Brazil's president promises reforms amid protests

BRASÍLIA — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff ended her near-silence about more than a week of massive, violent protests, saying in a prime-time TV broadcast Friday that peaceful demonstrations were part of a strong democracy but that violence could not be tolerated. She promised to make improvements to public services but said it couldn't be done overnight.

Rousseff said she would hold a meeting with leaders of the protest movement, governors and the mayors of major cities.

Though offering no details, Rousseff said her government would create a national plan for public transportation in cities — a hike in bus and subway fares in many cities was the original complaint of the protests. She also reiterated her backing for a plan before Congress to invest all oil revenue royalties in education and a promise she already made to bring in foreign doctors to areas that lack physicians.

"I'm going to meet with the leaders of the peaceful protests, I want institutions that are more transparent, more resistant to wrongdoing," Rousseff said in reference to perceptions of deep corruption in Brazilian politics, which is emerging as a focal point of the protests. "It's citizenship and not economic power that must be heard first."

The protests continued Friday, as about 1,000 people marched in Rio de Janeiro. Police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas as they were pelted with rocks. Police said some in the crowd were armed and firing at officers.

Protesters march against the government in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. After more than a week of protests, President Dilma Rousseff went on television Friday to promise improvements.

Associated Press

Protesters march against the government in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. After more than a week of protests, President Dilma Rousseff went on television Friday to promise improvements.

Brazil's president promises reforms amid protests 06/21/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 1:08am]

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