‘Cannot live with violence that shames Brazil,’ president says as protesters block intl airport

TV grab showing Brazilian President Dilma Roussef adressing the nation on June 21, 2013 in Brasilia one day after more than one million marched to demand better living conditions (AFP Photo)

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Although Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff pledged to hold dialogue with protesters, there were no signs that the demonstrators, most of whom are students and the middle class, are going to calm down.

New demonstrations broke out on Friday, including one that blocked most passengers from entering or leaving the country’s busiest international airport, outside Sao Paulo, for several hours.

Rousseff, a former guerrilla who once protested against military rule during the 1960s, has pledged to listen to the protesters’ demands.

After her televised address, the hashtag #calabocadilma –“Shut up, Dilma” – appeared on Twitter, with comments slamming her government.

She said it was her “obligation to listen to the voice of the streets, as well as dialogue with all segments” of society peacefully protesting.

Unlike other protest movements, such as the Arab Spring, Brazil’s demonstrators are not targeting individual politicians, and Brazil’s president remains relatively popular.

“We cannot live with this violence that shames Brazil,”Rousseff said in a pre-recorded address broadcast on Friday night. “All institutions and public security forces should prevent, within the limits of the law, every form of violence and vandalism.”

But she promised the nation that her administration would create a national plan for public transportation in cities and to allocate natural resource revenues for education. She also pledged to reform the public health system by attracting doctors from abroad, and has agreed to meet demonstrations’ leaders to discuss the issues. In her address, delivered from the presidential palace, she guaranteed improvements to public services and vowed to fight official corruption.

“I want institutions that are more transparent, more resistant to wrongdoing,” Rousseff said of Brazil’s notoriously corrupt political and business spheres. “It’s citizenship and not economic power that must be heard first.” 

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