INSIGHT-An environmentalist's calculated push toward Brazil's presidency

miércoles 1 de octubre de 2014 07:00 GYT

By Paulo Prada

RIO DE JANEIRO Oct 1 (Reuters) - In March 2003, three months into her tenure as Brazil's environment minister, Marina Silva gathered a half-dozen aides at the modernist ministry building in Brasilia, the capital.

She told them the new government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was about to embark on a pharaonic infrastructure project for Brazil's arid Northeast.

The project, a still-ongoing effort to reroute water from one of Brazil's biggest rivers, had previously been opposed by environmentalists, including Silva herself.

Rather than explain how she would thwart the plan, however, the former activist said she would work to make it as sustainable as possible.

"I was shocked," says Marijane Lisboa, a former Greenpeace director and Silva's secretary of environmental quality then. "Instead of fighting, she was merely trying to mitigate."

Lisboa would not be the last person surprised by Silva, a former rubber tapper and maid and now a frontrunner in Brazil's presidential election race.

Once considered a leftist radical, the pioneer of Amazon conservation and icon of the global environmental movement has over the years marched steadily to the political center.

A 56-year-old-mother of four and evangelical Christian, Silva barely trails President Dilma Rousseff in forecasts for an expected runoff three weeks after a first round of voting on Sunday.   Continuación...