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Brazil: Marina Silva Pulls Vanishing Act After Election Loss

Where have you gone, Marina Silva?
Where have you gone, Marina Silva?
Bernardo Mello Franco

BRASILIA — Not so many months ago, pollsters were saying she'd be Brazil's next president. But now, three months after failing to make it to even the second round of the election, former Sen. Marina Silva is nowhere to be seen. The once high-flying candidate seems to have lost more than just a presidential race.

Some of the people closest to Silva during the campaign have been quick to move away. The latest on the list are Walter Feldman and Luiza Erundina, who coordinated her whole campaign and helped launch her new party, Sustainability Network. Others involved in the new project had already left and are now trying to create their own political group, Avante (Forward), inspired by Spain's Podemos party.

Silva's isolation can be explained at least in part by her decision to support center-right candidate Aécio Neves against incumbent President Dilma Rousseff in the second round. That move divided her supporters, the so-called Marineiros.

It was a "wrong" and "incoherent" choice, says Erundina, a member of the legislature. "Marina denounced in the strongest terms the polarization between Rousseff's Workers' Party and Neves' Social Democracy Party, but in the end she decided to pick one of these sides. It contradicted everything she stood for during her campaign."

Erundina, who is now becoming closer to the dissidents building Avante, is also critical of Silva's decision to "vanish" since losing the election. The former candidate and environmental activist has even avoided events organized by political allies. Silva, in fact, hasn't been seen in public in almost two months.

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Photo: msilvaonline

Erundina thinks someone who managed to gather 22 million votes just a few months ago shouldn't play hide and seek, especially now that the government is announcing tough and unpopular economic measures such as tax hikes and benefit cuts.

"Marina is being too quiet," Erundina says. "This is a serious situation, but I don't hear her say anything about it anymore. She created an expectation that she would tackle national issues, but sadly the Brazilian people are still waiting for an answer."

Walter Feldman, Silva's right-hand man in 2014, started to distance himself soon after the second round, eventually going so far as to resign from the Brazilian Socialist Party. Now he's left politics entirely — to assist the future president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, soccer's national body. Feldman prefers not to comment on Silva's future. When asked about her public absence, he says only that he hasn't spoken with her. "Marina has her own temporal logic," he says.

Her former ally might have a point. Silva hasn't given an interview since mid-December and declined an invitation to speak with Folha de S. Paulo. According to her advisor, she spent the last month-and-a-half vacationing with her family but will return soon to launch her new party.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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