Latin countries become latest ‘victims’ of spying

Latin countries become latest ‘victims’ of spying

Latin countries become latest ‘victims’ of spying

Venezuelan President Maduro (C) waves upon arriving with FM Jaua (L) for a meeting in Caracas. US leaker Snowden is likely to go to Venezuela.

The U.S. spying scandal has spilled into Latin American countries as they demand explanations from Washington about new allegations that it spied on both allies and foes in the region with secret surveillance programs.

A leading Brazilian newspaper reported July 9 that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) targeted most Latin American countries with spying programs that monitored Internet traffic, especially in Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico.

Citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. intelligence contractor, O Globo newspaper said the NSA programs went beyond military affairs to what it termed “commercial secrets,” including oil and energy resources.

Regional leaders called for a tough response to the alleged espionage that O Globo said included a satellite monitoring station based in Brazil’s capital.

“A shiver ran down my back when I learned that they are spying on all of us,” Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said in a speech on July 9.

Mercosur meeting

She called on Mercosur, a bloc of South American nations, due to meet tomorrow, to issue a strong statement and demand explanations from Washington. “More than revelations, these are confirmations of what we thought was happening,” she said.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, who has emerged as a close U.S. ally, said the reported spying was worrisome.

Colombia also expressed concern after the revelations and called for an explanation. The Mexican Foreign Ministry has asked the U.S. to provide “broad information” about the report. “Following the information published today, the Mexican government reiterated to the U.S. government, through diplomatic channels, its demand for broad information on this matter,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Brazil’s government said it set up a task force of its Defense, Communications, Justice and Foreign Affairs ministries to investigate the alleged espionage.

O Globo said a main NSA surveillance target was Colombia, the United States’ top military ally in the region, where drug trafficking and movements by the FARC militant group were monitored.

It said the NSA spied on military procurement and the oil industry in Venezuela, and in Mexico it gathered information on the drug trade, the energy sector and political affairs.

Also swept up in what O Globo termed as U.S. spying were Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile and El Salvador.