SAO PAULO – Under pressure after more than a week of nationwide protests, Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff said Monday her government will spend $23 billion more on public transportation, promised to push a plebiscite on political reform and announced five core areas her government will focus on to improve government services.
Rousseff made the announcement after meeting with leaders of a free-transit activist group that launched the first demonstrations more than a week ago. They said they would continue to protest, including lending their support to a demonstration today in Sao Paulo organized by other groups.
The president also opened a meeting of governors and mayors from 26 capital cities to discuss making deep improvements.
“I mainly want to repeat that my government is listening to democratic voices. We must learn to hear the voices of the street,” Rousseff told the governors and mayors. “We all must, without exception, understand these signals with humility and accuracy.”
Rousseff said she would push debate about holding a plebiscite on political reform – a special constitutional assembly that would hear from the Brazilian public about how to improve Brazil’s political system. She also said her government would focus on five priorities: fiscal responsibility and controlling inflation; political reform; health care; public transport; and education.
Protesters have filled cities across this continent-sized country to air a wide spectrum of grievances including poor public services and billions of dollars of spending to prepare for next year’s World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics.