July 6, 2013 / 7:01 PM / 5 years ago

Brazil's Rousseff denies plans for post-protest Cabinet shakeup

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks during an announcement of the construction of the first 50 port terminals for private use (TUP), at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia July 3, 2013. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS MARITIME BUSINESS) - RTX11BE4

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff firmly denied on Saturday any plans to shake up her Cabinet, following the country’s largest protests in 20 years.

In a written statement, she called talk of ministerial change “unfounded speculation” and reiterated a plan developed with state governors and local mayors to address concerns raised last month in cities across Latin America’s largest economy.

More than 1 million people took to the streets at the peak of the demonstrations, which were fueled by frustration with deplorable health, education and public transportation services, a high cost of living, and outrage at the $14 billion Brazil will spend to host the 2014 World Cup.

In response, Rousseff, a pragmatic leftist who was once jailed for conspiring against Brazil’s military dictatorship, laid out proposals to expand public services while ensuring fiscal responsibility, crack down on corruption and hold a non-binding national vote, or plebiscite, to see what other changes Brazilians wanted.

But many doubt she can deliver on the plebiscite before presidential election next year. The latest survey by pollster Datafolha showed her approval ratings fell by 27 percentage points in three weeks, a sign the wave of discontent poses a serious threat to her likely re-election bid.

A presidential spokesman told Reuters on June 25 that Rousseff would stand by Finance Minister Guido Mantega, who has been in office for more than seven years, denying rumors he would take the fall after the protests.

Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; editing by Gunna Dickson

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