BRAZIL POLITICS: Marina Silva Biography

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By Politicoscope June 26, 2017 14:04

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BRAZIL POLITICS: Marina Silva Biography

Marina Silva was one of eleven children in a family of rubber tappers on a plantation in Brazil’s northeastern state of Acre. She suffered multiple bouts of malaria, hepatitis, and metal poisoning throughout her childhood. At the age of 16, illness brought her to the city. Although she had been illiterate, she soon earned a university degree. She went on to found the independent trade union movement with rubber tapper leader Chico Mendes in the state of Acre.

In the early 1980’s, Silva became, with Mendes, one of the architects of the empates – peaceful demonstrations by forest-dwelling rubber tappers against wanton deforestation and the expulsion of forest communities from their traditional holdings. During this time Acre was experiencing a dramatic increase in deforestation as well as the invasion of indigenous lands and areas occupied by rubber tappers.

The major mobilizing tactic of the rubber tapping unions, the empates became famous as an example of grassroots resistance to wholesale environmental destruction. Silva led and participated in dozens of these demonstrations which resulted in the protection of both thousands of hectares of tropical forest and the livelihoods of hundreds of rubber tapping families. This movement also led to the idea of establishing sustainable extractive reserves in the rainforest. Undaunted by Mendes’ assassination in 1988, Silva continued to push for their creation.

Marina Silva Full Biography
Marina Silva was born 8 February 1958, was Minister of Environment of Brazil from 2003 to 2008. She has been a member Brazil’s National Assembly since 1994.

Silva grew up as one of twelve siblings in a poor rubber tapper family in the province of Acre, in Western Brazil.

When Marina was 16 years old, she contracted Hepatitis and was sent to Rio Branco for treatment. She was illiterate, but with a dream of studying and becoming a nun.

She worked as a maid, learned to read, was enrolled at a public school, stood for exams and started history studies. Along the way she was inspired by liberation theology and the ideas of the environmental activist Chico Mendes.

Marina Silva became politically active, and an ardent proponent of negotiation, non-violence, and innovative solutions. She saw many of her fellow activists murdered.

In 1994, Silva was the first rubber tapper ever elected to Brazil’s Federal Senate. As a native Amazonian and a Senator, she built support for environmental protection of the reserves as well as for social justice and sustainable development in the Amazon region.

As Minister of Environment, she took drastic measures to protect the Amazon forest, clamping down on illegal activity, and managed to reduce deforestation by almost 60 per cent from 2004 to 2007.

Another result of Silva’s work is the Amazon Fund, established to prevent greenhouse gas emissions through rainforest conservation. The Fund is financed by national and international contributions.

In 2008, Marina Silva resigned as Minister of the Environment, citing “the increasing resistance in central parts of government and the society.”

Silva continues her struggle from her place in the National Assembly and still has great influence on environmental policy in Brazil.

 

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– Marina Silva Biography (UN)


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Politicoscope
By Politicoscope June 26, 2017 14:04
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