Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva has not yet officially announced his candidacy for the October elections, but he is already preparing his teams and government programs. This is because all the polls, without exception, show him as the winner with a large margin compared to the rest of the candidates. Lula has already affirmed that his new government would not be a repetition of his two previous ones, but something new adjusted to the circumstances that the country is experiencing after the disastrous coup and denialist presidency of Jair Bolsonaro.
The most important issue in the world today is the defense of the environment, whose destruction could be one of the causes of the covid pandemic that is costing millions of deaths. Lula, however, has not yet forcefully addressed in his speeches and interviews the crucial issue of the destruction of the Amazon, the lung of humanity, which offers the greatest diversity of species and drinking water in the world.
The Amazon has suffered with this government the greatest devastation of the last 15 years and this will continue if Bolsonaro is re-elected. Hence the importance that the candidates for the head of state open their letters to say what they plan to do with the Amazon and the defense of the environment.
Lula, who according to the newspaper New York Times, “he is already elected”, had many social and political achievements in his two previous governments. He ended the hunger of millions of people, maintained a foreign policy that gave prestige to the country and defended and strengthened democratic institutions. There was, however, in his governments – and in those of his successor Dilma Rousseff – a vacuum regarding the defense of the environment and the territory of the Amazon that covers a dimension almost like all of Europe.
In his first government, Lula surprised positively by appointing the internationally known environmentalist, Marina Silva, as Minister of the Environment for her commitment to defending the Amazon, where she was born and raised. However, Silva ended up leaving the Government for not sharing his environmental policy, since the destruction of the Amazon increased every year. Lula even made jokes on the subject when he said that environmentalists “when they find a rare toad” are capable of stopping a work already under construction.
Today, if Lula comes to power again, he will have to review the environmental policy of his past administrations, and he will have to start affirming it now. If you want to defeat Bolsonaro, you must take into account that one of the major failures of this fascist government was that it destroyed the Amazon in grand style. In just three years of government, more jungle has been razed than in the last 15 years. Between August 2020 and July 2021 alone, 13,235 square kilometers were devastated.
The environmental policy of the future government may not say much to the 15 million Brazilians who are hungry today or to the millions without work, and yet such defense of the environment has an echo on a planetary level and a future Lula government would this time be judged with severity inside and outside the country if he did not make the issue a priority for his new leadership.
According to the Brazilian press, Lula, who has already stated that in order to defeat Bolsonaro, he wants to present a government that, rather than being only left-wing, is a movement that encompasses the center and even forces of the right, he is making efforts so that the environmentalist Marina Silva returns to be part of his government. It would be a good sign that would indicate that he has understood that in his possible new team the Ministry of the Environment will have a greater weight than in past years.
In her first year as Lula’s minister, Marina Silva, who was a Catholic and today is an independent evangelist, in an interview for this newspaper at her home in Brasilia, spoke to me passionately about what it means to defend nature and the little appreciation that politicians generally show about it. He told me that these politicians only want immediate results while the achievements in defense of the environment have to be seen in the long term with our children and grandchildren in mind.
Knowing the Holy Scriptures, the then minister gave me the example of the patriarch Abraham who, at the age of 90, had planted a tree. To those who criticized him that he would no longer see it grow, the patriarch replied that he had not planted it for himself but so that future generations could enjoy it.
Has Lula read the Bible?
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.