Dilma Rousseff is the current President of Brazil. Belo Horizonte was supposed to have an improved, extended metro system by the opening of the 2014 World Cup. With 60 days to go, it does not.
Daughter of a Bulgarian entrepreneur, Rousseff was raised in an upper middle class household in Belo Horizonte. She was a socialist during her youth, although now she is more of a “pragmatic capitalist”.
Rousseff became a guerrilla fighter following the 1964 coup d’état against the military dictatorship. She was jailed between 1970 and 1972, where she was reportedly tortured.
As Minister she helped introduce “Luz para todos” (“Light for all”), an attempt to bring electricity to the poorer parts of Brazil. It was supposed to be paid for by the government but the money actually comes out of higher tariffs for customers.
She also backs the “Fome Zero” (“Zero Hunger”) campaign, and took federal tax off everyday items (meat, milk, beans, rice, flour, potatoes, tomatoes, bread, sugar, coffee powder, cooking oil, butter, bananas and apples).
Throwing the poor a bone is a politically-calculated move to get millions of votes behind you (see Lula’s Bolsa Familia or “Family Allowance”, an act handing out cash transfers to the poorest). It looks good, it’s fairly cheap, and it actually helps the poorest of society (poverty reportedly fell by 27 per cent and it directly helped 12 million families). I say “reportedly” because politicians know how to make the stats look good.
Public sector workers have been regularly striking during her term as president but she refuses to cater to their demands, insisting the private sector should be prioritised in all economic issues.