U.S. Secretary of State’s visit to Peru: Venezuela on the Agenda

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Pedro Pablo Kuzcynski in the government palace. Vice President Mercedes Araoz, far left.

Venezuela’s political crisis was the main theme of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Lima this week, looking towards the Americas Summit to be held in Lima in April.

The Americas Summit brings together the heads of state of the 35 nations in the hemisphere to discuss common issues. This year the focus, chosen by Peru, the host country, is democratic governance in the face of corruption.

“The United States appreciates Peru’s leadership in the region and particularly the very important role being played by the Lima Group” in the face of the “terrible destruction” of the democratic processes in Venezuela, ” Tillerson said in a press conference with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski following a private meeting at the government palace.

The Lima Group, which President Kuczynski spearheaded in mid-2017 to explore solutions to Venezuela’s democratic crisis, is made up of 12 nations in the hemisphere to analyze the social and economic crisis in Venezuela and seek ways to encourage dialogue and a return to a full democracy.

The latest technology — U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson using a translator app during his joint press conference with President Kuczynski at the government palace.

“The Lima Group is ready to speak out on the issue of the elections in Venezuela and we certainly believe that we need to strengthen the humanitarian aid because otherwise we will have a country with very serious problems,” said President Kuczynski.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, and his Foreign Affairs secretary Delcy Rodriguez had harsh words last year about the Lima Group’s intentions.

In Lima, politicial parties have suggested declaring Maduro persona non grata and blocking his attendance at the Americas Summit.  President Kuczynski, however, has said that Maduro is welcome to the meeting, and yesterday the Venezuelan government confirmed that Maduro will indeed be in Lima for the talks.

The U.S. has yet to confirm if President Donald Trump will attend the summit.

The U.S. Secretary of State left Lima for Bogota on Tuesday morning and ends this journey with a visit to Jamaica.  Before landing in Lima, Tillerson visited Mexico and Argentina.

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