Brasileiro and Heloiza Canassa

May 13 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil's Environment Minister Marina Silva quit today after five years in office, citing difficulties in implementing a nationwide environmental agenda.

``During my trajectory, Your Excellency was a witness of the growing resistance found by our team in important sectors of the government and society,'' Silva wrote in a letter to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva today. A copy of the letter was e-mailed by Environment Ministry spokeswoman Gerusa Barbosa.

Silva, 50, a former rubber tapper, strengthened laws for logging and farming in the Amazon. She also made it harder for companies to obtain licenses for port, energy and transportation projects.

``She was the environment's guardian angel,'' said Frank Guggenheim, executive director for Greenpeace in Brazil. ``Now Brazil's environment is orphaned.''

Silva gave up after being forced to share some of her responsibilities for drafting policies for the sustainable development of the Amazon region, Guggenheim said.

Strategic Matters Minister Roberto Mangabeira Unger this year designed a plan for sustainable development in the Amazon and last week presented the plan to Lula and his ministers.

Lula last year also removed the responsibilities for environmental licensing from Brazil's Environmental Agency Ibama, weakening Silva's power over concessions for infrastructure projects.

Silva's Efforts

Ibama's president, Bazileu Alves Margarido Neto, also tendered his resignation today following Silva's decision, a spokeswoman with the agency said.

Carlos Minc, Rio de Janeiro state's secretary for the Environment and a Green Party founder, will replace Silva, Folha de S. Paulo's online edition reported today. Rio de Janeiro's state Secretariat didn't return messages seeking confirmation. Barbosa at the Environment Minister declined to comment.

Silva was born in the state of Acre, in the western part of Brazil's Amazon region, and worked extracting rubber from trees in the forests. She met Amazon activist Chico Mendes, and joined his efforts to organize peaceful demonstrations against deforestation. Mendes was assassinated in 1988.

She was elected to Brazil's Senate in 1994 and was appointed Environment Minister in 2003, when Lula won the election for his first four-year term in office.

Environmentalists say her years as ministers were filled with conflicts with government officials and investors, as she set more rigid rules for logging licenses and blocked infrastructure projects that didn't respect legislation.

``She relentlessly stood up to agriculture barons and developers who didn't care what they did to the environment, and she paid a high price for that,'' Guggenheim said.

No comments: