Lula picks Amazon defender for environment minister
Brazilian President-elect Lula da Silva appoints a key champion of the Amazon rainforest as his environment minister.
Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced Thursday his pick for the country's next environment minister: Amazon activist and defense Marina Silva.
Lula's announcement was far from shocking, as the leftist President has since his campaign been stressing that he would prioritize the Earth's lungs, the Amazon rainforest, after the woes it suffered under his conservative predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.
This also signifies that the Lula administration will prioritize cracking down on illegal deforestation in the forest even if it means running afoul of powerful agribusiness interests.
The minister-to-be told the Brazilian network Globo TV shortly after the president-elect's announcement that the ministry she will be heading will change to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
Furthermore, Lula named Sonia Guajajara, an Indigenous woman, as Brazil's first minister of Indigenous peoples, and Carlos Fávaro, a soybean producer, as agriculture minister.
Read next: Bolsonaro supporters clash with police after indigenous chief arrest
The incoming environment minister's upbringing was in the forest she will be defending, having been born in the Amazon and working as a rubber tapper throughout her adolescent years.
She had served as environment minister during the majority of Lula's former tenure as President from 2003 to 2010, overseeing the creation of dozens of conservation areas and a sophisticated strategy against deforestation with major operations against environmental criminals and new satellite surveillance.
Silva's policies garnered her quite a lot of resentment from many key agribusiness players and associated lawmakers.
This would be huge for the environment, especially after Bolsonaro pushed for development in the Amazon and whose environment minister resigned after national police began investigating whether he was aiding the export of illegally cut timber.
He froze the creation of protected areas, weakened environmental agencies, and placed forest management under the control of the agriculture ministry, while also championing agribusiness, which opposes the creation of protected areas such as Indigenous territories and pushes for the legalization of land grabbing.
Under Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon reached a 15-year high in the year ending in July 2021.
Lula's first bid for president against Bolsonaro culminated in a dead end, prompting runoff elections to be held.
In the October 30 runoff election, da Silva defeated Bolsonaro, marking a stunning comeback for the leftist former President and the end of Brazil's most right-wing government in decades.
Bolsonaro's Liberal Party (PL) filed a complaint to challenge the election's outcome, claiming that some of the electronic voting machines were flawed and that those votes should be invalidated, an argument that election officials dismissed.
Election experts and political analysts slammed Bolsonaro's allies' election challenge as weak on the merits, but it could still energize supporters who have been protesting his defeat at the polls.
Meanwhile, a court document revealed that Alexandre de Moraes, the head of Brazil's electoral court, rejected a complaint from Bolsonaro's allies seeking to challenge the presidential election, which the incumbent lost by a narrow margin.
Despite the market favoring Bolsonaro for his businesses-oriented agenda, analysts suggest that the markets had already aligned prices for Lula's victory.
Meanwhile, the former leftist President, urged "peace and unity" after defeating far-right Bolsonaro, who is yet to concede, but da Silva has concluded a historic political comeback.
The victory represents a stunning turnaround for the leftist icon, who returned for an unprecedented third term at 77 after leaving office in 2010 as the most popular President in Brazilian history.