Chilean President Sebastian Pinera shaking hands with Mike Pompeo (© Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) shakes hands with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago on April 12. (© Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Santiago, Chile, April 12 for the first stop on a four-day South American trip that also will take him to Paraguay, Peru and Colombia.

The tour highlights American commitments to regional partners that are democratic, open and economically vibrant. Pompeo has drawn a contrast between U.S. allies and the repressive regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, as the Trump administration ratchets up economic and political pressure on Nicolás Maduro.

In Santiago, Pompeo told Chilean members of Congress and businesspeople that the Trump administration believes Chile and the U.S. have the chance “to cement a future of democracy, prosperity for all of the people of all of this hemisphere. It’s not an impossible dream, although a few years ago we might not have believed it.” He noted that Chile made the transition to democracy peacefully and is now taking a leadership role in regional affairs. Pompeo’s visit took place a few days ahead of an April 15 meeting in Santiago of Lima Group foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela.

Pompeo will visit Paraguay on April 13 to meet with President Abdo Benítez, the first time a U.S. secretary of state has visited Paraguay since 1965. He will discuss the strong bilateral partnership between the U.S. and Paraguay to combat transnational crime and corruption, strengthen economic ties and support democracy in Venezuela.

The secretary will then travel to Lima, where he is expected to commend Peru’s generosity for supporting 730,000 Venezuelan refugees. He also will thank the Andean nation for its leadership of the Lima Group, which is working toward peaceful resolution of the Venezuela crisis. Although not a member, the U.S. cooperates closely with the intergovernmental body, which also counts Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Mexico as members.

Finally, the secretary will make a stop in Cúcuta, Colombia, on April 14 to visit organizations supporting Venezuelan refugees.

In Chile, Pompeo stated, “The United States wants to partner. It wants to partner as this region takes every major step, especially those that are particularly difficult. Together, that’s what we’re doing in Venezuela.” He said the U.S. and its Latin American partners would convene a ministerial meeting in Peru focused on the health care needs of the displaced. “And make no mistake about it,” he said, “the United States and all of these coalition partners will continue to isolate Maduro.”