SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The information leaks released by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden have created a diplomatic crisis that encompasses 35 countries, including Mexico.
The issue is that the NSA conducted surveillance programs on multiple heads of state.
Among such heads of state were Mexican President Felipe Calderón, during his presidential term, and President Enrique Peña Nieto, during his presidential campaign. The crisis began with a disagreement between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin based on the fact that Snowden received temporary asylum in Russia for one year, which did not sit well with the U.S. government.
In Mexico, the reaction to the Obama administration’s activities has been tepid and moderate and has remained exclusively in the diplomatic arena. Nevertheless, Mexico’s Congress has shown outrage given that they believe espionage should not form part of a relationship between friends and allies.
This reaction is in stark contrast to that of German President Angela Merckel, who stated that, “Friends do not spy on friends.” In fact, Snowden was prepared to testify in Germany about U.S. surveillance programs with the approval of the Russian government; however, the German Parliament has since discarded this possibility. Nevertheless, the possibility still exists that Germany may request approval from the Russian government to have Snowden interrogated by German officials on Russian territory.
In Mexico, the government assigned an investigation to the Mexican Department of the Interior. This investigation is much needed because the citizens deserve an answer in light of the fear that highly valued rights such as telephone privacy, internet and postal communications will be violated. The question remains: If heads of state are subject to espionage, what privacy rights can private citizens expect to have?
Dr. Mario Melgar-Adalid is a member of Mexico’s National System of Researchers (SNI). He is a Law researcher at UNAM’s Institute of Juridical Research and currently an Of Counsel at Cacheaux, Cavazos & Newton, L.L.P. in San Antonio. He writes a regular column for CCN’s monthly Mexico Report, which also appears in the Guardian. To view all previous versions of the CCN Mexico Report, go to: http://www.ccn-law.com/