US Spying on Latin America Is a Matter of Transgression

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called the U.S. spying on her country and numerous other Latin American countries a “violation of sovereignty and human rights.”

For that reason, her government asked for explanations about this act and, after not receiving any, decided to cancel this week’s official visit to Washington scheduled for Oct. 23. “Illegal surveillance practices intercepting the communication and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government constitute a serious affront to national sovereignty and individual rights, and are incompatible with democratic cooperation between friendly nations,” recounted a report from the Planalto Palace.

What is certain is that Brazil is one of many countries being watched by the U.S. spying network.

According to ex-National Security Agency (NSA) technician Edward J. Snowden, Washington intercepted a large part of Latin American communications. Snowden’s leaks, which also gave details about U.S. spying on European allies and turned everything into a worldwide scandal, only confirmed what long ago Latin American leaders had denounced.

“More than revelations, these are confirmations of what we thought what was happening,” Argentine President Cristina Fernández stressed in the wake of hearing this information.

A few years earlier, the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa publicly declared that behind the coup and destabilizing events that occurred in those countries was the hand of Washington, also with its spying network.

The control of information by the U.S. in other Latin American countries extended to those which chose a different political model, such as Venezuela; however, even its great allies, such as Colombia, have been a target of stalking. A general malaise was caused by these acts by the U.S. government, with its vast communications surveillance network, for the obvious violation of international rights and the Latin American sovereignty.

Within this scope is the fact that, as soon as the affected countries knew about the meddling, they asked for explanations from Barack Obama’s administration, discussed the issue of regional integration mechanisms and decided to take it to the U.N. General Assembly.

“We do not agree at all with interference of this kind, not just in Brazil but in any other country,” said the Brazilian president. Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile, Peru and El Salvador have also been caught in the tentacles of the NSA’s spying program.

What objectives does the U.S. have for such acts in this region, which is considered peaceful, even including its friends?

According to Snowden’s information, which was given to reporter Glenn Greenwald and then brought to light in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, the NSA gathered military and security information from some countries. This included information about commercial companies, Venezuela’s state oil and petroleum and energy sources in Mexico.

Operations to usurp information were done through phone calls and data access on Internet servers introduced in companies like Google, Facebook and Skype.

The largest oil reserve in the world is found on the subcontinent, and there are abundant water, gas and mineral resources and a rich biodiversity. From a geostrategic point of view it [Brazil] borders the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean Sea to the north, from which some of the control interests are inferred.

“There are documents that indicate that one of the subjects most spied on in Mexico was energy and petroleum,” Greenwald affirmed. Similarly, the president of Brazilian oil company Petrobras, Grasa Foster, admitted to the possibility that the company was the subject of cyberattacks intercepting information.

For Obama, the objective is to fight against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in favor of cybersecurity and national security.

This discourse doesn’t convince Latin America; in addition to complaints about various scenarios against this approach, the region checks its intelligence services in order to avoid interference from the U.S.

Even within the U.S., several companies started a campaign called “Stop Watching Us” against the secret spying program.

Snowden assures that for Washington, “Not knowing everything about everyone is an existential crisis, then you feel that bending the rules is okay. Once people hate you for bending those rules, breaking them becomes a matter of survival.”

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