Brazil Leader to Protesters: Let's Talk

But it's unclear whether Dilma Rousseff's promise of reform will quiet the storm

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 22, 2013 6:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Brazil's president broke what the AP calls her "much-criticized silence" in the face of ever-growing demonstrations in a prime-time address last night, but it's unclear whether it will be enough to calm things down. Dilma Rousseff promised to meet with protesters and lawmakers to address the nation's transportation system and other grievances, but she also said the government would not tolerate the violence emerging in protests, reports Reuters.

"We cannot live with this violence that shames Brazil," says Rousseff —herself a former Marxist rebel who protested against the nation's military rule of the 1960s. (In fact, the AP says she was imprisoned for three years and tortured by the junta.) "All institutions and public security forces should prevent, within the limits of the law, every form of violence and vandalism." As for the promises of change, the New York Times adds a note of skepticism:

  • Rousseff "has floated her ambitious proposal before—to use oil revenues to improve the beleaguered public schools—only to run up against stiff resistance from state governors who rely on the money to meet their budgets, leaving her ability to enact it in doubt."

An image depicting Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff with devil horns is displayed on a post in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.   (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
A protester is detained by military police Friday.   (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads in Portuguese: "Brazil, lets keep going forward" while blocking a street with fellow protesters in Fortaleza, Brazil.   (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
A demonstrator during an anti-government protest in Rio de Janeiro Friday.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Protesters to block a street during a demonstration in Fortaleza, Brazil, Friday.   (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
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