US State Secretary Tries to Appease Brazil While Street Protests Lose Steam

<US Secretary of State, John KerryThe government of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will raise the issue of US spying on Brazilian companies and individuals when US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Brazil. “It is an issue that cannot be left out of the bilateral US-Brazil agenda,” Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Last month, Patriota expressed serious concerns over a report, which said the US National Security Agency (NSA) had been spying on Brazilian companies and individuals for a decade.

Brazil’s O Globo newspaper reported on July 7 that the NSA had collected data on billions of telephone and email conversations in the country.

The Globo report said that information released by US surveillance whistle blower Edward Snowden reveals that the number of telephone and email messages logged by the NSA in the 10-year period was near to the 2.3 billion captured in the US.

The Brazilian foreign minister expressed “deep concern at the report that electronic and telephone communications of Brazilian citizens are being the object of espionage by organs of American intelligence.”

“The Brazilian government has asked for clarifications” through the US Embassy in Brasília and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, Patriota said.

Patriota also said Brazil will ask the United Nations for measures “to impede abuses and protect the privacy” of Internet users, laying down rules for governments “to guarantee cybernetic security that protects the rights of citizens and preserves the sovereignty of all countries.”

Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.

On Tuesday, Brazil-based US reporter Glenn Greenwald, who first released the top-secret documents Snowden had taken out of the US, said he had received up to 20,000 secret US government documents from the US surveillance whistle blower Snowden.

Rousseff Bouncing Back

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff’s approval rating gained six percentage points after diving in the wake of massive protests in Brazil, a new poll showed. The number of Brazilians who consider Rousseff’s administration “great” or “good” was 36%, up from an all-time low 30% in late June.

According to a DataFolha opinion poll published in local newspaper Folha de S. Paulo the recovery, though still far below the 65% approval she had in March, reflects slightly more confidence in Brazil’s economy as concerns about inflation ease.

The poll also showed Brazilians are less supportive of the mass protests that drew one million to the streets at their peak in mid June. The demonstrations dealt with a range of issues including corruption and poor transportation, and some say they lacked focus.

The number of Brazilians who said the protests had resulted in positive changes fell to 49% from 65% in DataFolha’s last poll.

The 27 percentage point drop in Rousseff’s approval in just three weeks that DataFolha reported on June 29, after the protests, was the sharpest suffered by a Brazilian leader since 1990.

Rousseff, who is expected to run for re-election next year, at one point had one of the highest approval ratings in the western hemisphere. The poll published on Saturday morning did not include voter intention.

The number of Brazilians who consider Rousseff’s administration “bad” or “terrible” fell to 22% from 25% a month earlier, the poll said.

The approval rating of her economic team, led by Finance Minister Guido Mantega and central bank president Alexandre Tombini, rose slightly to 30% from 27% a month earlier.

Pessimism over inflation was nearly stable at 54% from 53% a month earlier. Inflation in Brazil had been rising since December, but slowed sharply in July after authorities in several cities and states rolled back public transport fare increases after the protests.

The poll, conducted August 7-9, surveyed 2,615 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points. But the poll did not have time to measure the impact of the latest corruption claims made public in the last three/four days involving both the main opposition party and the ruling Workers Party.

Mercopress

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