Dilma goes to Washington

Paulo Sotero -O Estado de S. Paulo, 08/27/2013

With two months ahead of President Dilma Rousseff’s state visit to the United States in October, expectations that the event would deepen and strengthen relations between the countries have already vanished after Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota publicly questioned Secretary of State, John Kerry, about the NSA monitoring of Brazil’s communications. The mood was further soured with the arrest of David Miranda by Scotland Yard in London under the anti-terrorism law. Miranda is the Brazilian partner of Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist based in Rio de Janeiro who revealed information about NSA activities collected by Edward Snowden.  In this environment, agreements that have been discussed and were planned to be announced on October 23rd in Washington have become complicated.

This episode certainly reduced the space for rhetorical exaggerations to take place, which tend to be commonplace during these events. This is not a bad thing. Realism and transparency in the dialogue between Washington and Brasilia are necessary instruments to make Dilma Rousseff’s visit a substantive one and to help make the bilateral relationship more productive. Hence, Barack Obama’s decisions to reevaluate NSA practices, which are under heavy scrutiny in the U.S., and Kerry’s recognition of the necessity to respond to questions posed by Brazil’s government, are very positive. Officials from political and technical realms of both countries have already initiated meetings about NSA activities. American sources admit that greater transparency with allied countries that were affected by NSA electronic espionage would have neutralized reactions to Snowden’s revelations.

Read original article in Portuguese here.

Paulo Sotero is the Director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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