Brazil’s Rousseff may skip Confederations Cup final as popularity plunges

Dilma Rousseff’s approval fell to 30%, down from 57% before protests began three weeks ago and a high of 65% in March

Blake Schmidt
Updated30 Jun 2013
Demonstrators protest against the Confederations Cup in Brazil. Photo: Davi Pinheiro/Reuters <br />
Demonstrators protest against the Confederations Cup in Brazil. Photo: Davi Pinheiro/Reuters (Davi Pinheiro/Reuters )

Sao Paulo: Brazil President Dilma Rousseff may sit out Sunday’s Confederations Cup final match after the biggest plunge in popularity since ex-president Fernando Collor confiscated savings accounts in 1990.

add_main_imageRousseff’s approval fell to 30%, down from 57% before protests began three weeks ago and a high of 65% in March, according to a survey by Datafolha published Saturday in the daily newspaper Folha.

In Rio de Janiero, police are beefing up security outside the Maracana stadium for the final on Sunday between Brazil and world champion Spain in the Confederations Cup, a dry run for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. The two-week tournament has been magnifying demands for better public services as Brazil spends 30 billion reais ($13.4 billion) on stadiums and related projects ahead of the World Cup.NextMAds

A march that at least 18,000 people signed up to attend on Facebook will be joined by a group taking aim at billionaire Eike Batista, who holds a minority stake in a group that was awarded last month a 35-year contract to operate Rio de Janiero’s Maracana stadium.

“The game was rigged from the start, and we knew who was going to win the stadium auction,” Renato Consentino, a leader of the Popular Committee for the World Cup and Olympics, one of the organizers of the protest, said in an interview in Rio.

Meanwhile, about 300 people demanding deeper cuts in public transportation tariffs on Saturday occupied the government building in Belo Horizonte, the capital city of Minas Gerais state with 2.4 million residents, according to images on Globo TV.

Broad Support

In downtown Sao Paulo, police blocked roads for a March for Jesus, Marco Feliciano, the head of the congressional commission on human rights, tweeted from the event. Gay rights activists held protests in the city 21 June against a proposal approved by the commission to let psychologists recommend mental treatment for homosexuality.

Eight out of 10 Brazilians said they support the protests, according to the Datafolha survey of 4,717 people in 196 cities on 27 June and 28 June. Brazilians who say Rousseff’s management of the economy is good fell to 27%, from 49%, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.sixthMAds

Communications minister Paulo Bernardo told the daily Folha that Rousseff is calm about her drop in popularity and the government will keep working to reverse the slide in approval ratings. A ministry official declined to comment.

Political reform

In response to the unrest, Rousseff called on 24 June for a referendum on political reform and pledged another 50 billion reais for urban transportation after meeting with leaders of the protest group Passe Livre. In the Datafolha survey released Saturday, 68% of those surveyed said they support the referendum proposal.

Rousseff, who has struggled to stay ahead of the protests after being jeered at the tournament’s opening match 15 June in Brasilia, didn’t include Sunday’s soccer cup final on her official agenda e-mailed by the presidential press office last night. Estado earlier reported she wouldn’t attend.

FIFA’s Confederations Cup has been dubbed the Demonstrations Cup in placards and chants as protesters criticize money spent on stadiums in a nation where 21% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Protests have taken place ahead of almost every match, sometimes turning violent.

$500 Million

In Belo Horizonte, a 21-year-old died of head injuries on 27 June after falling from an overpass as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on a crowd of 50,000 outside the stadium where a semifinal match was taking place.

A group led by Odebrecht SA, Brazil’s largest builder, offered to pay 5.5 million reais annually to Rio’s state government to manage the near 79,000-seat Maracana, which reopened this month after a three-year, $500 million renovation.

While IMX has just a 5% stake, it’s been the focus of criticism because the company, a joint venture with IMG Worldwide Inc., first pitched the state on leasing the facility and then was hired to carry out the financial viability study. Batista is also a friend of Rio governor Sergio Cabral, himself a target of the anti-corruption movement that’s swept across the country.

IMX, when asked about protesters’ charges that the privatization process lacked transparency, responded in an e- mailed statement that it has followed all laws. Consorcio Maracana SA declined to comment, referring questions to the state government, which said the leasing process has concluded. BLOOMBERG

Joshua Goodman in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this story.

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