Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined the Trump administration's vision for Latin America for the first time Thursday, describing the region as a vital, enduring USA partner despite recent frictions over immigration and trade.
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.
Striking a vastly different tone than President Donald Trump, Tillerson walked a diplomatic line, acknowledging that the United States' drug consumption fuels the drug trade in Mexico and Colombia as well as the flow of weapons to Mexican drug cartels. "Our approach is holistic: We must address security and development issues side by side". "You can not expect to have one without the other", he said.
The oilman-turned-diplomat recalled that his first trip overseas was to Peru as a member of the University of Texas Longhorn band.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) is met by US Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson upon his arrival in Mexico City on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began a weeklong tour of the Americas with a stop in Mexico City on Thursday and today, as Mexican diplomats are pushing to preserve NAFTA.
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He also advocated for developing regional energy resources, saying the opportunity existed to build "an energy partnership that spans the Western Hemisphere".
"The corrupt and hostile regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela clings to a false dream, an antiquated vision for the region that has already failed its citizens", he said.
"The great tragedy of Venezuela is that, although it could be one of the most prosperous countries in the region, it is one of the poorest, " Tillerson said. "It's all the result of man-made collapse".
He said China only seeks to enrich itself, and governments in the region should protect themselves against predatory actors.
As power is transferred from the Castro regime, he said, Cuba has an opportunity to transform its ruling structure in ways that better help Cubans. Those vacant posts include positions overseeing the agency's role in USA trade policy, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, refugee issues and efforts to counter human trafficking.
Mr Tillerson said Russian Federation had continued to sell arms and military equipment to unfriendly governments that "do not share or respect democratic values".
"The U.S.is eager to create even deeper relationships with the aim of expanding freedom to more people", Tillerson said. He said more information would be available later.