Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mexico, Brazil Seek Answers Over U.S. Spying Claims

The governments of Mexico and Brazil are each looking for answers from U.S. officials over new allegations of intelligence surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne, was summoned by the Mexican government to explain the supposed spying of President Enrique Peña Nieto during his campaign for the presidency.

“The Mexican government requested via a diplomatic later that the U.S. government undergo a thorough investigation and, where appropriate, identify those responsible” behind the surveillance, according to a statement from the Mexican foreign minister (SRE in Spanish).

The SRE communiqué also reportedly mentioned that the Mexican government doesn’t prejudge the surveillance allegations but “rejects and categorically condemns any spying of citizens from that country as a violation of international law”.

On Sunday, Brazilian TV network O Globe aired a report where journalist Glen Greenwald divulged several secret documents obtained from former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.  Some of those papers detailed then-candidate Peña Nieto’s campaign actions weeks before the election including his potential cabinet choices.

The O Globo report also accused the NSA of examining communications between aides of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff as well as the use of software to access all internet content that Rousseff visited online.

Another NSA document on U.S. geopolitical challenges through 2019 named Mexico and described Brazil as a possible “stressor” to regional stability and a potential risk to U.S. interests.

Much like their Mexican counterparts, the Brazilian government also summoned the U.S. ambassador for consultations while Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo warned that if the papers are true then they “should be considered very serious and constitute a clear violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”

“This (spying) hits not only Brazil but the sovereignty of several countries, which could have been violated in a way totally contrary to what international law establishes,” said Cardozo who met last week with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and other officials regarding prior surveillance allegations.

On July 6, Brazilian newspaper O Globo revealed information from Snowden regarding “data mining programs” by the NSA against several Latin American countries.  Numerous leaders from the region were upset over the allegations including Rousseff who called for a probe looking into any Brazilian or foreign telecommunication firms that may have cooperated with U.S. intelligence agencies.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry justified NSA surveillance of Latin America at a trip to Colombia last month as needed for living in a “dangerous world…(that) is very different from the world we knew before” the 9/11 attacks.

The latest surveillance claims could hurt already frayed Brazil-U.S. relations and could jeopardize Rousseff’s planned official visit to Washington next month.  The rumors also come at an uneasy time between the U.S. and Mexico due to the recent unexpected release of former drug capo Rafael Caro Quintero.

The surveillance reports might also harm U.S. efforts to gather Latin American support for a possible military intervention in Syria. Diplomats from Argentina and Brazil advocated a military intervention in Syria only with approval from the U.N. Security Council.  Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, meanwhile, rejected any possibility of war with Syria and accused the U.S. of “preparing for a third world war because the crisis of capitalism has no escape.”
Video Sources– YouTube via euronews and telesurenglish

Online Sources - El Mañana de Nuevo Laredo; MercoPress; The Guardian; The Latin Americanist; Miami Herald; El Universal

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