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article imageBrazil's green candidate aims to restore 'credibility'

By Jordi MIRO (AFP)     Jul 10, 2018 in Politics

Amidst corruption scandals, economic problems and the political instability surrounding the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, environmentalist presidential candidate Mariana Silva is vowing to restore credibility in Brazil.

"One crucial thing is to drag the country out of the crisis due to the lack of investments," Silva told AFP in an interview in Brasilia.

"Everyone is hoping for a government that can provide credibility and legitimacy, to know what's going to happen, to have some sort of security," added the 60-year-old, running for president for the third time.

Silva is a former senator and was environment minister in Lula's leftwing government. But now she dreams of making history as her country's first black president.

- 'Do away with corruption' -

Since the "Car Wash" corruption investigation's tentacles have reached far and wide across the political spectrum, the untouched Silva is calling on citizens to vote for change in the October 7 election to "do away with corruption."

It's a bold statement in a country that has seen former leftist President Dilma Rousseff, her country's first female leader, impeached; her predecessor Lula jailed for accepting a bribe and current head of state Michel Temer accused of corruption alongside many of his conservative allies.

"It's clear that those who've created the problem cannot resolve it," said Silva.

"The major parties are battling against each other but they're united in one goal: ending Car Wash!"

Marina Silva  candidata del partido Rede Sustentabilidade a la presidencia de Brasil  hablando ante ...
Marina Silva, candidata del partido Rede Sustentabilidade a la presidencia de Brasil, hablando ante los empresarios de la ConfederaciĆ³n Nacional de la Industria, el 4 de julio de 2018 en Brasilia

The troubled Lula remains atop the presidential polls despite his incarceration. But unless he manages to secure his release before October, he won't be able to run.

That has left Silva running second to far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, against whom she could then face in a runoff on October 28.

In that two-horse race she would be the favorite and Silva has vowed to make changes if elected, starting by limiting presidents to one term, which she plans to extend from four to five years.

"I would be president for only four years. After that the term would be five years," she said.

"Re-election in Brazil is a problem. Those elected don't do what's necessary for the country... they do what's necessary to be re-elected."

Although she was environment minister from 2003 to 2008 in Lula's government that was allied with then-Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, Silva broke ranks with the Workers Party and went her own way.

She set up her own party in 2013 -- the Sustainability Network -- stood against Lula's hand-picked successor Rousseff in 2010 and 2014, and has become a vocal critic of Chavez's successor, Nicolas Maduro.

- 'Humanitarian problem' -

The crippling economic crisis facing Venezuela has seen thousands of migrants head across the border into the Brazilian state of Roraima.

"There's a humanitarian problem in Venezuela. Disgracefully, Venezuela is no longer a democracy," blasted Silva, before a softening of tone, adding: "It's a delicate matter because it needs diplomacy and mediation."

An evangelical Christian, Silva has said she will put sensitive subjects such as the legalization of abortion or decriminalization of certain drugs to referendum.

Born into a poor family in the Amazonian state of Acre, where she twice served as senator, Silva has promised to do everything in her power to stop deforestation.

Economically, she sits on the fence, saying she has no intention of privatizing big businesses such as the national oil giant Petrobras -- at the epicenter of most of the country's corruption scandals -- while insisting she will try to end hyperinflation.

"We need to tackle serious problems. We have very high public debt and need to resolve the fiscal deficit problem, but we won't do this by undermining strategic social interests," she said.

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