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3:45, 03 February 2018

Tillerson Tries to Soothe Troubled Allies in Latin America. It is Not an Straightforward Sell.


Tillerson Tries to Soothe Troubled Allies in Latin America. It’s Not an Straightforward Sell.

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MEXICO CITY — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson on Friday took on the daunting activity of resetting relations with Latin America, a region exactly where President Trump’s anti-immigrant invective and his disdain for trade ties are rattling allies of the United States.

Nowhere have the insults been felt a lot more keenly than in Mexico, exactly where Mr. Tillerson started a tour of the region by assuring his hosts that he was committed to preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by Mexico, the United States and Canada.

“I can not emphasize adequate the importance of our financial relationships,” Mr. Tillerson said following meeting with the Mexican and Canadian foreign ministers, acknowledging that almost 3 million American jobs depend on trade with neighboring nations.

Like considerably of what Mr. Tillerson stated on Friday, the statement seemed to contradict his boss. Mr. Trump has referred to as Nafta “the worst trade deal ever made” and has repeatedly threatened to pull the United States out of the accord, which took effect in 1994.

Mr. Tillerson will also travel to Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica with a broad agenda, including an try to create a united front to apply much more pressure on President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela as he grows increasingly authoritarian.

But hanging more than all the efforts is Mr. Trump’s heated language, which undercuts Mr. Tillerson’s diplomacy on Venezuela and considerably of the United States agenda.

“This is a way for Tillerson to say, ‘We’re elevating our voice,’” stated Rafael Fernández de Castro, the director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California San Diego. “I do not think they are in a position to elevate their voice.”

“This is the ‘bad Uncle Sam’ of the past,” he stated, referring to Trump administration policies. “The horrendous insults to Mexicans, to each and every single Latin American immigrant, are there. They can’t have it both methods.”

In Mexico, other policies have been subordinated to sustaining Nafta, which is being renegotiated in a process that seems likely to stretch into the summer.

But Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray has discovered himself in a hard position, attempting to placate the Americans to save Nafta but facing stress at property to respond sharply to Mr. Trump’s positions, like his demand to develop a wall along the two countries’ border.

“We didn’t speak about the wall,” Mr. Videgaray said curtly on Friday. “It is not a bilateral situation.”

Despite Mr. Trump’s claims that Mexico is sending drugs and criminal immigrants to the United States, Mexico has continued a close safety partnership with Washington. That could change, said Raúl Benítez, a safety specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“For the government of Mexico, it is acquiring a lot more difficult to cooperate with the United States” as public hostility to the Trump administration rises, he stated, specially with Mexico’s presidential election approaching in July.

While considerably of Latin America shares the Trump administration’s concern more than the escalating humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela, handful of governments would want to be observed as acting at Washington’s initiative.

“The United States has mainly lost its chance to be the massive influencer in Venezuela,” said Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican diplomat now primarily based in Washington. “They never ever came up with a unified resolution. I’m not sure what the United States brings to the equation.”

Washington has placed sanctions on far more than 50 leading Venezuelan officials, and Canada and the European Union have followed.

But Mr. Maduro shrugged off the international pressure last month, when the Constituent Assembly under his control pushed forward the date of the presidential election to April. With the most well-known candidates either jailed, barred from operating or in exile, there is small time for the opposition to organize around a new candidate to challenge Mr. Maduro.

Mr. Guajardo stated that the United States had also lost credibility on yet another concern that Mr. Tillerson hopes to highlight: anti-corruption efforts about the hemisphere. That will be the main theme of the Summit of the Americas in Peru in April.

“He does not understand how out of tune that sounds these days,” Mr. Guajardo mentioned, pointing to the prospective conflicts of interest raised by Mr. Trump’s business activities and these of his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

Mr. Tillerson has taken pains to sound a conciliatory note on drugs, acknowledging, as have his predecessors, that the United States shares duty in the drug trade as a source of demand.

But he will raise the issue of improved coca cultivation in Colombia when he meets with President Juan Manuel Santos, a complaint that may prove to be an irritant amongst Colombians.

As Mr. Tillerson travels throughout the region, his statements will be scrutinized at every single cease, with the nearby press swift to point out slights. Currently Latin Americans seized on his comments on Thursday about the 1823 Monroe Doctrine which asserted that the United States would not tolerate European intervention in the Americas.

But in Latin America, the doctrine has extended been viewed as a pretext for American armed intervention in the region. Mr. Tillerson said that the doctrine “has been a success” because “what binds us together in this hemisphere are shared democratic values.”

He also seemed to recommend on Thursday that the Venezuelan military may well select to mount a coup against Mr. Maduro, scratching a barely-healed wound in a region with a extended history of military dictatorships.

In the past, “when issues are so undesirable that the military leadership realizes that they just — they cannot serve the citizens anymore, they will manage a peaceful transition,” Mr. Tillerson stated. “Whether that will be the case right here or not, I don’t know.”

On Friday, Mr. Tillerson stepped back from that suggestion. “What we would like to see take place there is a peaceful transition,” he said.

Nicholas Casey contributed from Medellín, Colombia.

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Published at Sat, 03 Feb 2018 01:29:43 +0000


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