AUSTIN, Texas—Senator Marina Silva of the Amazon state of Acre will join three leading experts in a panel discussion on the future of the Amazon rainforest on April 4, 2000, at 7 p.m. in the Bass Lecture Hall at The University of Texas at Austin. This event is one of four public appearances the senator will make in her visit to Austin, scheduled for April 2-5.
Silva, a renowned environmental activist, will usher in a two-week commemoration of the 500-year anniversary of Brazil’s discovery during the first week in April. Her visit is co-sponsored by the Institute of Latin American Studies Student Association (ILASSA) and the Brazil Center of The Institute for Latin American Studies at UT Austin, demonstrating their continuing dedication to bringing the vanguard of Latin American leadership to UT Austin.
Joining Senator Marina on the panel are three acknowledged experts on the Amazon: Dr. Stephan Schwartzman, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and editor of From the Ashes: Reflections on Chico Mendes and the Future of the Rainforest;Dr. Susanna Hecht, professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-author (with Alexander Cockburn) of Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon; and Sean McKaughan, Brazil programs coordinator for the AVINA Group. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Pedro Jacobi (University of São Paulo), Tinker Visiting Professor at the Institute of Latin American Studies at UT Austin.
In addition to presenting the keynote address at the April 3 commemoration at 6 p.m. in Bass Lecture Hall, Silva will participate in a series of discussions both on and off campus addressing issues related to the future of the Amazon, the role of women in politics, income inequalities and grassroots activism.
Silva’s birthplace of Acre borders Bolivia and Peru. A child of rubber tappers, Marina was illiterate until age 14, working in the fields and extracting rubber until age 16, when illness forced her to move to the city for treatment. In Rio Branco, the state capital, the future senator rapidly learned to read and write, eventually graduating from the Federal University of Acre with a degree in history.
In Rio Branco, Silva began a lifelong activism, joining with Chico Mendes to found the state affiliate of the United Workers’ Federation (CUT). Together, the two fought to improve conditions for the seringueiro (rubber tapper) and other traditional rainforest populations. Tragically, Mendes was assassinated in 1988, but Silva has continued the fight against corruption and social injustice.
In 1995, running as candidate for the Workers’ Party (PT), Silva overwhelmingly was elected to represent Acre in the Federal Senate, surprising her contenders with a campaign focused on the sustainable use of the forest. Her election at age 36 made her one of the youngest senators in the history of Brazil and one of only six women among 81 senators.
During her tenure as senator, Silva has garnered national and international acclaim as a champion of environmental and social causes, fighting for poverty alleviation, sustainable development, biodiversity protection and indigenous rights. Rising steadily through the ranks of the PT, Senator Silva has emerged as a leader for the 21st century. In recognition of her tireless efforts, she has been honored by the Goldman Environmental Foundation and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
For further information and a list of events, please consult the ILASSA website available at http://lanic.utexas.edu/ilas/ILASSA/msilva or contact Michelle Zweede at the Brazil Center, firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 232-2416.