US Secretary of State Tillerson threatens oil sanctions against Venezuela
7 February 2018
Reflecting mounting concern over challenges to US dominance over Latin America, the Trump administration sent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on a diplomatic tour aimed at countering “new imperial powers” in the region, particularly China and Russia.
In a preamble to his trip at the University of Texas in Austin, Tillerson declared Thursday: “Today, China is gaining a foothold in Latin America. It is using economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit.” He later condemned Russian military aid to certain countries and warned Mexican officials to be wary of Russian influence in their July general elections.
The message he sought to deliver was summed up by his comment that the 1823 Monroe Doctrine claiming US hegemony over the hemisphere “is as relevant today as it was the day it was written.”
This represented an about-face from the declaration by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013 that “The era of the Monroe doctrine is over.” Washington is dispensing with such rhetorical accommodations to national sentiments in order to pursue its recently announced strategic orientation to the preparation for “great power” conflicts
Overall, Tillerson’s trip followed the same guidelines as that of US Vice President Mike Pence’s Latin American tour last August, when he pushed governments to join the US in condemning the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela as part of a broader campaign to undermine Russian and Chinese interests in the region. “As we see widening asymmetrical threats developing around the world, we would do well to see to Central and South America,” Pence said, advancing the reasoning behind Washington’s…