News / Americas

    Five-point Plan Boosts Brazil Leader; Social Media Push to Come

    FILE - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Sept. 2, 2013. FILE - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Sept. 2, 2013.
    x
    FILE - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Sept. 2, 2013.
    FILE - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Sept. 2, 2013.
    Reuters
    When a Brazilian newspaper reported last month that President Dilma Rousseff had gone for a nighttime spin incognito around the capital on the back of an aide's Harley-Davidson, her favorable mentions soared on social media.
     
    It was just what Rousseff needed after a bad couple of months: She had been booed at an international soccer match and at a gathering of mayors from around the country. Worse still, her popularity tanked following massive street protests against corruption, poor public services and the high cost of living.
     
    The unexpected outburst of anger was aimed at politicians of all stripes and targeted Congress. But it also shook Rousseff's administration to the core and clouded the prospects for next year's election, when she is widely expected to run for a second four-year term.
     
    A technocrat with a distaste for the gladhanding of politics, Rousseff quickly gathered her closest advisers, led by her 2010 campaign adviser and pollster JoIao Santana, and drew up a plan to connect more with the public through travel and the Internet, an aide said.
     
    The president responded to the demonstrators' main demands with a five-point plan to improve public transportation, health and education services, maintain fiscal discipline and reform Brazil's political system to make it more accountable.
     
    The president has increased the frequency of her trips around Brazil to two or three a week to inaugurate new schools, low-cost housing and infrastructure projects aimed at upgrading and expanding the overcrowded urban transit systems that sparked the first protests in June.
     
    “A government cannot be deaf,” Rousseff, 65, told a crowd on Wednesday in a working-class suburb of Rio de Janeiro where she announced plans to build a new metro line.
     
    Talk radio
     
    Donning a hardhat and orange overalls, she visited a shipyard that is building a production and storage platform to tap Brazil's huge offshore oil reserves, praising a law she proposed - and Congress quickly passed after the protests - to use royalties to fund education and health programs.
     
    At each stop, Rousseff starts by speaking to local radio stations, a trick borrowed from her charismatic predecessor and political mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who remains hugely popular almost three years after leaving office.
     
    Santana “has told her that she has to get out there and beat the bush and expose herself to the people and explain all the good things that she has been doing,” said David Fleischer, a professor of politics at the University of Brasilia.
     
    The results are beginning to show. Rousseff's approval rating sank from 73.7 percent before the protests to 49.3 percent in July. By last week it had climbed back to 58 percent.
     
    The bump in the polls can partly be explained by the president's efforts to improve public services in states with a large middle class, such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais - the same states that saw the biggest protests in June.
     
    In a nod to the power of the Internet - the protests were mostly organized on social media - Rousseff is also taking her campaign to cyberspace.
     
    Presidential aides said the government plans to revamp its official www.brasil.gov.br website to make it more attractive and user-friendly, providing everything from tax information to a winning lottery number, not just touting government deeds.
     
    Rousseff's Facebook page will be redesigned, and the president will take to Twitter again, having stopped after winning the 2010 election, they said.
     
    Leader of the pack
     
    If her poll numbers keep creeping higher, political analysts say Rousseff will kick off the election year with a comfortable level of support and as odds-on favorite among a relatively weak field of potential rivals.
     
    In a recent poll, the number of respondents who said they would vote for Rousseff rose by 3 percentage points from July to 36.4 percent, while support for Aecio Neves, the likely candidate of the main opposition party, PSDB, held steady at 15.2 percent.
     
    Environmentalist Marina Silva, who placed third in 2010, was the only politician to gain ground from June's protests because she was not identified with the political establishment. However, she is running out of time to register her new party, called the Sustainability Network, by Oct. 5 to be able to run for president again next year.
     
    Cristiano Noronha, a political analyst with consulting firm Arko Advice in Brasilia, said Rousseff's opponents have failed to capitalize on the political crisis created by the street protests. Still, her reelection will hinge on what matters most, he said: economic performance.
     
    Voters will want to see inflation and unemployment kept under control. The infrastructure concessions and oil contracts to be auctioned in coming weeks will also be crucial for the government to revive investment and confidence in Brazil's sluggish economy.
     
    A U.S. Federal Reserve decision on Wednesday to taper off monetary stimulus, which hurts emerging economies like India and Brazil, would not help the recovery Rousseff needs, Noronha said.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.

    More Americas News

    In Cuba, Racial Inequality Deepens With Tourism Boom

    As capitalism creeps in more than 60 years after revolution that promised social equality, local residents, analysts concerned about gap between haves and have nots

    Video WFP: 3.6 Million Haitians Face Food Insecurity

    Half of Haiti's population works in agriculture; Around 75 percent live on less than $2 per day

    Video Olympics Technology Center Getting Ready for 2016 Games

    This year, the whole system will be cloud-based, enabling millions of fans around the world instant access to relevant information about the competition

    Red Cross Scales Up Community Action to Combat Zika

    ICRCS is mobilizing its large volunteer force in affected communities to help them clear up trash and areas where mosquitoes can breed

    Haiti's Prime Minister Calls for Peace on 1st Day Without President

    Evans Paul urges Haitian protesters to end weeks of sometimes violent street marches and join a dialogue to create a transitional government

    Social Media Erupts in Support of Sikh Man Barred from Flight

    Waris Ahluwalia says he was barred from boarding a flight from Mexico City to New York because he refused to remove his turban