News / Americas

Brazil's Rousseff Calls off State Visit to US Over Spying

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff gestures during a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Sept. 17, 2013.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff gestures during a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Sept. 17, 2013.
Reuters
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has called off plans for a state visit to Washington in October because of revelations that the United States spied on her personal communications and those of other Brazilians.

Rousseff's decision, which came despite a 20-minute telephone call from President Barack Obama on Monday night in an attempt to salvage the trip, is a big blow to relations between the two biggest economies in the Americas.

Both the White House and Rousseff's office billed the decision as a mutually agreed postponement, and said a state visit could take place at an unspecified later date. However, two officials with knowledge of Rousseff's decision told Reuters that such a visit was unlikely to happen anytime soon.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the presidents agreed on the phone the disclosures of alleged U.S. intelligence activities could overshadow their meeting so they decided it would be best to postpone. But U.S. moves to address the surveillance complaints may take months.

“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.

Ties between Brazil and the United States had been improving steadily since Rousseff took office in 2011 and before the revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency had snooped on emails, text messages and calls between the president and her aides. The spying revelations came from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“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 Brazilian government said in a statement.

In the absence of explanations and a “commitment to cease such surveillance activities, the conditions are not in place for the visit to go ahead as previously scheduled,” it said.

U.S. officials said the NSA surveillance was aimed at tracking suspected terrorist activity and did not pry into personal communications, but Rousseff was not convinced.

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.

Political firestorm

The spying revelations sparked a political uproar in Brazil that Rousseff could not ignore. A senior government official told Reuters that Rousseff's top advisers, including her mentor and predecessor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, encouraged her to scrap the state visit.

The issue is not likely to go away soon in a country that has long harbored suspicions that the United States wants to control its rich mineral resources in the Amazon basin and off its Atlantic coast, where Brazil has made the world's largest oil deep-water discoveries in decades.

Brazil's Congress has opened an investigation and on Tuesday questioned oil industry regulator Magda Chambriard on whether NSA spying could have given U.S. companies the edge in bidding for offshore production rights to be auctioned next month.

The committee also wants to send members to Moscow to interview Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum by Russia.

The decision to cancel the visit to Washington will add tensions to the U.S.-Brazilian relations and increase risks for U.S. companies operating in sensitive sectors in Brazil, the Eurasia consultancy in Washington said in a note to clients.

This mainly affects the defense, telecom and energy sectors, and Boeing's chances of securing the jet fighter contract will be “significantly reduced,” Eurasia's analysts said.

“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.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Obama: US to Continue Push for Democracy, Rights in Cuba

A White House statement said although past US policy toward Cuba is 'rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect'
More

US-Cuba Move Ends Decades of Island's Isolation

Cuban revolution, outreach to Soviets set off years of antipathy between Washington, Havana
More

Colombia's FARC Rebels Declare Conditional Unlimited Ceasefire

Group says it is also demanding high-profile certification of its ceasefire through the UN, Red Cross or regional intergovernmental organization
More

American Lawmakers, Others Split on US-Cuba Moves

Some praise approach; Florida Senator Rubio denounces ‘victory for oppressive Cuban government’
More

An Elated Alan Gross: 'It's Good to be Home'

'This is a game changer,' newly-freed political prisoner tells audience, referring to his release and the US policy shift toward Cuba
More

Over $6 Trillion Lost to Illicit Flows

Study says developing nations hurt by corruption, tax evasion
More