Eraldo Peres / AP
Thomas Shannon, U.S. ambassador to Brazil, sits in a car after meeting with the Brazil's Minister of the Cabinet of Institutional Security Gen. Jose Elito Carvalho in Brasilia on Monday.
BOGOTA - Latin American governments urged the United States on Wednesday to be more forthcoming in answering allegations of spying programs there that have set off a wave of outrage that could damage U.S. standing in the region.
Colombia, Washington's closest military ally in Latin America, joined the chorus of governments seeking answers following reports the United States used surveillance programs to monitor Internet traffic in most of the region's countries.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said it would be "totally unacceptable" if it were revealed that the United States had spied on in its neighbor and largest Latin American business partner.
Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA surveillance story, says Venezuela is likely Edward Snowden's choice for asylum, but Snowden will not have an easy time traveling without a passport and with the possibility of being caught by U.S. police or Interpol. NBC's Jim Maceda reports.
A leading Brazilian newspaper reported on Tuesday that the U.S. National Security Agency targeted most Latin American countries with the secret spying programs, citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. intelligence contractor.
In Brazil, the United States' largest trading partner in South America, angry senators questioned a state visit that President Dilma Rousseff plans to make to Washington in October, and the potential billion-dollar purchase of U.S.-made fighter jets that Brazil has been considering.
One senator said Brazil should offer Snowden asylum for providing information of vital importance to the country's national security. Another senator said Snowden should get Brazilian citizenship.
Facing tough questions in a Senate hearing, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said Rousseff's visit to Washington was not being reconsidered.
Patriota said U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon, who was called to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, acknowledged the United States collects metadata on email traffic but does not access the content of email messages or conduct the monitoring on Brazilian territory.
It's believed NSA leaker Edward Snowden is holed up inside this hotel at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. NBC's Jim Maceda reports.
Patriota dismissed any changes in the "broad" relations between Brazil and the United States. But asked whether U.S. explanations had satisfied the Brazilian government, he told reporters, "They haven't been satisfactory so far."
The espionage allegations surfaced one week after South American nations fumed about the diversion of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane in Europe because of the suspicion that Snowden was on board.
As anger mounts in the region, the Mercosur bloc of South American plans to issue a tough response at a meeting in Uruguay on Friday. "We're going to be very firm ... the United States has to show some respect to the sovereignty of Latin America and when spying is discovered, it should be punished," Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said in an interview with Radio del Plata. "What is striking is just how massive the U.S. spying is and how unskilled they are at keeping it a secret."
Latin American nations want the United States to tell them what it was up to in the region, and to apologize, he said. Colombia said it was concerned about the reports of an "unauthorized data collection program." Colombia is considered a top U.S. military and diplomatic ally in the region following a decade of joint operations against Marxist rebels and drug trafficking gangs.
Inside the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport are shops, restaurants and a hotel that could make the possibility of an extended stay for NSA leaker Edward Snowden not so bad. NBC's Ghazi Balkiz reports.
"In rejecting the acts of espionage that violate people's rights to privacy as well as the international conventions on telecommunication, Colombia requests the corresponding explanations from the United States government through its ambassador to Colombia," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Other countries across the region have used tougher language in condemning what some have called a violation of their sovereignty and a trampling of individuals' rights to privacy.
"Chile cannot but firmly and categorically condemn spying practices, whatever their origin, nature and objectives," the government said in a statement on Wednesday, adding it would seek to verify the allegations. Chile has long maintained close ties with Washington.
Citing documents leaked by Snowden, O Globo newspaper said the NSA programs went beyond military affairs in the region to what it termed "commercial secrets," including oil and energy resources in Venezuela and Mexico.
- European Parliament launches 'in-depth inquiry' into US spying
- Venezuela is 'most likely' asylum option for Edward Snowden, journalist says
- Analysis: Might Edward Snowden stay in Russia?