Tillerson lands in Latin America with swipes at China and Venezuela

Secretary of State Tillerson rallies support for Venezuela sanctions

Before kicking off his tour of Latin American countries, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech Thursday in Austin saying the Trump administration's policy for the Western Hemisphere is built on promoting democratic values, strengthening economies and countering "predatory actors" that include Russian Federation and China.

CGTN's Franc Contreras reports from Mexico City.

"I understand how important NAFTA is for our economy, and then the continent", he said.

Abigail Griffin, a Plan II senior, said she appreciated Tillerson's visit to UT because it humanized him by showing that anyone, regardless of who they become, can return to UT and joke about how UT is still better than the University of Oklahoma.

Tillerson also talked about the USA helping law enforcement in Mexico - providing inspection equipment and training - to help put an end to smuggling of drugs and people. "But there is no surprise that an agreement put in place 30 years ago, before the advance of the digital age and the digital economy, before Chinese rise as the second economy, the NAFTA needs to be modernized".

Political turmoil in Venezuela is set to be a central topic during Tillerson's trip, which includes stops in Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica.

Noting the United States will continue adding pressure to Venezuelan government, Tillerson insisted, however, that his country would neither maneuver a regime change in the country, nor involve ordinary Venezuelans in the sanctions.




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.

According to the Department of State, throughout his travel, Tillerson "will advocate for increased regional attention to the crisis in Venezuela". "We must root out corruption in all of its forms".

The former ExxonMobil CEO visited his alma mater on the cusp of a weeklong swing through Latin America.

The trip will be an effort to reassure nations that the US remains interested in a region that under President Donald Trump is mentioned mostly as a source of illegal immigrants and crime.

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.

He called on Latin America to do the same.

"We must address security and development issues side by side", Tillerson said. "You always bleed orange once you've been here, and I think it's really cool to see that in prominent individuals".

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