Brazil’s future president Dilma Rousseff promises press freedom

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  • November 1, 2010

By Maira Magro

In her acceptance speech in Brasília, President-elect Dilma Rousseff highlighted the role of the press and promised that her future government would guarantee freedom of expression.

The issue had been controversial during the elections. Some supporters of Rousseff's leftist Workers' Party had said major news organizations were acting as an opposition party, intent on blocking her win. Rousseff has said she was troubled by some news reports during the campaign: “I don’t deny that sometimes (the media) spread things that left me sad,” she said. “But we are lovers of freedom.” (See the video of her speech.)

The 62-year-old economist is the first woman elected president of Brazil. She won 56% of the votes in Sunday’s runoff election; her competitor, Sen. José Serra, obtained 44%. In a speech after his defeat, Serra thanked everyone who had supported him, “including on Twitter,”

Her victory was widely covered by the foreign press. The New York Times highlighted the “ growing wave of democratically elected female leaders in the region and the world in the past five years.” Britain’s The Guardian referred to Rousseff’s past as “ a former Marxist rebel who was jailed and tortured during Brazil's military dictatorship.” Argentina’s La Nación newspaper predicted she would play an active role in Latin American policies.

Rousseff’s Bulgarian heritage has been the topic of several articles in Brazilian media. (She was born in Brazil, but her father is Bulgarian.) In Bulgária, where Rousseff has unleashed "Dilma fever," the press highlighted the victory of a “Bulgarian to lead the seventh largest economy in the world.”

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.