Moral Low Ground


Brazil’s Rousseff Cancels US Visit Over NSA Spying Scandal

Rousseff and Obama at the White House during more cordial times. (Photo: Roberto Stuckert)

Rousseff and Obama at the White House during more cordial times. (Photo: Roberto Stuckert)

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has announced the cancellation of a planned trip to the United States in reaction to revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on her personal communications, as well as Brazil’s state oil company.

Reuters reports Rousseff made her decision after a 20-minute Monday night phone call from US President Barack Obama, who attempted to salvage her planned visit. Relations between the two largest economies in the Western Hemisphere had been improving prior to revelations by former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is currently living in Russia after being granted temporary political asylum, that the NSA spied on Rousseff’s personal communications, as well as those of other Brazilians and the computer network of Petrobras, the state-run oil giant.

In the wake of Snowden’s revelations, Rousseff stated that her planned US visit depended on the “political conditions created by President Obama.” Apparently dissatisfied with Obama’s explanation of the NSA spying scandal, the Brazilian government released a statement declaring that “the conditions are not in place for a visit to go ahead as previously scheduled.”

“The illegal interceptions of communications and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government represents a serious act which violates national sovereignty and is incompatible with democratic coexistence between friendly countries,” the statement added.

Rousseff had expressed particular alarm over the targeting of Petrobras.

“The motive for spying attempts is not security or the war on terrorism, but strategic economic interests,” Rousseff, a former Marxist rebel who was imprisoned and tortured by a US-backed military regime in the early 1970s, said after learning of Snowden’s revelations.

The US government has denied allegations of corporate espionage targeting Petrobras.

The White House responded to Rousseff’s cancellation by expressing optimism that she and Obama would meet at some future date after the two nations worked through the current impasse.

“They both look forward to that visit, which will celebrate our broad relationship,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, Deutsche Welle reports. “We’re certainly acknowledging the concerns that these disclosures have generated in Brazil and in other countries.”

The rift between Brasília and Washington threatens to sink a planned $5 billion weapons deal in which US-based weapons giant Boeing planned to sell F-18 fighter jets to Brazil.

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