Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed a planned state visit to the U.S. amid allegations of surveillance by U.S. intelligence.
“Given the proximity of the scheduled state visit to Washington and in the absence of a timely investigation … there aren't conditions for this trip to be made,” according to a statement issued by Rousseff's office today.
“Illegal surveillance practices intercepting the communication and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government constitute a serious affront to national sovereignty and individual rights, and are incompatible with democratic cooperation between friendly nations,” the letter also mentioned.
White House spokesman Jay Carney replied by claiming that the postponement was a move mutually agreed upon by Rousseff and her U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama.
The decision was reportedly reached despite a twenty-minute phone call from Obama to Rousseff on Monday night in an attempt to salvage the trip that was scheduled for October 23rd.
“As the President previously stated, he has directed a broad review of U.S. intelligence posture, but the process will take several months to complete,” Carney said.
Brazilian officials have not masked their ire over the accusations of spying, which were supposedly obtained from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The allegations that have been reported by Brazilian TV over the past two months included:
- a “data-collection base” run by the National Security Agency (NSA) that gathered information from telephone calls and e-mails of Brazilian residents and companies.
- NSA monitoring of communications between Rousseff’s aides and employing software to access all Internet content that Rousseff visited online.
- NSA infiltration of the private networks of several firms including Brazil’s state-run Petrobras oil company.
Rousseff hinted on September 6th that she would go along with the state trip after she met with Obama during the G-20 summit in Russia and he supposedly had taken responsibility for the NSA spying accusations. But according to the communiqué issued by her office, the absence of explanations from the U.S. government and a “commitment to cease such surveillance activities, the conditions are not in place for the visit to go ahead as previously scheduled.”
The Brazilian government left the door open to the possibility of the visit to be rescheduled yet the postponement might hurt ties between the U.S. and one of its main economic allies in Latin America:
The trip was expected to be a platform for deals on oil exploration and biofuels technology, and Brazil's potential purchase of fighter jets from Chicago-based Boeing Co.
A defense contract worth more than $4 billion that Boeing is seeking for the sale of 36 F-18 fighter jets to the Brazilian Air Force could be the main victim of the spying affair. Brazilian officials have said Brazil cannot buy such strategic aircraft from a country it cannot trust…
"In the energy sector, there will certainly be a political firestorm if an American company wins the (subsalt) bid round in October," Eurasia said, referring to the deep sea oil deposits that sit beneath a thick layer of salt under the ocean floor.The decision to postpone Rousseff’s trip comes hours after newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Liliana Ayalde arrived in Brasilia and told reporters “I’m sure that together, we can expand and deepen the ties that exist between our two important nations.”
This month, Brazil began changing its communications infrastructure with the aim of protecting information privacy. Moreover, the foreign ministers of Brazil and Argentina are expected to meet later this week and negotiate a possible bilateral cybersecurity deal.
Video Source– YouTube via NTDTV (Earlier this month “Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo summoned then-U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon for answers on new NSA spying allegations based on Snowden leaks”.)
Online Sources – O Globo; Time.com; Bloomberg; The Latin Americanist; The Guardian; Reuters