Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Brazil's Rousseff the New Voice of Latin America?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Brazil's Rousseff the New Voice of Latin America?

Article excerpt

The world has a new global voice, and it belongs to Dilma Rousseff.

The Brazilian president's fiery speech yesterday at the United Nations condemning the US spying program solidified her position on the world's podium as a civil liberties champion unafraid to stand up to Washington, analysts say.

"This is about global governance," says Elena Lazarou, director of the Center for International Relations at Fundacao Getulio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro. She says that Rousseff spoke "for those not respected equally, not just Latin America or just the developing world. She's talking about justice."

But the forcefulness of her call for the US to respect national sovereignty and end state-sponsored espionage also took many observers by surprise, as Brazil is a longtime US alley normally accustomed to playing the role of peacemaker. President Rousseff delivered "slams," "blasts," and "attacks" yesterday in a speech alternately described in the media as a "tirade" and "stinging rebuke" to the US.

Rousseff is wading into uncharted waters, says Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, who described her speech as a radical shift from the foreign policy laid down by her predecessors. Rousseff is now leading Latin America's largest economy in a new direction, asserting its needs in new ways.

"Brazil has chosen to take a rather fierce stance and has described the United States as if Washington was Pyongyang and this was North Korea and not a sacred alley," says Mr. Birns. "Anyone who says this is a mere permutation in a much larger pictograph is not comparing what Brazil was in the past and what ... it is for Brazil to behave in this manner. The whole geopolitical map has been changed."

'Talking about justice'Rousseff's address yesterday at the opening of the United Nation's annual general assembly was widely anticipated following her decision last week to cancel an official state visit to Washington amid revelations that the US National Security Agency spied on her private communications. The visit is "postponed" indefinitely until Brazil receives a full explanation of the surveillance program and a promise to cease spying, according to Rousseff's office.

At the UN yesterday, Rousseff called the US spying program a "case of grave violations of human rights and civil liberties" that undermined any basis for a relationship. "Friendly governments and societies that seek to build a true strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal," she said. "They are unacceptable."

She also called for a new framework on how governments use the Internet that will guarantee privacy. …

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