Brazil protests: Dilma Rousseff unveils reforms

 

Dilma Rousseff spoke on national television

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has unveiled a series of reforms in an attempt to end days of nationwide anti-government protests.

In a televised address she said she would draft a new plan to benefit public transport and that all oil royalties would be used in education.

She also said that thousands of doctors would be drafted in from overseas to improve the national health service.

Earlier she held an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the protests.

The demonstrations began over transport fare rises in Sao Paulo, but quickly grew into rallies across the country against corruption and other issues.

On Thursday night more than a million people took to the streets and there was violence in various cities in which dozens were injured and two people died.

Protests continued on Friday with an estimated 1,000 people marching in Rio de Janeiro.

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I want institutions that are more transparent, more resistant to wrongdoing”

End Quote Dilma Rousseff Brazilian president

Witnesses said some stores were looted and an empty arts centre building was invaded. Police were pelted with rocks and responded with tear gas.

Demonstrations also took place in Sao Paulo, where traffic was brought to a halt but no violence was reported, and in Fortaleza in Brazil's north-east.

In her address - pre-recorded and broadcast nationally on TV and radio - Mrs Rousseff said she was listening to the demonstrators' concerns.

She promised to meet the leaders of the peaceful protests saying she needed "their contribution, their energy and their ability".

Football anger

The BBC's Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo says President Rousseff struck a conciliatory note for the most challenging speech she has had to make as Brazil's leader.

"I want institutions that are more transparent, more resistant to wrongdoing," she said.

Young people march next in Belo Horizonte, 21 June 2013 What began as a local protest about transport has grown to engulf Brazil and encompass other issues

She also defended hosting next year's football World Cup saying Brazil had always been welcomed in international events.

"We will treat our guests with respect and make a great World Cup," she said.

Answering criticism of the cost of hosting the event, she said the World Cup would be financed by companies that are making use of the sporting arenas.

"I would never allow this money to come out of the taxpayers' money, harming essential areas such as health and education," she said.

Some of the protests have targeted the Confederations Cup, the eight-team tournament currently taking place which is considered a dry run for next year's World Cup.

Demonstrators have expressed their anger at steep ticket prices and the money spent on both tournaments, as well as the 2016 Olympic Games, which Rio de Janeiro is hosting.

Football's world governing body, Fifa, has strongly rejected Brazilian media speculation that the Confederations Cup could be cancelled.

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Belem

Protesters in Belem

In the city of Belem - at the mouth of the Amazon River - riot police clashed with stone-throwing protesters. Demonstrators also hung protest banners and flags on City Hall.

Brasilia

Protesters in Brasilia

In the capital Brasilia, demonstrators targeted government buildings around the city's central esplanade. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to scatter the crowds.

Belo Horizonte

Protesters in Belo Horizonte

Police and protesters clashed in the eastern city of Belo Horizonte, which hosted a game in the Confederations Cup - the warm-up tournament for the World Cup.

Sao Paulo

Protesters in Sao Paulo

The widespread demonstrations taking place across the country followed a police crackdown on smaller protests in Sao Paulo, which galvanized Brazilians to take to the streets. The city saw thousands gather once again near the city's landmark Avenida Paulista late on Thursday.

Fortaleza

At least 30,000 people rallied in the north-eastern city of Fortaleza ahead of the Confederations Cup game with Mexico this week. Brazilian police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters.

Salvador

Protesters in Salvador

There were clashes outside a football stadium in Salvador ahead of a Confederations Cup football match between Nigeria and Uruguay. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has seen some of the worst unrest. Late on Thursday, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at groups of masked young men trying to approach the City Hall. A number of people were injured.

Porto Alegre

Protesters in Porto Alegre

Earlier this week, more than 40 people were arrested in the southern city of Porto Alegre after a small group peeled away from a protest march of about 10,000 demonstrators to attack shops.

 

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