If you thought the U.S. election was interesting, take a look at Brazil.
“With the opportunity to try to construct this new future for Brazil and for the planet, I prefer to put my hopes in this movement.”
The Green Party of Brazil has a new voice, Senator Marina Silva. Female, black, born in the heart of the Amazon, and analphabetic until the age of 16, Marina is the heir of Chico Mendes in the struggle to preserve the forest.
Marina has left the Worker’s Party after 30 years and joined the Green Party last August to pursue a more sustainable economic development strategy.
“Ms. Silva resigned as environmental minister in 2008, after expressing concerns that the government might give in to pressure from business interests to ease off emergency measures she put in place to counteract a jump in Amazon deforestation. She returned to the national Senate, where she continued to press her environmental agenda”. The New York Times
Marina is standing as a candidate for the presidency of Brazil in the 2010 elections. This has already unleashed a movement, called the ‘Marina effect’ by the media, which has led the government and opposition to rush to propose green public policies and intensified the struggle for leadership in sustainable development.
Of course, because she is a black woman and very charismatic, the comparisons with Barack Obama have not taken long to arise. The obvious joke is that, while Democrats in the US had to select between an African American and a woman, Brazilians can get both in Ms. Silva.
In a presidential election which was restricted to the current government and opposition, both would compete to lead the race backwards. In this context, Marina brings new and important questions to the presidential election process, giving voice to social and environmental movements who believe in a Brazil which is socially just, economically prosperous, culturally diverse and politically democratic.
The ‘Marina factor’ is already reflected in the polling for the presidential race in Brazil. Even without the same space in the media as the Lula government and Governor Jose Serra, Marina is attracting 9.5% of the vote eight months before the election which will be held in October.
In the light of the new political landscape which the Green Party and Marina Silva are building in Brazil, we have to recognize that the green movement is becoming a strong new force, not only in Brazil but in Latin America generally.