Brazil's new leader Dilma Rousseff pledged Wednesday to make the fight against poverty a focus of her presidency, and called on the country's lawmakers for their support.
"I will fight strongly to eradicate poverty in the country," Rousseff said during the first session of parliament since her victory in October elections.
She stressed that Brazil's strong economic growth was helping to raise living standards for all, but noted that it was nonetheless "shameful" that "in a country that produces millions of tons of grain there are still people who suffer from hunger."
Rousseff, who succeeded popular president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on January 1, noted that the strengthening of democracy in Brazil "has opened a promising horizon for social justice, reducing inequality in all its forms."
She also urged the legislature to work "hand in hand" with the executive to advance reform of the political system that has dragged on for more than a decade.
Her address to lawmakers picked up where she left off in her victory speech in October, when she spoke of her "fundamental promise: the eradication of poverty."
During her campaign she pledged to maintain the policies of her mentor Lula, whose center-left government's initiatives included Bolsa Familia, a regular welfare payment conditional on children being schooled and vaccinated.
It and other handouts have helped lift 29 million Brazilians out of poverty, swelling the country's middle class that for the first time in history accounts for more than half of Brazil's 193-million-strong population.© ANP/AFP