Explaining John Kerry’s Shellacking in Brazil (Estadao, Brazil)

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Why, given the apparently close relationship between the U.S. and Brazil, and even an upcoming state visit to the United States by President Dilma Rousseff, was Secretary of State Kerry so publicly and undiplomatically rebuked when he visited the country last week? This editorial from Brazil’s Estadao explains.

The Estadao editorial reads in part:

What led Chancellor Patriota, during an interview alongside Kerry, to go above and beyond any previous expression of protest about the extent of the NSA’s activities?

Brazil does not besmirch the imperatives of security after the outrage of September 11, in the name of which Washington adopted policies that came to violate international treaties to which it is a signatory, and which disregard the individual rights enshrined in its Constitution. However, the fact that Brasilia has signed off on these policies – as Kerry highlighted – does not make them any more legitimate. The “land of the free” remains a democracy, but one that is under observation.

In reference to Brazil’s once infamous National Information Service, a feature of the 1964 dictatorship, General Golbery do Couto e Silva confessed to having “created a monster.” What can be said, then, of the monumental U.S. intelligence apparatus, with its extravagant and unaccountable resources and the decisions of its generals, which have been shielded from public scrutiny? Marx used to repeat a phrase by Roman poet and playwright Publius Terentius Afer (185 – 159 BC): “I consider nothing that is human alien to me.” When an organ of one of the world’s most powerful states acts as if that were its motto, there are no limits to what it is capable of perpetrating.

In connection with all this, yesterday we also posted an article from Brazil’s O Globo headlined, David Miranda’s Detention Makes Plain the ‘Threat to Democracy’, which examines the question, how far has Great Britain, the cradle of modern parliamentary democracy, where the Magna Carta was written, fallen? Columnist Pedro Doria examines the detention of Rio resident David Miranda, who also happens to be the husband of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald:

Brazil does not besmirch the imperatives of security after the outrage of September 11, in the name of which Washington adopted policies that came to violate international treaties to which it is a signatory, and which disregard the individual rights enshrined in its Constitution. However, the fact that Brasilia has signed off on these policies – as Kerry highlighted – does not make them any more legitimate. The “land of the free” remains a democracy, but one that is under observation.

Liberty was born in the West. It is a cultural invention of ours. Freedom from state oppression began in 1215, in England precisely, when a group of barons imposed on King John the Magna Carta – a document that removed his Majesty‚Äôs right to impose, among other things, arbitrary arrest. The American Revolution, which created the first modern democracy already packed with liberal Enlightenment thinkers, is a direct descendent of that English document. And it was precisely on English soil that on Sunday, David was detained because the British government wanted to send a message. According to The Guardian, the U.S. had been informed that the detention would occur. It isn’t clear whether there was any encouragement.

In the United Kingdom, the press reacted with indignation. Snowden may have committed a crime. Greenwald, however, is a reporter, i.e.: the messenger. According to legislation in a good majority of – if not all – democracies, Greenwald committed no crime. His husband, who didn’t even participate in the interview, much less so. The Cuban government pressures family members to threaten those it pursues. The Chinese government does the same. Now we can put Britain’s government on that list.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR PORTUGUESE, OR READ MORE TRANSLATED and English-language foreign press coverage as the NSA surveillance story continues to unfold at Worldmeets.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

Author: WILLIAM KERN (Worldmeets.US)

Founder and Managing Editor of Worldmeets.US

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