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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Pope Beatifies Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop

Hundreds of thousands of worshippers converge on Salvadoran capital to witness papal declaration for late Oscar Romero - now one step from Roman Catholic sainthood
More

Scores Killed in Western Mexico Gunfight

Officials say almost every person killed in Michoacan state shootout was a suspected gang member
More

Latest US-Cuban Talks Ends in Washington

Both sides cite progress on restoring diplomatic ties, but no final agreement reached
More

Tutu Lends Support to Age Campaign

Help Age International has launched Action 2015 campaign
More

Colombia Kills 18 FARC Rebels

The bombing raid took place in the Cauca region of western Colombia
More

Lawmakers Question Normalization Effort With Cuba

On eve of next round of US-Cuba talks, Senator Bob Menendez calls engagement 'one-sided'
More