Brazil braces for more unrest despite Rousseff speech

Last Updated: Saturday, June 22, 2013 - 20:41

Sao Paulo: Brazil girded for more street protests on Saturday despite President Dilma Rousseff`s conciliatory remarks pledging to improve public services and fight corruption, while warning against further violence.

Rallies coordinated via social media were called in several cities, including Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Salvador.

In an address to the nation late Friday, Rousseff offered a plan to improve public services-a key gripe of the demonstrators-and stressed the need for "more effective ways to fight corruption."

Her remarks came a day after more than one million people marched in cities across the country to slam the huge cost of hosting the World Cup while public services such as schools and hospitals are so shoddy.
The protests have been largely peaceful but some have been marred by violence and acts of vandalism, notably in Rio and Brasilia.

"People have a right to criticize," Rousseff said.

She promised to meet with the leaders of peaceful demonstrations as well as workers and community leaders, and added: "I am the President of all Brazil. Of those who support the demonstration and those who do not."

But the President warned against further violence.
"The government cannot stand by as people attack public property ... and bring chaos to our streets," she stressed.

Saturday`s planned protests coincide with matches of the Confederations Cup, a dry run for next year`s World Cup, including an Italy-Brazil clash in Salvador.

In Belo Horizonte, demonstrators were planning to march to the Mineirao stadium where Japan is playing Mexico. Authorities have pledged to tighten security there.

In Sao Paulo, the Free Pass Movement (MPL) that sparked the nation-wide protests over higher mass transit fares two weeks ago said on its Facebook page that they would go on, even though the increase has been repealed.
Some spokespersons for the group had said on Friday the rallies were being suspended because some of the protests had turned violent.

But MPL says it will press on until public transport is free of charge.

"The only way to change life is by fighting," the Facebook posting said.

The protests have mushroomed into a national outcry over what protesters say are lousy schools, hospitals and other public services and corrupt politicians while Brazil spends billions to prepare to host the World Cup next year and the Summer Olympics in 2016.

AFP

First Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013 - 20:40
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