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Is a constitutional reset the answer to Brazil protester demands?

Brazil's Constitution was created in 1988 following years under a military dictatorship. This week, President Rousseff proposed a referendum on a constitutional assembly to create sweeping political reform.


Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (c.) sits with Cities Minister Agnaldo Ribeiro (l.) and Planning Minister Miriam Belchior (r.) as they meet with representatives of social movements at the presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Tuesday, June 25. So far, Brazilian protesters don't appear appeased by Rousseff's proposals.

Eraldo Peres/AP

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In an effort to end the widest series of street protests Brazil has seen for decades, President Dilma Rousseff made a vague offer of sweeping changes to the country's 25 year old Constitution. But whether her gambit will work, or meaningful changes will be made, remain open questions. 

The proposal to hold Brazil's first constitutional assembly since the current Constitution was adopted in 1988 was made after protesters were unmoved by President Rousseff's promise on Friday to fight official corruption by strengthening Brazil's freedom of information act.

The tin-eared proposal underscored one of the major complaints of the protesters – that Brazil's leaders are out of touch – and drove tens of thousands of Brazilians back to the street the next day.

So now, Rousseff has come with a bolder proposal. But it will have to address years of anger at a system many Brazilians believes serves politicians and business interests, not the public, if it's to work. 
“Here the politicians only come knocking on our door at election time,” says Neide Sacramento, a house cleaner protesting on the gritty edge of São Paulo this morning. “But once election time is over they disappear. We do not see them again.”

Democratic fervor

This week’s proposal for a constitutional assembly could offer the country a chance to fix its Constitution and address widespread corruption.


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