Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dilma Rousseff does the unthinkable in Brazil

The Associated Press calls her election "a feat that was nearly unthinkable a year ago."

But here she is, Dilma Rousseff, 63, the first woman to serve as Brazil's president -- the country's 36th president, to be exact.

She succeeds Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who left office at the end of his term limit. He was the nation's most popular president with an 87% approval rating.

And Brazil's economy is going strong with record-low unemployment and a currency that has more than doubled against the U.S. dollar.

Once on the brink of default, Brazil is predicted to be the world's fifth largest economy by the time it hosts the 2016 Olympic games -- that's only five years away.

But Rousseff says there's still work to do.

"There is still poverty that shaming our country," she says. "I will not rest while there are Brazilians without food on their table, homeles in the streets and poor children abandoned to their luck."

Rousseff was part of an armed rebel group for three years. She was arrested in 1970 and spent three years in jail where she endured brutal torture.

Known for her "tough demeanor," Rousseff will be one to watch in the coming year.

Left: Rousseff with President Obama in 2009.

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