Angry mob in Brasilia is linked to crimes in the Amazon, says Marina Silva


For the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva (Rede), the coup vandalism last Sunday (8) in Brasília is directly linked to the four years of increase in deforestation and leniency with environmental crimes.

So far, investigations into the Bolsonarist demonstration have already identified links, in terms of financing or logistics, with sectors of agribusiness opposed to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT).

“Part of this angry mob comes from practices in sectors linked to deforestation, land grabbing, timber trafficking, illegal fishing, illegal mining,” says Marina to Sheet.

Back in office after almost 15 years, she advocates resuming environmental protection policies, making them more solid and managing to build, despite these conservative sectors, a transversal action to at least try to comply with the Paris Agreement. “There will be constancy [nas políticas]”, define.

For her, incentives, through tax reform, can convince rural producers to comply with the legislation, which did not happen in the last administration. “You invest everything to get your property certified, then a government comes in that wipes it all out and you’ll have to compete with illegals. It looks like you’re the court jester,” she says.

Is there a relationship between the organizers of last Sunday’s coup acts and the agents of environmental crimes linked to agribusiness in the Amazon? When he signed the decree of federal intervention in the security of the Federal District, President Lula very correctly made a correlation between what was happening in Brasilia and the illegal practices in the Amazon.

A good part of this are those who are being investigated, who are strategists, financiers, stimulators, articulators of this political barbarity at various levels. But a good part was an angry mob of those who, during the Bolsonaro government, went from the expectation of impunity that every criminal has to the certainty of impunity.

Part of this enraged mob comes from practices in sectors linked to deforestation, land grabbing, timber trafficking, illegal fishing, illegal mining. Obviously, the care we have to take is not to make generalizations.

Is environmental inspection likely to encounter more resistance than expected? It hasn’t changed the perception. We were sure here of what we diagnosed and what we projected as a necessary action.

The elements we had during the transition were already strong enough for us to know the size of the problem that exists. We didn’t go in blindly, but being inside, the reality is incomparably worse.

So, you have to run to not let the helicopter contract expire, a lot of things, because you have what was destroyed and you have what was set up to continue not working.

To what extent is it possible to dialogue with agribusiness, considering that there are sectors of it that defend anti-environmental proposals? Dialogue is the possibility of convincing and being convinced. It does not presuppose an imposition of what cannot be accepted from the legal point of view and civilized political relations.

The gym, for example, has a moment when it won’t give up. She says: this is science. Have to reduce emissions to balance by 1.5°C [como teto do aquecimento global] and it’s no use wanting to convince the opposite, that 2°C is possible. Dialogue is precisely respect for the principle of reality. There is a moment when reality imposes itself.

Today we have an agro sector that is incomparably more resistant, but we have the experience already applied in public policies.

What is new is that today we also have a relevant agricultural sector committed to the sustainability agenda, which is also incomparably larger and more active than what we had 20 years ago. So we have a good basis for working across the path of this transition to low-carbon agriculture.

In this transversality, you will need to dialogue with the agro, but also with ministers who until recently were governors in places with a high rate of deforestation and with lenient public policies… It was the president himself who gave the term of reference for us, for the government as a whole, on the issue of deforestation. President Lula is leading the agenda.

I called Carlos Favaro [ministro da Agricultura] and we are already working on a cooperation agreement to materialize the issue of the environmental and development agenda in the agricultural sector. Because Brazil cannot pay the price of criminals. We are looking for all possible synergies, including with the productive sector.

Will Brazil be able to avoid the point of no return in Amazon deforestation? We are already around 19% to 20% of the Amazon destroyed, already very close to the point of no return, which is to exceed 20% to 25% of destruction. And that’s a margin you can’t risk. It has to stop.

The commitment assumed by Brazil is zero deforestation by 2030. We are running after meeting this goal, having a real abyss of environmental policy for four years, right?

It’s a huge challenge, it’s not magic. But we are not going to lower the target due to the abyss, we are going to keep it. If we achieve it, it will be a huge achievement. Otherwise, we want to be very close to her.

There is no room for the illegal, which is not correct, but zero deforestation is also convincing. It is necessary to convince the landowner that preserving the forest area is more profitable, more strategic, than using it to raise cattle or plant crops, even if within the law.

How to make this convincing? There are a lot of people who want a path: there will be technical support, there will be some kind of incentive, there will be consistency. Because, in this seasonality, we walked for ten years and look what happened? We went back to zero.

So you invest everything to get your property certified, then a government comes in that destroys everything and you will have to compete with illegals. Looks like you’re the court jester.

Incentives are needed, we are going to have a tax reform and our dear Fernando Haddad [ministro da Fazenda] has a fantastic understanding.

At the same time, Mato Grosso is already experiencing a 27-day rain delay. These are huge losses from the point of view of the off-season, they are losses of billions for the agro.

If it goes into a point of no return, it means completely changing the rainfall regime, so it doesn’t pay to use what I could use [de um terreno] at the cost of ending rain on my entire property. So there is a complex process, but there is already a great deal of understanding.

Regarding power generation, what is your assessment of oil exploration in Foz do Amazonas and the construction of hydroelectric plants in the Amazon? Regarding the hydroelectric plant, President Lula himself answered: today we have the capacity to respond to the highly efficient electricity sector. Solar and wind energy already cost less than hydroelectric power—a financial cost, as well as a social and environmental one. And we have an energy that can generate more energy, which is green hydrogen, which the world can buy.

About Petrobras, there is a discussion of moving towards not just being an oil exploration company, but an energy company, because that way it is already making its own transition.

Will the R$3.3 billion currently in the Amazon Fund be enough to supplement the ministry’s budget, reduced by Bolsonaro? We have to think about this emergency use of the Amazon Fund and the way it was conceived. It wasn’t to take the money for the actions that are the obligation of the State, right? The Fund has to do with research, with support for community projects, for companies.

Now, it will have to be used very heavily and on an emergency basis because of this environmental blackout. The need to capture these resources today is enormous.

I got a call from John Kerry [enviado especial do clima dos Estados Unidos] and we are looking at his possible arrival here in Brazil. I insist a lot on these conversations, because one of the ways to help us with financial resources are these partnerships, cooperation agreements. And the Amazon Fund is the priority.

But the strategic objective is that the fund can be expanded and used again for the bioeconomy, for the transition in the area of ​​agriculture, for example, from small farmers to sustainable development actions.

Why was there a delay in your nomination and the announcement of your team names? The order of who came first is not the issue, the issue is the priority the president is giving the agenda.

In the choice of secretaries, the delay is because people have their own lives. Interims were appointed because I can’t stop [nesta quinta, 12, foram nomeados interinos para Ibama e ICMBio]. Soon you will have the president of Ibama named, cute. We already have names decided, just not announced.


Marina Silva, 64

He was born in Seringal Bagaço, in Rio Branco (AC). Graduated in history from the Federal University of Acre, she was a union leader alongside environmentalist and rubber tapper Chico Mendes. Current Minister of the Environment, a position she had already held between 2003 and 2008, she was a senator from 1995 to 2011 and ran for the Presidency of the Republic in three campaigns (2010, 2014 and 2018). In the last election, she was elected federal deputy by Rede-SP, a party she founded in 2013.

The Planeta em Transe project is supported by the Open Society Foundations.

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