Note from BW of Brazil: Needless to say, the topic of today’s post is a long-time coming. Of course Marina Silva has been in the political arena for a number of years and surprised everyone with her strong showing in 2010 election that was eventually won by Dilma Rouseff, Brazil’s current president. Silva has shaken up the world again rising to the occasion after the shocking news of the death of a top runner for the presidency in 2014. Now, with the election a month away, reports are showing that poor woman from a rubber tapper town has a strong possibility of becoming the nation’s first black president and the second consecutive woman to lead the country. But just who is Marina Silva? As the media is literally flooded with material about Silva, the scope of this report is not to discuss everything there is to know about Marina, but rather offer an introduction to the trajectory of a woman who could make history within a few weeks.
Marina Silva: a pioneer in politics
The first black woman candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, Maria Osmarina Silva, known as Marina Silva, comes from an unusual trajectory that began in February 8, 1958, in a place called Breu Velho in the seringais (rubber plantations) of the state of Acre, seventy miles from downtown Rio Branco, the capital of Acre. She remained there until at age 16, still illiterate, to earning international recognition in defense of the environment, becoming minister and postulated becoming president of Brazil.
Her parents Pedro Augusto and Maria Augusta had eleven children, of whom only eight survived. She hunted, fished, worked as a maid and became literate only after 16 years of age. She graduated in History from the Federal University of Acre. She is married to Fábio Vaz de Lima and has four children, Shalom, Danilo, Moara and Mayara.
In four years, Marina went from illiteracy to the vestibular (college entrance exam). She graduated with a degree in History and postgraduate in Psychoanalysis.
His family life includes the role of head of household at age 14 and second daughter of the eleven children of Pedro Augusto da Silva, from the state of Ceará; she has been married twice and has four children.
Marina began her political career as an activist in the CEBs (Comunidades Eclesiais de Base or Basic Ecclesial Communities), linked to the Catholic Church (subsequently becoming Evangelic). She spent her years of political life with the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores/Workers Party) for 30 years and the PV, the Partido Verde (Green Party) that embraced her candidacy for president.
She participated in trade union and environmentalist struggles at the side of rubber tapper Chico Mendes and was one of the founders of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT or Central Workers Union) in 1984. Her debut happened at the polls in 1986 and her resume contains the pioneering position of first councilor of the left in Rio Branco, in 1988, she received the most votes for city councilor in Rio Branco, and in 1990 received the most votes for deputado (representative) of Acre.
At the age of 36 years in 1994, she was elected to youngest Senator of the Republic, and reelected in 2001. Much of her second term as senator, however, was fulfilled as head of the Ministry of the Environment, where she remained for five and a half years. In the Senate, she developed projects such as the Law of Access to Biodiversity, which regulates the access of biodiversity resources and knowledge of traditional populations. She was Minister of State for the Environment, under President Lula, from 2003 to May 2008. She has countless titles and honors received in Brazil and abroad. (See more in Marina’s bibliographic data http://marinasilvapresidente.ning.com/)
Marina Silva is a mestiça (person of mixed race) and brings in her blood the three colors/”races” that form the Brazilian people: índios (Indians), brancos (whites) and pretos (blacks). By definition of the IBGE, Marina can be classified as a person of parda (brown) color. The grouping of parda and preta color is defined as the população negra (black population), according to the methodology adopted by most Brazilian researchers. The negro is the sum of people who self-declare themselves “pardas” and “pretas”. So in terms of “race”, the “indiazinha” (little Indian) Marina can be defined as cabocla (of mixed indigenous decent), mulata or negra.
Moreover, as defender of the environment and sustainable development, Marina can be considered a “green” person. As a native of the forest and companion of Chico Mendes’ fight, Marina has a long tradition in defense of the Amazon. The Ministry of Environment opposed the anti-ecological interests of agribusiness sectors, countered the defenders of growth at any cost and fought against deforestation and biodiversity loss. Marina supports the fight against global warming at the local, national and international levels
Just like President Lula, Marina has the surname Silva, belongs to the same social background of the working class and the poor people who live working and toil daily to provide for their sustenance. But Marina is a novelty in Brazil’s presidential elections, especially as a woman, black and green (environmentalist). In this sense, she brings something new to Brazilian politics as Barack Obama was a novelty in the American elections.
In over 500 years, Brazil had never had a female president. In the last twenty years, there were several women vying for the presidential elections: Lívia Maria (PN) obtained 179,896 votes (0.26% of valid votes) in 1989. Theresa Ruiz (PTN) totaled 166,138 votes (0.25%) in 1998. Ana Maria Rangel (PRP) received 126,404 votes (0.13%), and H eloísa Helena (PSOL) reached 6,575,393 votes (6.85% of the valid vote), winning third place in the race, behind only Lula (PT) and Alckmin (PSDB).
2010 proved to be the turning point in gender inequality in politics with the then Minister Dilma Rouseff and Marina being considered serious candidates in the race for the presidency. Rouseff received the full support of then President Lula da Silva (2003-2010), the PT and a broad coalition of forces that support the current Federal Government. Dilma herself said: “I always think that the more women [in politics] the better.”
But the big news was Senator Marina Silva that, confirming her candidacy, brought together in one person the predicates for the defense of women (which are about 52% of the population), blacks, the poor and the whole population interested in environmental protection and sustainable development and the fight against global warming. However, in the area of reproductive rights and the Secular State, the candidate Marina was expected to clarify her proposals.
Certainly Marina Silva, winning the elections, will have great difficulties to govern like Barack Obama is having in the United States and as any president has and will have in Brazil.
In 2007, a nonpartisan citizens’ movement called “Movimento Marina Silva Presidente”, began its public defense of her candidacy for the presidency. The international repercussions of this movement made the European Green Party influence the Green Party of Brazil to invite her to join in their ranks. As such, since August 2009, Marina was contemplated to be a candidate for the presidency from the Partido Verde (PV). On June 11, 2010, she officially announced her candidacy for president at the Green Party convention.
Marina wants to be the first black woman to preside over the country
The green candidate declined criticism of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whom she thanked for letting her be part of the government
By Luciana Lima
Evangelical, Marina made sure to emphasize the defense of the principle of the secular state
Brasília – The PV (Partido Verde, Green Party) candidate of the presidency, Marina Silva, said today (10), in a speech at the party convention, that she wants to be the first black woman coming from poor origin to be elected president of Brazil.
In an emotional speech, Marina remembered her own trajectory itself and advocated for the need for strategic investment in education as a way to distribute income in Brazil. Illiterate until the age of 17, Marina remembered that she came to Rio Branco, capital of Acre, unable to read or write.
“There are still errors to be fixed. I know what it is I see things only half way, I know what it is to hear things half way. I remember how I felt when I arrived in Rio Branco at 16 and standing for about 15 minutes looking at the side to ask where I caught a bus to the Estação Experimental. There was a sign there, but for those who are illiterate, a sign and nothing is the same,” said Marina, in an emotional tone.
“Today I am here, thank God, to those who helped me and to education,” affirmed the candidate. She pointed out that Brazil still has 18% rate of illiteracy among young people and, in addition, 40% of children entering primary school don’t reach the 8th grade.
The candidate of PV became emotional in several times during her speech. When referring to her father, 82 years old, in the audience, Marina thanked him for his support when he let her leave home at age 16 to go to school.
She said she asked her father to let her go to the city because she wanted to study and dreamed of becoming a nun. According to Marina, her father, who worked in the rubber plantations of Acre, replied: “You want to go now or next week, when we sell the rubber for you to take the money?” According to Marina, if her father didn’t have that vision, she would not have made it where she is.
Evangelical, Marina made sure to emphasize in her speech the defense of the principle of the secular state. “This secular country is so that we respect those who have different beliefs than ours and those without belief,” she said.
The Green candidate declined criticism of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who she thanked for letting her be part of the government. When speaking of the achievements of Brazil last year, she emphasized that today the country must not forget the advances, but also need not make an apology, because there is still a ways to go.
Marina praised the policy of poverty reduction of the current government: “We have 25 million people who left the line of poverty. I don’t need to deny it: this is a deed of the unionist. I don’t need to make the pie bigger first to distribute it later. Lula showed that the cake was distributed and we continued to grow.”
On the problems faced by residents of large cities due to floods, Marina classified it as a lack of ethical commitment of the government leaders. “It’s not a natural problem, linked to the environment. This is a lack of strategy, of vision, ethical behavior of the managers.”
In her speech, the PV candidate criticized the revision project of the Código Florestal (Forest Code), under discussion in the Câmara dos Deputados (House of Representatives) and on the report by Deputy (Representative) Aldo Rebelo (PCdoB – Communist Party of Brazil). “People are discussing how to make the Forest Code flexible to forgive 40 million illegally degraded areas,” she said.
In early September, according to research conducted by Datafolha Institute, the candidate had 10% of the vote, against 50% for Dilma Rousseff and José Serra’s 28%, a lower number than the null and blank ballots, which at the time amounted to 11%. A day before the election, the institute predicted 16% of the total votes favorable to Marina, a variation of 6% in less than a month. According to IBOPE, in research from the beginning of September, Marina Silva would receive 8% of the total vote, against 51% in favor of Dilma Rousseff and 27% in favor of José Serra. In research from the eve of the elections, the same institute predicted Marina would receive 16% of the total votes, an increase of 8% in a period of one month. The growth of Marina Silva in the first round of the Brazilian elections in 2010 was coined by the “onda verde” (green wave) by the press.
At the end of the first round of the Presidential elections in 2010, on October 3, Marina Silva received 19,636,359 votes, which accounted for 19.33% of the votes, thus ranking third in the race that went to the second round between Dilma Rousseff and José Serra. The result was greater than that predicted the latest research of voting intention. The Datafolha and IBOPE institutes, for example, calculated 17% of the valid votes for Marina and heralded a Dilma victory in the first runoff.
Presidential election in Brazil in 2014
Officially confirmed as pre-candidate for re-election, Dilma Rousseff had among her main rivals the former governor of (the state of) Pernambuco,
who died in an airplane crash on August 13, 2014, leaving until then left the confirmation of Marina Silva as a candidate, the PSDB Senator from (the state of) Minas Gerais, Aécio Neves as her main adversary.
On October 2013, after the registration of her party had been denied by the TSE, Marina abdicated her candidacy for president, and decided to ally with the PSB and Eduardo Campos. The two signed a programmatic alliance. The pair confirmed their pre-candidacy on a ticket that had Campos as candidate for president and Marina as vice president during an event held in Brasília on April 14, 2014.
Aécio Neves also confirmed his candidacy for the PSDB. The former senator and governor of Minas Gerais only announced the name of his running partner on June 14, during the national convention of the party that made his candidacy official.
After the death of Eduardo Campos, which occurred on August 13, 2014, Eduardo’s brother, Antônio Campos, argued that Marina should head the ticket for the dispute for the presidency.
The President of PSB Roberto Amaral and other officers confirmed on August 16, 2014 that Marina Silva would be kept on the ticket and that she would be a candidate, overcoming all kinds of party differences. Negotiations for Marina’s name were initiated informally after she have given her approval to the party about her possible candidacy and avoided a public statement in respect to grief due to the death of Edward Campos. On August 20, 2014, the PSB, in a meeting at its headquarters in Brasília making the candidacy of Marina Silva and Beto Albuquerque official as the names on the ticket for the presidential race that had the same deadline of August 23, 2014, stipulated under the law due to the death of Eduardo Campos to register a new ticket at the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). The ticket was registered the day before the deadline.
One of her campaign promises was that, if elected, she would only serve a term of four years, because she declared herself against presidential reelection.