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Brazil: Lula appoints Amazon activist in cabinet role

December 29, 2022

President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has appointed ministers to his proposed cabinet, naming a well-known green activist as his environment minister. Lula is set to be sworn in on January 1.

Brazil's President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Environment Minister Marina Silva
Silva and Lula have both vowed to protect the Amazon rainforest Image: Eraldo Peres/AP Photo/picture alliance

Brazil's President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula sa Silva appointed a final set of ministers to his cabinet on Thursday, naming Marina Silva as the next minister of environment.

“After a lot of work, after a lot tension, talk and adjustments, we finished assembling the first echelon of the government,” said Lula, as the president is also known, who spent weeks naming all 37 ministers to his proposed cabinet.

Lula won the presidential election by beating Jair Bolsonaro in October, vowing to safeguard Amazon and defend democracy.

The Brazilian president-elect is set to be sworn in on January 1.

Silva told Brazilian news network Globo TV that the name of the ministry she would lead will be changed to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Why is Marina Silva's appointment important?

Silva is one of the best known environmentalists in the country and a staunch defender of protecting the Amazon rainforest.

She served as the environment minister of the country when Lula won the presidency for the first time in 2003.

As an environment minister, she oversaw the creation of dozens of conservation areas at the rainforest, with deforestation rates dropping dramatically.

Silva, however, resigned in 2008 over a difference with her boss, who began catering to agribusiness interests.

The green activist was born in the Amazon and worked as a rubber tapper as an adolescent.

She was already seen as one of the top contenders for the job and attended the UN climate conference in Egypt in October with Lula, who promised cheering crowds "zero deforestation" in the Amazon by 2030.

Protecting the Amazon crucial for climate fight

The Amazon rainforest, which covers parts of several nations in South America, is crucial for absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide. The rainforest is also one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and home to millions of Brazilians

Jair Bolsonaro pushed development of the Amazon rainforest, both in his actions and rhetoric, and the deforested area in the rainforest reached a 15-year high from August 2020 to July 2021, according to official figures.

Lula appoints record-high 11 women to his proposed cabinet

In all, Lula has appointed 11 women to his proposed cabinet, more than any previous administration.

He named Sonia Guajajara, an Indigenous woman, as Brazil's first minister of Indigenous peoples.

He also named Carlos Favaro, a soybean producer, as agriculture minister, and Senator Simone Tebet, a former rival who became an ally during the electoral campaign, as planning and budget minister. 

rm/jcg (AP, Reuters)