Rex Tillerson Embarks on Latin American Tour

Katrina Barker
February 2, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Latin American countries yesterday against excessive reliance on economic ties with China, saying the region did not need new imperial powers.

Acknowledging that USA demand for drugs is driving the cartels' violence and lawlessness, Tillerson said the working with other countries to find strategies to attack the organizations' revenue streams, halt the transfer of weapons from the US and find and prosecute "the middlemen who enable them".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attends the US Qatar Strategic Dialogue ‎at the State Department, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington.

After visiting Buenos Aires and the Argentine mountain resort town of Bariloche, Tillerson is scheduled to meet in Lima with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on various issues, including the eighth annual Summit of the Americas, which is to be held April 13-14 in Lima, Peru.

Mexico's government, and particularly the foreign ministry, has pushed hard to defend NAFTA, a lynchpin of its export-led economy, ahead of a July 2018 election in which the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party is now polling third.

Tillerson focused much of his policy speech on economic ties, noting that the United States has 20 free-trade agreements, with 12 of them in the Western Hemisphere - helping to fuel nearly $2 billion in annual trade, 2.5 million and a $14 billion annual trade surplus for the United States.

He also went on the offensive against the leftist government of Venezuela, once a rival center of influence for Latin American nations, now a political and economic basket case.

"If the kitchen gets too hot" for Venezuela's Maduro "I am sure that he's got some friends over in Cuba that could give him a nice hacienda on the beach", Tillerson said, while stressing that he was not calling for Regime Change in Venezuela but adding that what "would be easiest is if Maduro chooses to leave".

Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) "perhaps the worst deal in the history of the world", has said immigrants from across the southern border bring crime, and he remains determined to build a frontier wall. President Donald Trump has put little emphasis on them since taking office.

The focus of the SoS' trip will be the growing crisis in Venezuela, as all of his hosts are members of the Lima Group, a Latin American collective created to coordinate a response to the political and economic turmoil in the Bolivarian country.

"Obviously that would be something that we strongly want to avoid", Videgaray said at an event in NY late previous year, reffering to NAFTA collapsing.

He called on Latin America to do the same.

"I think there will be a change".

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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