News / Americas

Brazil President Rousseff Salutes Protests

Protesters gather in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 18, 2013
Protesters gather in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 18, 2013
Reuters
President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday sought to defuse a massive protest movement sweeping Brazil, acknowledging the need for better public services and more responsive governance as demonstrations continued in some cities around the country.
 
Speaking the morning after more than 200,000 Brazilians marched in over a half-dozen cities, Rousseff said her government remains committed to social change and is listening attentively to the many grievances expressed at the demonstrations.
 
“Brazil woke up stronger today,” Rousseff said in a televised speech in Brasilia. “The size of yesterday's demonstrations shows the energy of our democracy, the strength of the voice of the streets and the civility of our population.”
 
Monday's demonstrations were the latest in a flurry of protests over the past two weeks that have fed on widespread frustration with poor public services, police violence and government corruption.
 
The protests, organized mostly by university students through snowballing social media campaigns, marked the first time that Brazilians have taken to the streets on such a large scale since economic volatility and a corruption scandal led to the toppling of a president in the early 1990s.
 
The demonstrations started as small protests in a few cities against an increase in bus and subway fares but quickly ballooned into a national movement after police fired rubber bullets at protesters in Sao Paulo last week in clashes that injured more than 100 people.
 
Eager to ease tensions and prevent future protests, officials in at least five cities, including important state capitals such as Porto Alegre and Recife, announced plans on Tuesday to lower bus fares.
 
But demonstrations continued in a few cities around the country, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where thousands gathered in front of the city's landmark cathedral in what protesters hoped would be a final push persuading local officials to cancel the bus fare increase.
 
Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, a prominent figure in Rousseff's left-leaning Workers' Party, said in a meeting with leaders of the protest movement on Tuesday that he is considering a cut in bus fares but needs to find ways to compensate for the loss in revenue.
 
Even if Haddad does cede, it remains unclear if that would be enough to halt the protests, given that protesters have embraced so many other causes.

Rousseff turns to Lula
 
Rousseff traveled to Sao Paulo on Tuesday afternoon to meet with Haddad and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, her predecessor and political mentor. A former metalworker and union boss who led massive protests in the late 1970s, Lula remains an important power broker in Brazilian politics.
 
The unrest comes at a delicate time for Rousseff, whose administration is struggling to rein in high inflation and get the economy back on track after two years of sluggish growth. Polls show Rousseff remains widely popular, but her approval ratings have begun to slip in recent weeks for the first time since taking office in early 2011.
 
A leftist guerrilla in her youth who was jailed for conspiring against Brazil's military dictatorship, Rousseff said the sight of so many young Brazilians marching for their rights moved her.
 
She also said her government sympathizes with the many grievances expressed at the demonstrations, from calls for more spending on education and healthcare to better and more affordable public transportation.
 
“My government hears the voices clamoring for change, my government is committed to social transformation,” Rousseff said. “Those who took to the streets yesterday sent a clear message to all of society, above all to political leaders at all levels of government.”

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Cubans Imagine New, More Prosperous Life Without an Old Foe

News of the historic shift in US-Cuban relations echoed quickly through the Spanish colonial plazas of Old Havana this week
More

Video Obama Faces Opposition on Cuba

Several legislative obstacles may stand in the way of normal relations with Cuba
More

US Expects January Talks With Cuba

Meeting, that was originally a periodic review of Cuba-US migration, will now include talks on restoring diplomatic relations
More

Brazil's Rousseff Pledges to Tighten Operations at Petrobras

She urges Brazilians not to lose faith in oil producer, which is mired in a corruption scandal
More

Colombia to Print Garcia Marquez Banknotes in Tribute to Writer

Currency to honor country's most celebrated writer, who died in April and who is renowned as the father of magical realism storytelling
More

US-Cuba Trade Could Grow Significantly

Analysts say US exports to Cuba could eventually hit $5.9 billion annually, while Havana's exports to the US could reach $6.7 billion
More