For support in Congress, Lula sets aside the environmental agenda and wears out Marina
Despite the international discourse, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) left aside the environmental agenda in an attempt to increase his support within the National Congress. As a result, the Minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, saw her portfolio emptied by the Legislature with the support of the Planalto Palace articulation.
At the center of Ibama’s crisis with Petrobras over the discussion of oil exploration at the mouth of the Amazon River, Marina suffered a series of defeats this week in the National Congress – with support from Lula’s base. The first of them occurred through the vote on the Provisional Measure that deals with the restructuring of the Esplanada dos Ministérios by the mixed commission, where the rapporteur of the matter, deputy Isnaldo Bulhões (MDB-AL), emptied the functions of the folder.
The Minister of the Environment lost, for example, the functions of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), responsible for controlling private lands and conflicts in preservation areas. The rapporteur proposed that this function remain under the umbrella of the Ministry of Management and Innovation in Public Services.
The MP’s report also provides for the transfer of management from the National Water and Basic Sanitation Agency (ANA) to the Ministry of Integration and Regional Development.
Marina Silva’s portfolio also lost control over the National Information System on Basic Sanitation (Sinisa), the National Information System on Solid Waste Management (Sinir) and the National Water Resources Management System (Singreh). These functions were transferred to the Ministry of Cities.
Unlike Marina’s portfolio, Lula’s articulators mobilized against the strategy of parliamentarians who tried to empty the functions of the Minister of Civil House, Rui Costa. During the proceedings, deputies defended, for example, that Costa should not be in charge of coordinating the Investment Partnership Program (PPI). After pressure from the Planalto, the rapporteur ended up retreating from the measure.
Lula can go to the STF to avoid emptying the environmental agenda
Bulhões’s report was approved by the mixed commission by a score of 15 votes to 3. Despite the emptiness of Marina’s portfolio, the government did not advise against the text presented by the rapporteur. The justification of Lula’s allies is that the Executive was in a hurry with the procedure, since the MP will expire on June 1st. The Provisional Measure still needs to be voted on in the plenary sessions of the House and Senate.
In addition, petistas argue that the government had to give in to the correlation of forces within the Legislature. According to the leader of the government in Congress, Senator Randolfe Rodrigues (without party), the Lula administration was not successful in the negotiations on the environmental agenda.
“We, the government, have not been able to advance, although we have advocated, but none of the aspects of the environmental issue have managed to make progress”, minimized Rodrigues.
In addition to the Environment, the MP’s report dehydrated the functions of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples. The portfolio commanded by Sônia Guajajara lost its attributions regarding the demarcation of new indigenous lands and transferred this responsibility to the Ministry of Justice, commanded by Flávio Dino (PSB).
To try to circumvent the criticism generated by the government’s position in the MP vote and avoid a clash with Congress, Lula’s allies indicate that the Executive may take the case to the Federal Supreme Court (STF). The argument put forward is that the Constitution says that “the President of the Republic is exclusively responsible for” issuing decrees on the organization and functioning of the federal administration, “when it does not imply an increase in expenses or the creation or extinction of public bodies”.
This understanding, however, is not yet closed by the Planalto Palace. Lula’s allies argue that this move could result in retaliation in future votes by parliamentarians, given that judicialization would remove the discussion from the political sphere.
Marina suffered other defeats in the Chamber with the support of the Lula government
In addition to having her briefcase emptied, Marina Silva suffered other defeats within the Chamber without a contrary position on the part of the leadership of the Lula government. Deputies voted on an MP edited at the end of the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and resumed excerpts that loosen the rules for protecting the Atlantic Forest.
These items had been withdrawn by the Senate, but the government voted in favor of flexibility during the vote in the House. In the PT, for example, there were 35 votes in that direction, and 14 against. The text goes to Lula’s sanction. According to the Minister of Institutional Relations, Alexandre Padilha, Lula will veto this section of the MP.
“Due to the commitment we have with sustainability, my position, which was established from the beginning, is to veto, not to allow aggression to the Atlantic Forest in this provisional measure”, said Padilha in an interview with GloboNews.
Still according to Padilha, there is a commitment with the parliamentarians so that Lula’s veto is not overturned by Congress. “There is already a commitment from the Senate that, [o presidente] vetoing, let the veto not be overturned. In the Chamber itself, the leadership has already signaled that [o veto] I wouldn’t be overthrown either,” he added.
In addition to this proposal, the government’s articulation was unable to prevent the approval of the PL’s urgent request that establishes the time frame for the promulgation of the 1988 Constitution for the demarcation of indigenous lands. In this case, the government released its bench to vote as it wished.
Lula’s movement against Marina could block the Mercosur agreement
In addition to political wear and tear, Lula’s movement on environmental agendas could block international agreements, including Mercosur with the European Union. In addition to Brazil, the treaty should benefit the other members of Mercosur: Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay and the associated countries: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname. Venezuela was also one of the member countries of the bloc, but it has been suspended since 2016.
Since the campaign, Lula has used the environmental agenda to try to gain international recognition. During his trips abroad, the PT party uses the defense of the environment discourse to try to attract support and funding from other countries.
For Marina Silva, however, the government’s recent moves may further delay the Mercosur agreement with the EU, since the Europeans have been trying to impose firm environmental restrictions for the signing of the term.
“President Lula’s credibility, or the Minister of the Environment, is not enough. The world will look at the legal framework and see that the government structure is not the one that won the elections, it is the government structure that lost. This will close all our doors,” he said, in a hearing at the Chamber’s Environment Committee.
Still according to Marina, the changes promoted in recent days are a “disservice to Brazil”. “Any attempt to dismantle the Brazilian national environmental system is a disservice to Brazilian society, to the Brazilian State. This can create very serious damage to economic, social and environmental interests”, she added.