NSA Spying Scandal Creates Uncertain Relationship with Brazil

As of July 2013, American journalist Glenn Greenwald has published several accusations against U.S. authorities, such as the National Security Agency, who have allegedly spied on not only American citizens, but Brazilian officials and citizens as well. Greenwald decided to live in Rio de Janeiro and his accusations have generated reaction from all sectors of the society.

The journalist presented the documents obtained through Edward Snowden in a national Sunday show in Brazil called Fantástico, which is aired by Globo, the most watched television station in the country.

The greatest impact and reaction came when Greenwald revealed that the U.S, not only spied on diplomats, but also prominent companies such as oil giant Petrobras and airplane manufacturer Embraer. In September, he broke a story about the personal cell phone of the Brazilian president, Dilma Roussef, being hacked.

Roussef reacted at the United Nations meeting in New York, later on, and cancelled a U.S. trip marking an unprecedented friction between United States and Brazil. But why would the US spy on a long time ally? And why would Brazil react much louder than countries like Mexico or Germany, who were also spied on? How long would this friction last?

Carlos Alberto Montaner, a Miami Herald columnist, wrote an op-ed article explaining that Brazil is not exactly a friend of the United States. According to him, the country it an ally, but the current party in power, the Workers Party, is not. He cited that Brazil has been against U.S. interests in international summits and has aided governments of anti-U.S. neighbors, such as Venezuela, Bolívia, Ecuador, and Argentina.

Still, why would the U,S. spy on private companies in Brazil? Previously, U.S. intelligence agencies have denied that espionage on companies for commercial interests, but they said they do it “to avoid financial crisis.”

The growing trade among the countries, new oil discoveries in Brazil, and the South American country having the most powerful Armed Forces in the region can be added as the main reasons.

According to Dércio Munhoz, a professor of Economics at the University of Brasília, these frictions will have serious consequences for the US in some sectors.

“It can bring distrust when it comes to defense contracts and in the oil sector, or over U.S. investments on strategic sectors”, explained Munhoz.

As of right now, however, the US spy actions were excluded from Dilma Roussef’s speeches after Folha de São Paulo denounced that in the past Brazil also spied on US diplomats and officials from other countries.

Also, the Brazilian Confederation of Industries, the largest manufacturing union in the country, has surprisingly called for a free trade agreement with the United States. The Brazilian economy is known for having tariffs for imported goods.

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