News / Americas

South American Bloc Repudiates US on Spying, Snowden

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez (L, foreground) participates in a working breakfast with her counterparts of the Mercosur trade bloc and special guests summit in Montevideo, Uruguay, July 12, 2013.
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez (L, foreground) participates in a working breakfast with her counterparts of the Mercosur trade bloc and special guests summit in Montevideo, Uruguay, July 12, 2013.
Reuters
— South American leaders had strong words for Washington on Friday over allegations of U.S. spying in the region and defended their right to offer asylum to fugitive former U.S spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
 
Washington wants Snowden arrested on espionage charges after he divulged extensive, secret U.S. surveillance programs. Stuck in the transit area of Moscow's international airport since late June, he is seeking asylum in various countries.
 
Capping two weeks of strained North-South relations over the Snowden saga, presidents from the Mercosur bloc of nations met in Montevideo. Complaints against the United States were high on the agenda, as Washington warned the international community not to help the 30-year-old Snowden get away.
 
“We repudiate any action aimed at undermining the authority of countries to grant and fully implement the right of asylum,” Mercosur said in a statement at the close of Friday's summit.
 
The statement called for “solidarity with the governments of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which have offered to grant asylum to Mr. Edward Snowden.”
 
The Mercosur bloc comprises Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina,
 Uruguay and Paraguay.
 
“This global espionage case has shaken the conscience of the people of the United States and has upset the world,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said.
 
The meeting began as reports emerged that Snowden wants to travel eventually to Latin America after seeking temporary asylum in Russia.
 
The U.S.-Russian relationship would be troubled if Moscow were to accept an asylum request from Snowden, the U.S. State Department said. President Barack Obama raised U.S. concerns directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
 
Spying allegations
 
Leaders throughout Latin America are also furious over reports the U.S. National Security Agency targeted most Latin American countries with spying programs that monitored Internet traffic, especially in Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico.
 
In its statement, Mercosur said, “We emphatically reject the
 interception of  telecommunications and espionage activities in our countries, as they are a violation of human rights and citizens' right to privacy and information.”
 
It also called for the spy scandal to be brought before the U.N. Security Council.
 
The espionage allegations were published by a leading Brazilian newspaper, O Globo, on Tuesday. The U.S. ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, said this week the reports gave an incorrect picture of U.S. data gathering.
 
“This is the world we live in; a world with new forms of colonialism,” Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said in her closing remarks in Montevideo. “It is more subtle than it was two centuries ago, when they came with armies to take our silver and gold.”
 
Colombia, Washington's closest military ally in Latin America, and Mexico, its top business partner, have also joined the chorus of governments seeking answers.
 
“Any act of espionage that violates human rights, above all the basic right to privacy, and undermines the sovereignty of nations, deserves to be condemned by any country that calls itself democratic, “ Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told reporters on arrival at the meeting.
 
Rousseff, who was imprisoned under military rule in Brazil in the early 1970s, said the rights issue was particularly important for South American countries that lived under dictatorships for years and are now democracies.
 
Asylum concerns
 
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay made her first comment on the Snowden case on Friday, saying people needed to be sure their communications were not being unduly scrutinized and calling on all countries to respect the right to seek asylum.
 
Snowden said in a letter posted on Friday on the Facebook page of the New-York based Human Rights Watch that the United States had been pressuring countries not to accept him. Obama has warned of serious costs to any country that takes him in.
 
Despite their fiery rhetoric and public offers of asylum, few in Latin America seem particularly keen to welcome Snowden and risk damaging trade and economic ties with Washington.
 
Cuba and Venezuela are both in a cautious rapprochement with the United States that could be jeopardized if they helped Snowden.
 
Still, leaders recalled that many of their own citizens sought asylum abroad during the military dictatorships of the Cold War era.
 
South American leaders rallied in support of Bolivian President Evo Morales last week after he said he was denied access to the airspace of Portugal, France, Italy and Spain on suspicion Snowden might be on board his plane as Morales flew home from a visit to Russia.
 
Bolivia is an associate member of Mercosur, and Morales attended Friday's meeting. The Mercosur statement said bloc member countries would call their ambassadors in from the four European countries for consultations.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surge

Inaccurate claims suggest US will give amnesty to young migrants
More

US Disappointed in Netherlands' Release of Drug Trafficking Suspect

State Department spokesman says legitimate request made for Hugo Carvajal’s arrest under extradition treaty between US, Netherlands and Aruba
More

UN Panel Meets on Global Aging

HelpAge presents nearly 300,000 signatures calling for UN Treaty
More

Video Clock Ticking for Congress to Act on US Border Crisis

This week is lawmakers’ last chance before recess to respond to surge of undocumented children arriving at America’s southern frontier
More

US Considers Screening Youth in Honduras for Refugee Status

Officials say children could be interviewed before they make dangerous journey to US border, as tens of thousands of children from Central America have done already this year
More

Video President Asks Central American Leaders to Help Stop Migrants

Obama tells presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras it isn't lack of compassion, but obligation to obey immigration laws that is prompting US to turn back many migrants
More