RIO DE JANEIRO — President Dilma Rousseff, incensed over a series of reports that the U.S. National Security Agency tapped her personal communications and spied on Brazil’s state oil company, has canceled a state visit to Washington next month, Brazil’s government said Tuesday.
President Barack Obama tried to soothe Rousseff about the spying disclosures in a 20-minute phone conversation Monday night, Brazilian and American officials said. Rousseff’s aides had expressed their ire over the revelations, saying that her attendance at the only state dinner the Obamas are hosting this year was in jeopardy unless the United States provided a detailed and satisfactory explanation for the spying.
“The illegal practices of intercepting the communications of citizens, businesses and members of the Brazilian government constitute a grave threat to national sovereignty and individual rights and are incompatible with the democratic coexistence between friendly countries,” said a statement issued by Brazil’s presidency.
Rousseff, who had a 36 percent approval rating last month in the wake of nationwide protests against substandard public services, has been under pressure from leftists in her Workers Party movement to stay home. Canceling the trip is seen as politically expedient here, partly because she faces a tough re-election campaign next year.
But Brazil’s decision will in the short term be damaging for the country, which has a struggling economy that is seeking American investment and a greater opening to Brazilian products.