Tillerson calls for regional support to resolve Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis

miami heraldU.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday said he was “heartbroken” to witness the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and said Washington’s top priority for the region was for the troubled South American nation to hold “free and fair elections.”

Speaking at Colombia’s presidential palace, Tillerson said the United States was also studying the idea of helping Colombia financially as it deals with more than 600,000 Venezuelans who have fled across the border in recent years amid an economic meltdown.

Colombia is Tillerson’s fourth stop on a trip that has taken him to Mexico, Argentina and Peru and will end in Jamaica. During the tour, Tillerson has been shoring up support for increased sanctions against Venezuela, including the idea of hitting the country’s critical oil sector by halting U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and elsewhere. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, Russia, and even transnational criminal organizations.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform policymakers and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.