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Economic Concerns Fueled Brazil Protests

From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report. Economic concerns have been at the heart of the recent protests in Brazil. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff answered growing public unrest over government spending and economic concerns. On June 24, she proposed a popular vote, or plebiscite, on a constitutional process to make reforms needed by the country.

President Rousseff also described a $23 billion spending plan. The money would go to public transportation and would support investment in education and health care. The Brazilian leader also promised to fight political corruption. President Rousseff met with state governors, city mayors and protest leaders in the capital, Brasilia.

It is estimated that one million people took part in protests across Brazil. Demonstrators are angry that the government is spending billions of dollars in public money in preparations for two huge sporting events. Brazil will hold the FIFA World Cup soccer championship next year and then the 2016 Olympic Games two years later. The protests started when the government announced it would increase transportation costs, such as bus and subway fares. But the protests soon turned to other economic issues, and spread. As a result, the government suspended its plans for the transportation fare increases. Demonstrators have been demanding better health care, education and public transportation and action against corruption. As Brazil prepares for the major sporting events, the country is also facing rising inflation. The inflation rate is now over six percent, which is higher than the government's target.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Mario Ritter.