Lula's a Soybean Kind of Guy

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V.P. Alencar, Cabinet Chief Gilberto Carvalho, and Lula at his "Festa Junina" Party

Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

Sorry to have taken so long between blogs, but I've been out on the road launching our new book "Muddy Waters" on the Madeira River hydroelectric projects.

Catching up on the news, I found this item rather provocative: Gilberto Carvalho, Brazilian President Lula's Cabinet Chief told Veja Magazine "Lula has the head of a worker from the ABC (industrial zone near São Paulo). His basic concern is with jobs and salaries. I see this every day…I want to make this very clear: He thinks that preserving the environment is important, but if it's between a little piece of savanna or soybeans, he's a soybean guy. The environment is important, but not decisive. What's decisive is the economy".

I mean, either this explains everything…or nothing. I remember my father, who was a construction worker, didn't talk much about the environment either. But we spent perhaps our closest times together fishing in beautiful natural settings. Then, on the ride back, he'd point out all the powerplants that "he built".

So, does that mean that if the Brazilian economy takes a dive, Lula can think about protecting the rivers of the Amazon? Or is he a lost case? In this light, his appointing Marina Silva as Environment Minister must have been just to use her to convince the world that he cared about protecting the environment, while he really only cared about exploiting Brazil's natural resources. And his crying at Chico Mendes' funeral was just because Chico was a union leader.

I mean a worker from the ABC can't possibly care about the environment…or can he?