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Rising Brazil-U.S. Tensions Over Spying Allegations From Snowden Leak

Will Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff call off a state visit to Washington?

Happier times between allies of the Americas
Happier times between allies of the Americas
Tai Nalon

BRASILIABrazil is simply not buying the explanations coming out of Washington after recent reports that documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed that the U.S spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Reuterscites an unnamed Brazilian government source as saying a Rousseff trip to Washington scheduled next month is at risk, along with certain trade partnerships, if the U.S. does not clarify or publicly apology for accusations that the National Security Agency (NSA) tracked emails, text messages and phone calls of Rousseff, as well as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Brazilian Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo told Folha de S. Paulo that the justifications the U.S. gave to the Brazilian government about alleged espionage in the country "weren't true." According to the minister, Brazil is hoping to get "reasonable explanations," especially as regards alleged interceptions of Rousseff's conversations as cited by Globo TV that were circulated by former NSA contractor Snowden.

"Absolutely no reasonable explanations have been given by the U.S.. In fact, from the start all the explanations given to us have turned out to be false. After the embassy's justifications and, later, our team's visit to the U.S., further investigation showed they weren't plausible.

"We are still waiting," said Bernardo, who characterized the American behavior as "unjustifiable." Still, he added that it was up to the Brazilian president and her diplomatic team to decide whether or not to go to Washington for October's state visit.

Up to her

"I think demanding explanations from the American government is the appropriate action," Bernardo says. "I believe that diplomacy is needed to solve this problem. This is embarrassing us — as well as other countries, such as Mexico, Germany, France."

He thinks that there isn't the "slightest possibility" that the U.S. are spying on Brazil to monitor possible terrorist attacks. "That's industrial, commercial tracking to find out about pre-salt and other important commercial or economic matters. Thus, it's worse than it seems at a first glance."

Brazil's Vice President Michel Temer has also criticized the U.S. behavior as "unacceptable," but said that he believes that the matter will soon be "tactfully" settled.

As for whether Rousseff should postpone her trip to Washington, he stated, "The president can decide for herself. In my opinion, this will be taken care of diplomatically and in time for the president to visit the United States."

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Libya To Lampedusa, The Toll Of Climate Migration That Spans The Mediterranean

The death toll for Libya's catastrophic flood this week continues to rise, at the same time that the Italian island of Lampedusa raises alarms over unprecedented number of migrant arrivals. What look at first like two distinct stories are part of the same mounting crisis that the world is simply not prepared to face: climate migration.

Photograph of migrants covering themselves from the sun as they wait to be transferred away from the Lampedusa island. An officer stands above them and the ocean speeds in the background.

September 15, 2023, Lampedusa: Migrants wait in Cala Pisana to be transferred to other places from the island

Ciro Fusco/ZUMA
Valeria Berghinz


It’s a difficult number for the brain to comprehend: 20,000. That is the current estimate of how many people were killed — the majority, likely, instantly drowned and washed away — after a dam broke during a massive storm in eastern Libya on Sunday.

As the search continues for victims (the official death count currently stands at over 11,000) in and around the city of Derna, across the Mediterranean Sea, a different number tells another troubling story: in the span of just two days, 7,000 migrants have arrived on the island of Lampedusa.

Midway between Sicily and the North African coast, the tiny Italian island has long been a destination for those hailing from all points south and east to arrive on European soil. Still, the staggering number of arrivals this week of people ready to risk their lives on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean should again set off alarms that reach far beyond the island.

Yet these two numbers — one of the thousands of dead, the other of thousands of survivors — are in some way really one story.

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