National Address of President Dilma Rousseff Regarding Demonstrations in Brazil
My dear friends,
All of us, Brazilians, are following with great attention the demonstrations taking place in the country.
They show the strength of our democracy and the desire of our youth to move Brazil forward.
If we make good use of the momentum brought by this new political energy, we can, in better and faster ways, achieve a lot of what Brazil has so far been unable to conquer because of political and economic constraints.
But if we allow violence to stray us from our path, not only will we be wasting a great historic opportunity, but we also run the risk of putting a lot to lose.
As President, I have both the obligation to hear the voices of our streets and to talk with all segments of our society, but within the rule of law and order, both indispensable to democracy.
Brazil fought hard to become a democratic country, and is also fighting hard to become a fairer country.
It was not easy to get to where we are, as it is also not easy to get where many of our citizens taking to the streets wish to go.
We can only turn this into reality if we strengthen democracy - the power of citizens and the powers of the Republic.
The demonstrators have the right and the freedom to question and criticize everything; to propose and demand changes; to fight for better quality of life; to passionately defend their ideas and proposals.
But they need to do so in a peaceful and orderly fashion.
Government and society cannot accept a violent and authoritarian minority set out to destroy public and private property, attack temples, set fire to vehicles, stone buses and attempt to bring chaos to our major urban centers.
This violence, promoted by a small minority, cannot tarnish a peaceful and democratic movement.
We cannot live with such violence, which shames Brazil.
All institutions and public safety bodies have the obligation to curb, within the limits of law, all forms of violence and vandalism.
With balance and serenity, but firmly, we will continue to guarantee the rights and the freedom of all.
I assure you: we will maintain order.
The demonstrations of this week have brought important lessons.
Bus fares have decreased and the demands of the demonstrators have gained national priority.
We must harness the vigor of these demonstrations to produce more changes that benefit the whole of Brazil’s population.
My generation fought hard for the voice of the streets to be heard. Many were persecuted, tortured and died for it.
The voice of the streets must be heard and respected, and it cannot be drowned in the noise and the brutality of a few rioters.
I am the President of all Brazilians; of those who are protesting and of those who are not.
The direct message coming from the streets is peaceful and democratic.
It demands a systematic fight against corruption and the embezzlement of public funds.
Everyone knows me. This is a something I will never let go.
This message requires higher quality for public services. It wants quality schools; it wants quality healthcare; it wants better public transport at fair prices; it wants more safety and security.
It wants more.
And to give more, institutions and governments must change.
Over the coming days, I will speak with the heads of the other government branches to join efforts. I will invite the state governors and mayors of all major cities of the country to come together on a great pact for the improvement of public services.
The focus will be threefold:
First, the preparation of a National Urban Mobility Plan, which will emphasize public transportation.
Second, the allocation of 100 percent of the national oil proceeds for education.
Third, immediately bringing thousands of doctors from overseas to expand the services provided under the Unified Healthcare System (the SUS).
I am hereby announcing that I will receive the leaders of the peaceful demonstrations and the representatives of youth organizations, unions, labor movements and popular associations.
We need their contributions, thoughts and experience. We need their energy and creativity, their bet on the future, and their capacity to challenge the mistakes of the past and the present.
We need to oxygenate our political system. We need to find mechanisms that make our institutions more transparent, more resistant to wrongdoing, and above all more permeable to the influence of society.
It is citizenship, not economic power, that must be heard first.
I want to contribute to building a broad and deep political reform that expands popular participation.
It is a mistake to think that any country can do without political parties, and especially without the popular vote, which is the basis of any democratic process.
We must work to ensure that our citizens have more comprehensive control mechanisms for their representatives.
We need, we very much need, more effective ways to fight corruption.
The Access to Information Act, which was passed under my government, must be extended to all branches of government and bodies of the federation. It is a powerful instrument for citizens to oversee the proper use of public money.
The best way to fight corruption is with transparency and rigor.
With regard to the World Cup, I want to clarify that the federal money spent on the stadiums is in the form of financing that will be duly repaid by the companies and governments that are exploiting these stadiums.
I would never allow these funds to come out of the federal public budget or to damage priority sectors such as health and education.
In fact, we have strongly expanded spending in health and education, and we will expand it more and more. I trust that the National Congress will approve the bill I presented that ensures that all oil royalties are spent exclusively on education.
It is also imperative that I mention a very important topic that has to do with our Brazilian soul and our manners.
Brazil, the only country to have participated in every World Cup and a five-time world champion, has always been very well received everywhere.
We must give our friends the same generous welcome we have received from them – with respect, love and joy. This is how we must treat our guests. Football and sport are symbols of peace and peaceful coexistence among peoples.
Brazil deserves to, and will, host a great World Cup.
My dear friends,
I want to reiterate that my government is listening to the democratic voices calling for change.
I want to say to you who have peacefully taken to the streets: I am hearing you, and I will not give in to violence or rioting.
It will always be in peace, with freedom and democracy, that we will continue to build together this great country of ours.