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By Maria Lopez Conde, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – In her opening speech at the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, President Dilma Rousseff, as expected, took the opportunity to criticize the United States’ spying program in Brazil, and announced her intention to protect the country from further unwelcome surveillance.

President Dilma Rousseff criticized the United States' espionage program during her opening speech at the United Nations' 68th Assembly, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/ABr.
President Dilma Rousseff criticized the United States’ espionage program during her opening speech at the United Nations’ 68th Assembly, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/ABr.

The speech came just one week after Rousseff decided to postpone her October 23rd state visit to the United States in the wake of the fallout from the revelations that included allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored Brazil’s state-controlled Petrobras, Rousseff’s inner circle of advisers as well as the President herself. Her decision, billed as a mutual agreement by both parties, was seen as a major blow to U.S.-Brazil relations and an effort to strengthen her popularity at home as she prepares for next year’s election.

Rousseff used her speech at the United Nations to rail against the NSA’s spying, deeming it an issue of utmost “relevance and gravity” to the international community.

“Meddling 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,” Rousseff said at the annual gathering in New York. “Never should the right to safety of the citizens in one country be guaranteed through the violation of fundamental human and civil rights of the citizens of another country.”

Rousseff also dismissed the argument that the surveillance program is key to the United States’ national security goals. In the past, the United States – including Secretary of State John Kerry – has defended the spying as part of the country’s post 9/11 anti-terrorism initiatives.

Rousseff Denounces U.S. Espionage at U.N., Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Rousseff’s decision to cancel her state visit dealt a major blow to U.S.-Brazil relations, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/ABr.

“Brazil, Mr. President, knows how to protect itself. Brazil, Mr. President, repudiates, combats and does not harbor terrorist groups,” Rousseff continued.

“We are, Mr. President, facing a grave case of violation of human rights and civil liberties, of invasion and capture of secret information related to business activities and overall, disrespect to the national sovereignty of my country.”

President Rousseff also used her speech to introduce new legislation that would protect Brazilian telecommunication from further interceptions. Brazil would, she said, present a new framework governing worldwide internet usage that will protect the information and data that flows through the World Wide Web.

“Telecommunication and information technologies cannot become a new battlefield between states. This is the moment to create conditions to prevent cyberspace from becoming an instrument of war, through spying, sabotage and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries.”

A new law that would force foreign companies like Google to store data on Brazilian clients on Brazil-based servers is currently under discussion in Congress. The government also has plans to build its own underwater, transatlantic fiber-optic cable that will connect Brazilian internet users directly to Europe, circumventing U.S.-controlled portions of the net.

The U.S. spying allegations have sparked a wave of public outcry and anger in the upper echelons of the Brazilian government since they first emerged in July. News of the American-run surveillance program first came from NSA contractor turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden, by way of Glenn Greenwald, a Rio de Janeiro-based journalist.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. President Rousseff’s remarks are amusing, if nothing else. Here’s the irony:

    It is not the NSA that treats Petrobras like her personal piggy-bank, no that would be Dilma’s cronies in the Brazilian government.

    They treat the common Brazilian man or woman in the street who is a legitimate owner of Petrobras, by virtue of their heritage, as some country rube “hillbilly” that can be pick-pocketed with impunity.

    They treat the foreign “gringo” shareholder, investor, trader worse still, for they have no way to redeem the subsidized gasoline which the Brazilian politicians like Rousseff compel Petrobras to dole out like party favors.

    Que trem de alegria que o NSA suportava, heim? Qual golpe contra o povo brasileiro comun?

    Obviamente, a resposta correta seja “NADA”.

  2. President Dilma Rousseff is pulling a typical political move in denouncing the NSA spying claims to deflect the attention of her governments failure in tackling the counties problems.
    She should get her own house in order and get rid of corruption which is hurting Brazil more than spying claims. She is upset for having her email hacked because her links to corruption are being exposed.

  3. I am Canadian and most Canadians are ashamed of the Conservative government ….no respect for no one.

    We Canadians are truly sorry about our government’s bad conduct to spy on a friend, the Brazilian people.

    We ae all waiting for the Canadian federal elections in 2015 to kick this bad government out and restore Canada’s past history of good relations with Brazil.

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