Venezuela and Mercosur Discuss Mechanisms to Prevent US Government Spying

Yesterday the Venezuelan government proposed to the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) that it adopt mechanisms to prevent the United States from spying on its countries.

By Tamara Pearson
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The I Meeting of Authorities and Experts in Information Security and Telecommunications (MPPRE)
The I Meeting of Authorities and Experts in Information Security and Telecommunications (MPPRE)

Merida, 18th September 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday the Venezuelan government proposed to the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) that it adopt mechanisms to prevent the United States from spying on its countries.

The proposal follows revelations by Brazilian press in July that the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitors internet traffic in Latin America, specially targeting Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil, and also had a network of 16 US spy bases to monitor emails and phone calls in Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Egypt, India, Iran, Turkey, China, Russia, and France.

Mercosur held its I Meeting of Authorities and Experts in Information Security and Telecommunications in Caracas yesterday in response to the spying. Delegations from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay were present, as well a team of experts from Venezuela.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua said that Mercosur would form a commission to formulate public policies to counter the US interference. He also said the commission will look at guaranteeing technological independence.

“Governments, companies, and citizens were violated by the United States spying,” Jaua said, arguing that therefore the meeting needed to discuss “the formulation of public policies and mechanisms that allow our heads of state and our governments to fulfil their mandates, which have been violated... because many of them have been victims of spying carried out by the United States government”.

Yesterday’s meeting also discussed creating a Centre of Security Management of Mercosur, promoting public domain software, protection of information as a human right, and creating international and regional norms and regulations for internet security.

The meeting was a follow-up from a decision made by Mercosur in its head of state summit on 12 of July to reject US spying.

Yesterday Jaua also publically expressed his support for Brazilian President Dilma Roussef’s decision to cancel her visit to the United States. She cancelled the 23 October meeting in rejection of US spying, specifically on her own conversations and on the state company Petrobras.

The US government argued in a statement yesterday that it wished to “move beyond the issue [of spying] as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship” and hoped to meet in the future on a “mutually agreed” date.

Previously the US has argued that its program of message interception was aimed at combating “terrorism”, but the Brazilian government alleged that the spying on Petrobras was done for “strategic interests”.