BRASILIA, Brazil —
She'd been widely criticized for being all but invisible amid the protests and failing to engage with the people who were demanding her government's attention.
Edvaldo Chaves, a 61-year-old doorman in Rio's upscale Flamengo neighborhood, said he found Friday's speech convincing.
"I thought she seemed calm and cool. Plus, because she was a guerrilla and was in exile, she talks about the issue of protests convincingly," Chaves said. "I think things are going to calm down. We'll probably keep seeing people in the streets but probably small numbers now."
But Bruna Romao, an 18-year-old store clerk in Sao Paulo, said Rousseff's words probably wouldn't have an impact.
"Brazilians are passionate," she said. "We boil over quickly but also cool down fast. But this time it's different, people are in full revolt. I don't see things calming down anytime soon."
Trying to decipher the president's reaction to the unrest had become a national guessing game, especially after some 1 million anti-government demonstrators took to the streets nationwide Thursday night to denounce everything from poor public services to the billions of dollars spent preparing for next year's World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
The protests continued Friday, as about 1,000 people marched in western Rio de Janeiro city, with some looting stores and invading an enormous $250 million arts center that remains empty after several years of construction. Police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas as they were pelted with rocks. Police said some in the crowd were armed and firing at officers.
Local radio was also reporting that protesters were heading to the apartment of Rio state Gov. Sergio Cabral in the posh Rio neighborhood of Ipanema.