Marina Silva's presidential bid could help save the Amazon

29 August 2014

LIMA, Peru — When Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos’ plane went down near Sao Paulo this month, one of the most improbable consequences may have been to thrust the Amazon center stage in the race.

Yet that’s what is happening now that Campos’ running mate, environmentalist Marina Silva, has taken his place on the ballot for the October vote.

Silva, who learned to read and write only at age 16 after growing up in poverty on a remote jungle plantation, has a certain appeal with disgruntled voters. She even won praise from Greenpeace during her five years as environment minister.

Now a poll predicts 56-year-old Silva will squeeze into the second round of voting and narrowly beat President Dilma Rousseff. It is the first time that Rousseff, 66, has been behind in the polls.

This could make Silva the first environmentalist to lead a major world economy. And what happens to the environment in Brazil, home to the planet’s great green lungs, matters on a global scale.

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