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A Child of the Amazon Shakes Up a Nation’s Politics

Marina Silva (Andre Vieira for NYTimes)

Marina Silva (Andre Vieira for NYTimes)

By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO

FOR Marina Silva, life began in the heart of the Amazon. From the age of 11, she walked nine miles a day helping her father collect rubber from trees. These days, as an icon in the environmental movement, she has dedicated her life to protecting that same rainforest.

Illiterate and seriously ill from hepatitis, Ms. Silva left her home when she was 16 and headed by bus to the city of Rio Branco seeking medical care and an education. There she learned how to read and write, graduated from college and became a teacher and a politician.

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