Dilma Rousseff

While the NSA spying scandal seems to have gotten lost in the US mainsteam media’s news cycle as war with Syria and another mass shooting took center stage, the story’s international implications continue to fester. After becoming an election issue in Germany the people of Brazil also have decided being spied on matters to them. As a result, President Dilma Rousseff felt compelled to cancel a state visit to Washington.

The Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, snubbed Barack Obama on Tuesday by postponing an official visit to Washington in protest at the spying activities of the US National Security Agency.

The row between the biggest economies in North and South America was the latest diplomatic fallout from the top-secret documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden. In August, Obama announced he was pulling out of a bilateral meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, over Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to Snowden.

Brazil is not a country the US can ignore. It has experienced massive growth in the past decade making it the seventh largest economy in the world and the largest in South America.

Brazil has also gotten closer to China than the US. Something that appeared open to change before the NSA scandal which has infuriated Brazil’s people and political establishment.

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Obama should apologise to the world. Justice minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said the reports, if confirmed, “should be considered very serious and constitute a clear violation of Brazilian sovereignty”.

In response, US officials have adopted a softer tone. US national security adviser Susan Rice said the reports raised “legitimate questions for our friends and allies”. But the White House has stopped short of the explanations and apologies requested by Brazil.

The political costs of the NSA spying have yet to materialize at home but are making a serious impact internationally. Ironically it is among the people that the NSA arguably is mandated to spy on that are resisting the loudest rather than the US public who are being spied on by the NSA illegally.