Marina Silva to make the 2010 electoral dispute greener

The news that former Environment Minister Marina Silva has left the ruling party PT (Workers Party) yesterday have created great excitement in the national media. Marina is considering joining the Green Party to run for president.

Her candidacy would mean at least a new and quite exciting element in the electoral dispute, set to be a repetition of previous year’s clash between the neoliberal PSDB and president Lula’s focus on economic development (at any cost, for some) with wealth distribution.

PT will most probably choose Lula’s chief of staff Dilma Rousseff, the woman behind the ambitious $240 billion dollar Acceleration Programme for the Country’s Growth (PAC in Portuguese), which aims to improve roads and railways and develop the energy provision nationwide. 

Marina is a new face in the national scenario, and a very interesting face too. Traditionally linked to the fight for the preservation of the Amazon, she carries the legacy of important environment leaders such as Chico Mendes, an internationally-renowed activist who was murdered in 1988.

In May 2008, she left her post as Lula’s Environment Minister alleging difficulties in pursuing an environmental agenda. Marina strongly opposed some  infrastructure projects included in the PAC such as hydroelectric dams in the river Madeira, in the Amazon.  

In the letter announcing that she was leaving the party she helped found on Wednesday, Marina lamented the fact that "environmental concerns had not been able to take root at the heart of the government". She also said her aim was to challenge ideas of "development based on material growth at any cost, with huge gains for a few and perverse results for the majority" that could lead to the destruction of the natural resources.

Even if Marina Silva does not turn out to be a front runner, she is certain to bring the protection of the Amazon to the centre of the 2010 presidential debate. That’s extremely important in times when the world is debating the new climate change agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol post-2012.

More than that, Marina has always been a favourite of the international media, and will surely channel the attention of international eyes to the dispute.

One thing is sure. With Marina Silva in the race, the other parties and candidates will definitely be forced to take stronger stances on the environment. The entire world will be watching.