2022 Race

Former Environment Minister Marina Silva buries hatchet and endorses Lula

marina silva lula
Marina Silva and Lula. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert/IL

During an event open to the press on Monday morning, former Environment Minister and three-time presidential candidate Marina Silva announced her support for election frontrunner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, claiming that the country is at a crossroads between “democracy and barbarism,” alluding to the re-election push of current President Jair Bolsonaro.

“I believe that at this crucial moment in our history, [Lula’s] candidacy has the capability to defeat [Mr.] Bolsonaro and the malevolent seed of Bolsonarism,” she said.

Lula and Ms. Silva reunited on Sunday, during a two-hour meeting in São Paulo. The pair reportedly discussed “proposals for a more sustainable Brazil.”

Ms. Silva served as Environment Minister in Lula’s cabinet between 2003 and 2008, during which time she oversaw a 74.8-percent decrease in deforestation.

She abandoned the government and Lula’s Workers’ Party in 2009, complaining that the administration had caved to pressure from governors in the Amazon region and weakened its punishment for illegal deforestation. In a 2019 interview to The Brazilian Report, she said she “wasn’t going to hang around as a piece of decoration, so [she] left.”

Marina Silva has made three runs at the presidency herself, coming closest to victory in 2014 when she stepped into the race after third-placed candidate Eduardo Campos died in an air tragedy. After an initial spurt in the polls, she became the target of an electoral smear campaign from her former Workers’ Party, in a strategy crafted by marketeer João Santana.

Earlier this year, third-placed candidate Ciro Gomes sought to woo Ms. Silva to his campaign, but she declined his invitation due to João Santana’s leading role in his candidacy.