Brazil's retort: Its leader snubs Obama over NSA spying

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Brazil's anger over National Security Agency spying on its officials and oil company Petrobras prompted President Dilma Rousseff to cancel her October state visit to the United States.

Classified information released by ex-NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden revealed that the agency was not only spying on Americans but also monitoring the phone calls and emails of leaders of nations such as Brazil, Germany, Mexico and others.

Mexico, probably aware that U.S. attention to its drug problems likely included NSA spying, hasn't seemed too bothered. In Germany, America's spying became an issue in advance of Sunday's elections. Brazil hit the roof, particularly at the NSA's snooping on Petrobras, a rival of U.S. oil firms.

Brazil's fury was magnified as information also emerged that the United States shares the data collected by the NSA with other countries. The result was that on Tuesday Brazil canceled Ms. Rousseff's visit.

The strong diplomatic move was similar to President Barack Obama's cancellation of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, which was set to precede the G-20 summit Sept. 5-6 in St. Petersburg, in anger at Russia's refuge for Mr. Snowden from U.S. retaliation for his leaks.

Other reasons may exist for Brazil's canceling the U.S. visit. A meeting with Mr. Obama and the usual public exchanges of admiration are of less value than they used to be, particularly as he threatens an attack on Syria. For Brazil to show support for the initiative to defuse Syria's chemical weapons, Ms. Rousseff would also need to meet with Mr. Putin. Brazil also wants U.S. support for its bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat, which it has not received.

Brazil is seeking to establish its own credentials as the most important country in Latin America, and not particularly to burnish a close relationship with the United States. In that sense, canceling the Washington visit made Brazil's point about American spying, without being very costly to it.

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