Photo: Dilma Rousseff
President Dilma Rousseff repeated Tuesday that Brazil is “a democratic country” and that its government guarantees the right to “peaceful protest” during the World Cup soccer competition, which begins June 12.
“If people want to protest, they can perfectly well do so, but democracy does not signify vandalism nor harming the rest of the population,” Rousseff said during a visit to the construction site of the Sao Francisco River diversion.
The head of state was referring to demonstrations being planned by a number of social movements during the World Cup to protest against the fortune in public funds being spent on the event and to demand more investment in health care, education and transport instead.
“Whoever wants to protest can do so, but whoever does protest may not harm the World Cup in any way,” the president said, recalling that the armed forces along with state security organizations will keep watch to “guarantee that the protests are peaceful.”
Last year when Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup, hundreds of thousands took part in protests against heavy public spending on high-profile sporting events, knocking Rousseff’s approval rating down from 70 percent to 35 percent.
The president recalled that, when those protests occurred, she urged all members of her government to “listen to the voice in the sreets” and fast-tracked a series of social and infrastructure plans that were already being prepared.
She also repeated her conviction that Brazilians will give their full backing to the World Cup, above all because of their great passion for soccer.
“We’re a very generous people. We’re going to welcome and treat well everyone who comes here to celebrate. I believe it’s necessary that everyone have that attitude, that it’s everyone’s guideline, in order to assure the success of a festival of such proportions,” she said.