22 Nov 2010

A Surprise Called Marina Silva

Maria Osmarina Marina Silva Vaz de Lima (her full name sounds weird even in Portuguese!) was born on February 8, 1958 in a small community called Breu Velho in Seringal Bagaço in the State of Acre. Her parents had 11 children, of whom three died. Her mother died when she was 15. Life was difficult on the plantation. "I always woke up at 4am, cut some sticks, lit the fire, made coffee and a banana salad with egg. That was our breakfast," she says.

Her dream was to become a nun. "My grandmother said, 'My daughter, a nun can not be illiterate,'" she recalls. The desire to learn to read then began to accompany her.

At 16, she contracted hepatitis, the first of three. Her health history also includes five malaria and leishmaniasis. These weaknesses led her to the Rio Branco, capital of Acre, in search of medical treatment. Also took the opportunity to devote herself to religious life and at the same time, to study. During this time, obtained permission from her father and left the forest.

In Rio Branco (White River), to sustain herself, she worked as a maid. The progress of the studies were rapid. The period of when she learned to read and write, until her graduation in History took just ten years. Later, Marina completed postgraduate in Educational Psychology.

Member of the PT (Workers Party), Marina played his first public office in 1986, in the House of Representatives. She was among the five ones who had most of votes, but the party did not reach the electoral quotient minimum required by the Brazilian law. The electoral successes of Marina began two years later, to be elected Deputy Mayor. She received the most votes from Rio Branco.

One of its earliest manifestations was voting against the cash bonus, housing allowance and other perks that the other council members received without question.
With acts like this, drew the ire of political opponents at the same time as she received a popular recognition that was manifested in the next election in 1990, when Marina became state representative, again with a record vote.

In 1994, aged 36, arrived in Brasilia as the youngest Senator in the history of the Republic. She was reelected in 2002, with almost three times higher votes than the previous election.
In the Senate, was the first voice to advocate for the importance of taking the government targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. In 2009, the “Planalto” (Plateu, as the Congress is known in Brazil) had finally announced the adoption of these goals. It also urged the Federal Executive and Congress to include the Brazilian goal, with the percentages for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020, the National Plan on Climate Change, which was approved and sanctioned by the President prior to the Conference Climate Change (COP15) in December in Copenhagen.

In the government of President Lula, Marina sought to change the environmental issue in government policy, which would break the traditional isolation of the area. Also based on this guidance, the ministry, through IBAMA ("Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis"), had priority before the bidding for oil blocks.

On 13 May, 2008, resigned from the Ministry. In a letter to the President Lula, she said was leaving office because of the difficulties she faced in the government. "This difficult decision, Mr. President, due to the difficulties I have faced for some time to continue the federal environmental agenda," said Marina, who returned to the Senate.

On 6th August 2009 left the PT (“Partido dos Trabalhadores” - Workers Party). In a statement to the party, expressed her disagreement with a "conception of development focused on material growth at any cost, with gains for the few and exacerbated perverse outcomes for most, the cost, especially for the poor, destruction of natural resources and quality of life."
Eleven days later she announced his affiliation to PV (“Partido Verde” - Green Party).

The list of awards and recognitions national and international show international recognition achieved by the Senator. In addition to being listed in the newspaper "The Guardian", won the "2007 Champions of the Earth," the UN's top award in the environmental area. In October 2008, received from the hands of Prince Philip of England, in the palace of St. James in London, the Duke of Edinburgh medal, in recognition for her career and struggle to preserve the Brazilian Amazon - the most important prize awarded by WWF. In 2009, was awarded with the Sophie Prize, from the Sophie Foundation, that is awarded to individuals and organisations who excel in the areas of environmental and sustainable development in Oslo, Norway.

Also in 2009, received from the Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco the Prize on Climate Change (Climate Change Award) in recognition of her contribution to projects in the area of environment, actions and initiatives undertaken from the perspective of sustainable development.

In 2010, while running for Brazil’s Presidency, surprised not only Brazilians as whole but the entire world by achieving an expressive 3rd place, with a total of 19.636.359 votes (19,33%).

So far, she doesn’t speak about running for any other office in a near future, but for sure she will, since Marina is a real politician who gave hopes for millions of Brazilians tired of the same parties and same speeches.
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