SAO PAULO, Brazil With cities across the nation heaving in the biggest protests in decades, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil convened an emergency meeting of top aides Friday and announced that she would pursue measures touching on some of the grievances stirring the unrest, including a national transportation overhaul and use of all oil royalties for education.
But Rousseff's ability to enact use of oil revenues to improve public schools is in doubt. She has floated the idea previously, only to run up against stiff resistance from state governors who rely on the money to meet their budgets.
Her pledge came as the government put forward other small measures as well, such as injecting new money to bolster transportation and pledging to better scrutinize financial corruption within its ranks.
"Brazil fought a lot to become a democratic country, and it is fighting a lot to become a country that is more just," Rousseff said.
In a show of resolve, she and other authorities also lashed out at the growing violence among some of the protesters, denouncing recent attacks on government buildings, acknowledging their concerns about security ahead of a visit by the pope, and, in at least one case, threatening to deploy the army to the streets if the demonstrations continue to intensify.
"I assure you, we will maintain order," Rousseff said.
More than 1 million people protested across the country Thursday night to excoriate the government on a broad array of issues, including political corruption, the high cost of living and the billions of dollars being devoted to building stadiums for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in a country where poverty is pervasive and public education is often in shambles.
But while most of the protesters have vented their frustrations peacefully even joyfully at times, singing and celebrating what they call a mass awakening across the country a violent subset has stormed public buildings and set fires, smashing storefronts, bus shelters, traffic lights and some ATMs.
In Rio de Janeiro, José Mariano Beltrame, the official in charge of security policies, said that if the unrest intensifies, the army could be asked to increase patrols in various parts of the city to "protect the integrity of people and of public and private and public property."
The concern over the violent turn among protesters was enough that Gilberto Carvalho, a top aide to Rousseff, acknowledged it could affect Pope Francis' scheduled visit to Brazil in July.
"We have a series of complications and concerns," Carvalho told reporters in the capital, Brasilia. "The situation is evolving so fast that we can't predict what will happen."
Protests continued to shake cities around the country Friday. In Sao Paulo, the nation's largest city, protesters blocked roads leading to the airport and thousands rallied at a downtown plaza to protest a measure backed by conservative legislators, known as the gay cure, that would allow psychologists to treat homosexuality as a form of mental illness.
The protests continued even though one of the main groups that had been behind the original demonstrations here said it would not call for any more marches in Sao Paulo. The group indicated that it had won the concessions on bus fares it had demanded and that it was concerned that some members of allied groups, such as left-wing political parties or social movements, had been singled out and beaten at the demonstrations.
"We won the fight, so we are going to take time to think about what to do next," said Rafael Siqueira, a member of the group, Passe Livre, which had pushed for the rollback of a bus fare increase.
As the protests continued, the national development bank, known as BNDES, announced that it had approved more than $1 billion in loans to expand the metro system in Sao Paulo.
In Brasilia, the Finance Ministry said it had created an inspector to review allegations of corruption, one of the main issues that has driven countless thousands to the streets in recent days.
Many protesters said the measures fell far short of what was needed, however.
"They have been promising lots of things for many years but it doesn't go beyond that," said Jeniffer Novaez, 18, a physical therapist.
"I don't know if they understand what is really happening here, but it's been many years and we are thirsty.
"We want everything, and we want it now."