President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil at UN delivers Stinging Rebuke to Obama on NSA Spying (Lazare)

Reuters reports on President Roussef’s speech condemning US spying on her country and on her personally:

Sarah Lazare writes at Commondreams:

In a furious critique that opened the UN's General Assembly meeting Tuesday immediately before President Obama took the podium, Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff blasted U.S. secret surveillance programs for violating her country's national sovereignty, attacking its democracy, and infringing on the human rights of its citizens.

"In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy," she declared in her strongest statements yet in the fallout following revelations that the NSA had directly spied on Rousseff. "In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations."

"Tampering in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and, as such, it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations," she charged.

"The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country," Rousseff continued.

Rousseff scoffed at efforts by the U.S. government to justify broad NSA spying as a vital protection against terrorism: "The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained."

She demanded international legal norms for protecting Brazil and other nations against these violations of privacy and reiterated her commitment to protecting domestic communications networks from U.S. interception by storing Brazilian data locally. "The time is ripe to create the conditions to prevent cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war, through espionage, sabotage and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries," she said.

Her statements come after she canceled a trip to the U.S. last week over the NSA spying revelations in a rare diplomatic rift between two close allies.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald writing for Brazilian paper Journo O Globo revealed in early September that the NSA had used its powers to directly intercept the communications of Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

In his speech immediately following Rousseff's, President Obama did not directly acknowledge Rousseff's criticisms.


(Mirrored from


The USG Open Source Center translates two contextual pieces from the Brazilian press on President Rousseff’s cancellation of her planned meeting with President Obama this fall over the NSA spying on her personally. It also appears that as a result of the spying, Brazil will not go forward with purchase of US fighter-planes.

President Rousseff Sought Support Abroad Prior to US Visit Cancelation —

On 23 September Claudio Dantas Sequeira considers in Sao Paulo ISTO E consequences and repercussions of President Dilma Rousseff’s decision to seek international support especially from Russia prior to cancelling her US state visit. (The OSC is processing this item. LAR2013092355696739) Rousseff also checked in with former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Joao Santana, her election campaign marketing guru. Russia’s foreign minister is reported as having committed to support any Brazilian retaliation on the United States due to electronic media surveillance allegations. When she addresses the UN General Assembly’s opening meeting Rousseff will call for a new Internet governance mechanism designed to prevent invasion of privacy. Rousseff will also underscore the need for the United Nations to play a role in seeking negotiated solutions to any global crisis. The article points out that the surveillance imbroglio will make a purchase of US fighter jets unlikely. Defense Minister Amorim Views Vulnerability to Cyber Attacks —

On 22 September Tereza Cruvinel and Leonardo Cavalcanti interview Defense Minister Celso Amorim for Brasilia Correio Braziliense. Amorim outlines concern with Brazil’s vulnerability to cyber attacks as exposed by recent reports of US electronic surveillance targeting the country, and dependency on foreign technology. The country must focus on updated technological development, he argues. Foreign technology holds Brazil hostage and will continue to do so for some time. The minister also expresses concern with the sluggish procedure related to a fighter jet purchase. Amorim outlines Brazil’s border security efforts and development of cyber defense hand in hand with Argentina.

It is also worth reading the Speech of President Rousseff to the 67th UN General Assembly in 2012, last year: She then slammed Islamophobia, pointed out that Brazil has a stake in peace in Syria given that it has millions of citizens of Syrian descent, and some of them are Muslim. (The number of Muslims in Brazil, pop. 180 million, is unknown, but some sources estimate it as 1 million; these would be mostly Syro-Lebanese in origin). She supported the Palestinians’ right to be recognized as a state by the UN.

8 Responses

  1. So,
    does President Rousseff want the CIA to cut off payments to Brazilian government officials, as they also infringe sovereignty ?
    ALL such officials ?

  2. There was not one sentence about this reported in the major daily newspaper for this metropolitan area. Not even a small paragraph ona back page.

    • The Washington Post gave it full coverage with a bold lead-in: “Brazilian Leader Slams U.S. Over NSA Eavesdropping Program.”

  3. One major raison d’etre for the United Nations is to provide a platform for world leaders to both advance their agendas and vent frustrations publicly in a carefully choreographed political ballet. It is usually designed for maximum effect on the home audience as well as both proponents and opponents in the international community.

    Thus it was with Dilma Rousseff’s UN speech. No doubt she opposes the alleged NSA surveillance activity in Brazil, but she was equally playing to her Brazilian constituents, as her stock has plummeted in the polls. There have been mass demonstrations against her administration during the past couple of months, and using the US as a foil is a tried and true tactic in Latin America to divert the public’s displeasure from its own government’s activities to that of the US.

    Nevertheless, like her cancellation of the state visit to Washington, Rousseff’s UN speech will create only a ripple on the surface of what is a much deeper relationship between Brazil and the United States. It will no more be allowed to disrupt the US-Brazilian relationship than Obama’s cancellation of the September summit with Vladimir Putin will be allowed to disrupt the US-Russian relationship. These displays or pique are as much about showmanship as they are about substance, probably more so.

    • The demonstration were not against her government, even though there were some last hour protesters that came together against her. The protest were against the public transport’s Mafia manly and some others were against the world cup in Brazil.

      This Role-play you mention is only due the the power of the USA. Can you imagine what wold it be with the Iran were Spying Brazil’s president? The USA it self would have suggested a war solution against that.

  4. The US’s empire project was always about control, never about empire. Ask the Hawaiian Islanders whose neutral, peaceful, free, open democracy was invaded and occupied in 1893 and replaced by American supported sugar oligarchs.

  5. I follow the news closely, and here in Australia there has been barely a word to be read or heard in the MSM about the NSA or Australia’s role or the Rousseff speech.

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