Brazil’s Lula Hurt and Mad at Environment Minister’s Resignation

Brazil's former minister of Environment, Marina Silva Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, compared this Wednesday, May 14, the decision of his Environment minister to resign to a child telling his parents that he or she is leaving home. Lula said that he received the news with mixed feelings of sadness and happiness.

He guaranteed, however, that Brazil's environmental policy will not change with Marina Silva's departure.

"I wonder," the president noted "whether you ever had a child that one day announces: 'I'm leaving'. You are left with a mix of suffering and happiness because the person when makes his decision thinks he is doing the best for his own life. That's the way I felt."

Lula reminded reporters that his relationship with Marina Silva has lasted more than 30 years, almost as long as his marriage to first lady Marisa Letí­cia. The first couple will soon celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary.

The Brazilian leader called his former minister as the world's most qualified person to deal with environment. And explained why nothing is changing in the environment front: "We devised a magic word, transversality. That means to place all the actors around a table so that the decisions become state and government policies and not a minister's policy."

It's been reported, however, that privately Lula was very angry at the way Marina Silva left her post, according to the president, assuming an air of victim. He complained to close aides that the news was published by the press before he had a chance to read his former minister's resignation letter. Aides called Marina's attitude "outlandish" and "bizarre".

Marina's departure after a six-year stormy term is just the final chapter on a war of attrition that grew fiercer last year when the government accused the Environment ministry of delaying works from Brazil's Growth Acceleration Program by dragging its feet on granting environmental licenses for some projects.

Marina ended up in a public dispute with the presidential chief of staff Dilma Roussef and Lula himself talked about his displeasure when problems with licenses delayed auction for the construction of power plants at Madeira river, an Amazon river tributary.

At the time, Marina talked about the controversy around fish species that could become extinct due to the power plants construction: "I've always been called," she said annoyed, "the minister of the catfish." She then threatened to offer her resignation but ended up staying.

In her resignation letter Marina Silva says that Lula "is witness to the increasing resistances met by our team from important sectors in the government and the society."

Carlos Minc, the current Environment secretary of Rio de Janeiro state, will be the new Environment minister. The former governor of Acre, a state in the Amazon region, was offered the post by Lula but declined the offer.


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