Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Nominates a Controversial Candidate

By Delisa Morris,

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BRASILIA, Brazil–Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has stirred up the wrath of environmentalists by appointing a controversial advocate of agribusiness and weaker forest conservation as her new agriculture minister.

Katia Abreu / photo courtesy of opotiguar.com

Kátia Abreu, nicknamed the “Chainsaw Queen”, by her enemies, is included in a new cabinet that rewards political allies who supported Rousseff in her recent narrow re-election victory.

Abreu, is a leading figure in the “ruralista” party.  The ruralista party prompted the Brazilian government to weaken Brazil’s forrest code.  In both congressional debates and her newspaper column Abreu has called for more roads through the Amazon.  Abreu has also advocated for congressional control over demarcation of indigenous reserves, more efficient monocultures, and the approval of genetically modified ‘terminator seeds’.

The cabinet post is the first step towards further political gains for Abreu.  Abreu is known as a formidable political operator. In a previous interview the cabinet member expressed a desire to run for president and emulate former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Abreu has also said that she wanted to make Brazil the leading agricultural producer in the world.

Abreu says she is an advocate of sustainable development and insists that Brazilian agriculture can overtake the US without any further deforestation.

But her promotion has horrified and outraged many environmental campaigners. In a statement titled “Miss Deforestation is the new agricultural minister,” Greenpeace warned that the Rousseff administration was now set on an alarming course.

“By choosing Katiá Abreu, the president has confirmed that the path the government will take in the coming years will put agribusiness above the environment”, it said, claiming the senator was a leading figure in forest destruction and suppression of the rights of rural workers and indigenous people.

Reinforcing such concerns, the new science and technology minister will be Aldo Rebelo – a man with a reputation as a climate change sceptic. In a tweet posted several years ago, Rebelo used a cold spell in São Paulo to mock claims of global warming and support the Belo Monte hydro electric dam.

“Hello, Sao Paulo, cold in here, huh? Where are the advocates of global warming now? In the shops, buying the last heater … Electric! Long live Belo Monte!”, he said.

For more information, please see:

malaymail – From housewife to senator: Katia Abreu is Brazil’s ‘ranching queen’ – 25 Dec. 2014

the guardian – Brazil’s ‘chainsaw queen’ appointed new agriculture minister – 24 Dec. 2014

Yahoo News – Rise of Brazil’s ranching queen sparks green protests – 24 Dec. 2014

Merco Press – Katia Abreu to become Brazil’s new Minister of Agriculture – 24 Dec. 2014

Author: Delisa Morris

Delisa Morris is a Law Student and Master of Science Candidate in Public Relations at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.

She is originally from Chicago, Illinois and completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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