Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brazil: Update--President Dilma Rousseff Postpones State Visit to US Over NSA Spying, Intercepts

According to EFE, President Dilma Rousseff said Tuesday (September 17) that she decided to postpone a state visit to Washington set for next month pending a satisfactory US response to revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on her.

US President Barack Obama agreed with the decision to delay the visit, Rousseff’s office said in a statement.

“The illegal practices of intercepting the communications and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government constitute a grave act that jeopardizes national sovereignty and individual rights and is incompatible with democratic coexistence between friendly nations,” the statement said.

In the absence of explanations and a commitment from the United States to halt the intercepts, “the conditions are not in place” for what would have been the first state visit to Washington by a Brazilian head of state since 1995.

COMMENT: The fact that a Brazilian president has not visited Washington on a state visit in nearly 20 years is alarming in and of itself, and begs the question as to why the head of state of Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, has not been asked to visit the US president, particularly given Brazil's incredible political and economic clout.

The announcement of the postponement came a day after Presidents Rousseff and Obama had a 20-minute telephone conversation Brazilian officials described as cordial.

NSA intercepted telephone calls and e-mails of Rousseff and Mexican leader Enrique Peña Nieto, Brazil’s TV Globo reported September 2, citing documents from whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

A week later, Globo aired a story revealing NSA surveillance of Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, prompting Rousseff’s government to lodge a second formal complaint with Washington.

It is this author's opinion that if President Rousseff's state visit to Washington does not occur in October, it will be deferred until 2014, which will be code for a "significant rife."