Rex Tillerson at UT: 'I think there will be change' in Venezuela

02 February, 2018, 21:45 | Author: Franklin Nunez
  • Sec. of State Rex Tillerson to outline Latin America policy priorities at UT Austin

Tillerson gave a speech in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, ahead of a 5-nation trip to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica.

As he's done on many issues, Tillerson took a gentler tone, underscoring that the USA has a $14 billion trade surplus in the hemisphere and saying the administration appreciates the "hard work" of Canadian and Mexican negotiators on Nafta.

"I'm a Texan, former energy executive, and I'm also a rancher".

In his pre-tour speech, Tillerson also warned that China and Russian Federation are assuming "alarming" roles in Latin America, and urged regional powers to work with the United States instead.

Tillerson promoted what he called a "holistic" approach to security that tackles economic development as well as drug trafficking and transnational crime. He said China's offers for help always comes at a price that can hurt countries.

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But commerce between the three countries can have an unexpected impact in other areas, said Maureen Meyer, director for Mexico and migrant rights at the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank.

"And importantly, we share democratic values, values that are the core of what we believe, regardless of the color of our passport".

Tillerson was also due to discuss security and immigration with top Mexican officials, echoing Trump's warning of the need to fight violent drug cartels.

Tillerson said the country needs to get back to its constitution. "In their pursuit of money and power, TCOs leave death and destruction in their wake".

Upcoming House cyber diplomacy hearing House panel schedules hearing on cyber diplomacy efforts USA adds Hamas leader to terror blacklist, imposes sanctions MORE said Thursday that the USA does not advocate for "regime change" in Venezuela, but speculated that the country's military could move to oust President Nicolás Maduro.

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"Latin America does not need a new imperial power", he said.

Maduro's government, which is allied with Cuba's Communist leadership, says it is fighting a US-led right-wing conspiracy determined to end socialism in Latin America, hobble Venezuela's economy and steal its oil wealth.

Tillerson, who received a standing ovation at the university, his alma mater, outlined a strategy that focuses on ramping up worldwide pressure on Maduro to agree to credible elections to ease the country's economic and political crisis.

The United States will use "all its political, diplomatic and economic tools to address the situation in Venezuela", a senior State Department official said at a briefing this week on the trip. According to a recent survey by Gallup, only 16 percent of Latin Americans approve of Trump's job and they expect relations to worsen rather than to improve. The continent's major powers reject the regime but are cautious about piling on the more economic misery with Venezuela on the brink of chaos.

On Friday he is to meet President Enrique Pena Nieto before heading on to his next engagement at the Andean resort of Bariloche, Argentina, and then to Buenos Aires on Monday.

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