In another setback for former President and leading presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Associated Press reports that a judge has ordered the seizure of his nearly $3 million pension fund. The order comes a day after $190,000 in four of Lula’s bank accounts were frozen and less than two weeks after he was convicted on corruption charges. Although Lula was sentenced to more than nine years in prison, he remains free while he appeals his case.
Brazil faces a situation where the sitting president, Michel Temer, has been accused of corruption and the front runner for the next presidential election has been convicted of corruption. Furthermore, hundreds of politicians in Brazil have also been implicated by Operation Car Wash, the massive corruption scandal related to the state run oil company PETROBRAS and to which the Odebrecht corruption scandal is related.
This situation has made two-time presidential candidate Marina Silva the new favorite for next year’s presidential election.
Marina Silva comes from a humble background as a rubber tapper in the eastern state of Acre, deep in the Amazon. During her early life, she overcame immense personal obstacles, becoming the first literate person in her family and eventually a graduate of the Federal University of Acre. In 1995 at the age of 36, she was elected to the Federal Senate. She served as a Senator for nearly eight years before becoming Minister of the Environment under President Lula. In 2008 she resigned from Lula’s cabinet, and in 2010 she ran for president as the Green Party candidate, receiving 19 percent of the vote in the first round.
Marina’s rise in Brazilian politics reached another milestone during the 2014 presidential race. Originally Eduardo Campos’ running mate for the Socialist Party, Marina was propelled to the top of the ticket after Campos died in a plane crash. On election day, she again came in third with 21 percent of the vote.
In an article titled “Marina was Right. Will she be Brazil’s next president?” Americas Quarterly looks back on Marina’s campaign messages relating to corruption and the economic recession that was just begining in Brazil. In hindsight, her warnings were dead on. Operation Car Wash began in March 2014 and has led to more than 200 people being charged with crimes. The economic crisis that also began in 2014 has not yet abated.
A recent poll by Datafohla places Marina as the front runner in a presidential race without Lula. At a time when the establishment is crumbling under corruption allegations and failed economic policies, Marina Silva may prove to be the right candidate at the right time for a country in desperate need of change.