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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

ExxonMobil Set to Begin Drilling Off Guyana

Project could turn up the heat under a long-running territorial row with neighboring Venezuela
More

Peru Indigenous Groups Settle US Court Claims with Occidental

Achuar communities alleged Occidental spilled oil and dumped toxic waste while operating country's biggest oil block, triggering widespread health problems
More

Petrobras Scandal Threatens Brazil's Political, Business Elite

Executives reportedly feeling inclined to cut plea bargains that would result in less jail time in return for disclosing graft scheme details
More

Tests Indicate Argentine Prosecutor Was Slain, Ex-Wife Says

Alberto Nisman, found dead days after accusing president of involvement in cover-up, didn't commit suicide, Sandra Arroyo Salgado says
More

Canadian Pastor Detained in North Korea

Hyeon Soo Lim arrived in North Korea in late January, went to Pyongyang on a humanitarian mission and hasn't been heard from since
More

Colombia Generals Join Rebel Leaders for Peace Talks

Colombia's President Santos long resisted FARC calls for bilateral ceasefire, but since his re-election last year, he has injected urgency into negotiations
More