“We joined together the Ministry of Agricultural Development, with the Ministry of Technology and the Ministry of Defence to create a deforestation detection system in real time”. She also toughened punishments for those who were illegally deforesting, and demarcated territories that were at risk. “We created 24 millions of hectares of conservation areas, we applied 4 billion in fines, and we sent lots of illegal loggers to prison”. Due to these actions, Silva drastically reduced deforestation rates whilst she was Minister for the Environment.
Brazil, like many other Latin American countries, has been deeply divided and politically polarised between the left and right, and Silva is also critical of how these political forces have co-opted environmental issues in their political agendas, adding confusion and fostering disengagement.
“Some of the more traditional sectors of the left in Brazil, in this context of polarisation, began to create a discourse that defending the environment was exclusively a left-wing issue”, and consequently, many people didn’t want to become involved. “But we have to overcome this discourse, because caring for the environment has no political ideology. It’s not left-wing nor is it right-wing".
Many challenges lie ahead in Brazil to defend the rainforest and create a culture of political mobilisation among citizens, given that the left has been discredited by several corruption scandals, and the right has overtly authoritarian tendencies. However, people must take to the streets to defend the Amazon rainforest if they really want things to change.
The last point that Silva emphasises: “Now more than ever we need sustainable development, and not the kind of development that we’re seeing right now. That means, a country that is environmentally sustainable, politically democratic, and socially developed”.
If we can’t combat this overall confusion and the crisis of values we’re currently suffering from in Latin America, this sustainable development will become increasingly difficult to achieve.
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