Spy row leads Brazil leader to postpone US visit
By Yana Marull, AFPBRASILIA, Brazil--Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed a long-planned state visit to Washington on Tuesday, the most serious diplomatic fall-out yet from Edward Snowden's leak of U.S. secrets.
September 19, 2013, 12:25 am TWN
While both sides couched the cancellation in diplomatic terms, it marks an embarrassment for President Barack Obama and a blow to his efforts to improve ties with the key Latin American power.
The visit had been scheduled for October 23 but was called into question after documents leaked by Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence technician, revealed the extent of American spying on its Brazilian ally.
Obama has been trying to defuse the row, most recently during talks with Rousseff on the sidelines of this month's G20 summit, and he spoke with her again on Monday by telephone.
But Brazil was unmoved, and on Tuesday Rousseff brought an end to the speculation, confirming that her trip was off.
“The two presidents decided to postpone the state visit since the outcome of this visit should not be conditioned on an issue which for Brazil has not been satisfactorily resolved,” Rousseff's office said.
Her statement reflected Brazil's anger over Snowden's disclosures that the NSA spied on her email communications and on the state-run energy giant Petrobras.
“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,” Rousseff's statement said.
David Fleischer, a Brasilia-based international expert, described the visit's postponement as a diplomatic “slap in Obama's face” and linked it to Rousseff's slumping popularity since last June's nationwide street protests ahead of next year's presidential polls.