Tillerson is kicking off a South American tour, and one of the topics that is sure to be discussed at his various destination countries is the problem of Venezuela.
Tillerson is making comments about how he would like to see the Maduro regime gone:
He pointed to the chaotic leadership in Venezuela, even seeming to welcome regime change, if not outright advocating it. Venezuela is teetering on the bring of economic collapse, and President Nicolas Maduro is up for re-election in the next couple of months.
“The corrupt and hostile regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela clings to a false dream and antiquated vision for the region that has already failed its citizens,” Tillerson said. He noted that the government has declined U.S. medical support.
When a student in the audience asked Tillerson about regime change, Tillerson said that the U.S. wants a peaceful transition. And in a playful tone, he also said Maduro could vacate the country and turn to the Cubans for refuge.
“President Maduro could choose to just leave,” Tillerson said, explaining that the U.S. has not advocated for violent regime change. “If the kitchen gets a little too hot for him, I’m sure that he’s got some friends over in Cuba that can give him a nice hacienda on the beach, and he can have a nice life over there.”
Also during this event, he mentioned the possibility of Maduro’s army overthrowing him.
This is coming against the backdrop of mass starvation and a refugee crisis that is developing as starving Venezuelans flee their collapsing country in every direction, looking for food. This destabilizing wave of refugees is causing Venezuela to become a security concern for its neighbors, as well as the United States which does not want to see Russia and China moving into the lawless region.