“Diplomatic Realism, Restraint, and Respect in Latin America”


SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning. (Applause.)
Thank you. Thank you all very much. Good morning. It’s great to be here. You have beautiful
weather down here in Kentucky. (Laughter.) Senator McConnell, thank you so much for that
gracious introduction. It is – Senator McConnell has truly been a great partner of mine, of
the State Department, of the Central Intelligence Agency, in his role as the leader in the United
States Senate. It’s great to be back in Kentucky. You know
politicians always talk about being back, but this is true. I was stationed down at
Fort Knox not once, but twice. I know every bar in Elizabethtown. (Laughter.) It’s been
a couple decades, but I’ll bet I could still find them. (Laughter.) I do want to thank, too, the McConnell Center
and the University of Louisville for having me here. It’s difficult to come on campus.
The last time I interacted with the University of Louisville, you were beating my Wichita
State Shockers in the Final Four in Atlanta. (Laughter.) I am not emotionally over it.
(Laughter.) And so if I struggle today, you now know why. It’s great to be here. As a former soldier
too, I want to thank you for your Army Leadership Development Program here, and I especially
commend your emphasis on civic education. I see all these great leaders in uniform.
It reminds me of the first campaign commercial. The person putting it together said, “Hey
Mike, why don’t you get in your uniform?” And my wife said, “He might be able to fit
in his boots.” (Laughter.) So go look it up. Boots. It’s a great campaign commercial. And to those of you who are here as students,
great. I understand Senator McConnell said you’re missing class today. Is that right?
You’re welcome. (Laughter.) But I’m glad you’re part of this program. It represents
the finest of the American tradition, and it’s part of the reason that I am here today
as well. It’s part of my duty as America’s top
diplomat to explain to Americans how the State Department and the work that we do benefits
each and every one of you every day. And it’s important, too, that I get a chance to hear
from Americans outside of Washington, and I’ll do that when I get a chance to meet
with some of you just after that. I also come out here to recruit. State.gov – go check
it out. It’s a great place to work and serve America. So I’m on a recruiting mission
here in Kentucky as well. Back in May, I spoke at a place called the
Claremont Institute out in California. I used those remarks to talk about President Trump’s
vision for American foreign policy, and I told that group that President Trump is within
the American tradition, but is staring at this from the perspective of how the Founders
thought about American foreign policy. There were three central ideas if you go back and
read. First was this idea of realism. You have to
stare at the problem set as it is, not as you wish it were to be. The second idea is restraint: understanding
that we live in this unbelievably exceptional nation. We have an enormous privilege as American
citizens, and we have a special role to play in that world; but our power is not limitless,
and sometimes we must make difficult choices. And I’ll talk about that a little bit more
this morning. And the third idea is respect: respect for
our American principles and how other nations choose to run their affairs inside of their
own countries. And I want to talk about that today in the
context of a place that gets too little attention from us here in the United States, and it’s
the work that we do here in the Western Hemisphere, the place that we all live. I looked at the
list of where my previous – where the previous secretaries of state has traveled, and too
often there was neglect to the places most close to us. I want to start with the big picture in Latin
America. In just the last few years, we’ve seen some
truly remarkable things. Many nations have made a sharp turn towards democracy and capitalism,
good government, away from dictatorship and socialism and the corruption that has been
endemic in some of those countries. You see this just in the past few weeks. The
Bolivians are rebuilding their democracy even as we sit here today. No one in the region
any longer believes that authoritarianism is the way forward, that it’s the right
path, whether you stare at the people in Cuba or in Nicaragua or in Venezuela. They all
can see the path forward is different from what they have been living. When I was in Chile back in April, we saw
how people there used their new democratic power for good causes. In July, nations of
the region got together and began their first concerted effort to combat terrorism. Argentina
designated Hizballah as a terrorist organization – first time ever that they had contemplated
something like that. Regional multilateral organizations too, like
the Organization of American States and the Lima Group are members of a treaty called
the Rio Treaty. They have taken the lead. They have allowed America to be the supporting
effort in helping the Venezuelan people move towards achieving their desire for freedom,
liberty, and to simply take care of their own families. It was the summer, just a few months ago,
when the Organization of American States put out its first ever statement affirming the
right to religious freedom, something this administration has taken to heart and worked
on tirelessly. And Bolivia, as I said before, appointed its
first ambassador to the United States in over a decade. There is more democratic cooperation in our
hemisphere today than at any point in history, and we’re proud of the fact that we have
been a part of helping them get to that place. We do this for a couple of reasons. This gets
to how President Trump thinks about the world. We support it because people should be free
to exercise their unalienable right to self-government. We support it because political freedom goes
hand in hand with economic freedom, and economic flourishing, and trade with these nations
benefits the people here in Kentucky and all across America. And we support it, too, because it’s simply
the right thing to do. Authoritarian regimes don’t go easily, however.
Take a look at Maduro; he’s hanging on today. He rules Venezuela, but will never again govern
it. But make no mistake, he and other dictators like him will work to continue to suppress
their people. Cuba, too, has tried to hijack legitimate
democratic protests in its country and in the region to drive them towards their ideologic
ends. Colombia has closed its border to Venezuela out of concern that protesters from – terrorists
from Venezuela might enter. And the Maduro regime continues not to place
any value on human life and human suffering, and their current lawful president, Juan Guaido,
is working diligently to achieve that freedom for their people. You see, too, malign interference in the region.
We’ve worked tirelessly to push back against it. Today, in Venezuela, Rosneft, which is
Russia’s state-backed oil company, continues to prop up the corrupt and illegitimate Maduro
leadership. They take billions of dollars out of the Venezuelan economy each and every
year. We’ve tried to drive with moral and strategic
clarity the recognition that authoritarianism in our hemisphere is a threat – it’s a
threat to us here in the United States. We cannot tolerate these regimes inviting bad
actors in, and trying to turn allied democracies into dictatorships. Indeed, the Maduro regime
has permitted Iranians to come into their country, posing an even greater threat here
to the United States. And we’ve done so in a way that’s been realistic, within the
capacity of the American power to achieve the ends that we’re seeking to achieve. So what did we do? We rolled back the Obama
administration’s cuddling up to Cuba by applying heavy new sanctions. We’ve recognized
that engagement has not improved Cuba’s regime, it hasn’t made it better; the human
rights record was worse, the risk to the Cuban people was worse, and the risk to the United
States was worse, and their capacity to influence Venezuela even greater. So we’ve changed
that. We’ve allowed Americans to seek justice
by suing the regime in Havana to recover property that it stole a long time ago. It only makes
sense when Americans had their stuff stolen to give them a chance to get it back. And we’ve applauded countries that have
expelled Cubans who have come to live as doctors inside of their borders, who were really working
on behalf of the government. These doctors – this was a program that’s hard to fathom
sometimes. They sent doctors to countries all around the world. They traffic to generate
income for the Cuban leadership. So the doctors receive 10 or 20 percent of the revenue that
they generate, and the rest goes to fund the Cuban regime. We see these tyrants in the region for what
they are, and we craft policies to confront them, not to appease them. And this really gets to the second point.
Our policy on Venezuela is mixed with restraint. We’ve seen folks calling for regime change
through violent means, and we’ve said since January that all options are on the table
to help the Venezuelan people recover their democracy and prosperity. That is certainly
still true. But we’ve learned from history that the
risks from using military force are significant, so we’ve instead worked to deprive Maduro
and his cronies of oil revenue that goes to the – that should go to the Venezuelan people
in the regime’s pockets. We’ve been ruthless in attacking the drug
cartels that traffic drugs into the United States out of Venezuela. And we built a coalition. This administration
has often talked about going it alone. We built a coalition of 57 other allies and partners
to maximize both the economic and political pressure that we’ve put on the regime. And I was talking with Secretary Baker in
celebration of 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He reminded me that there
are critiques that say, well, Maduro is still there. You’ve been working on this for months
and months and he’s still there. And he reminded me that Eric Honecker was still in
East Germany until the day that he was not. And there were articles in the months leading
up to that glorious event for freedom across the world that, too, if we do it right and
do it well and represent American values, that Maduro, too, will fall. In July of 1989, Nicolae Ceaucescu said capitalism
would come to Romania “when apples grew on poplar trees.” And by December he was hanging from a rope.
The end will come for Maduro as well. We just don’t know what day. Our patience, too, can be seen in Nicaragua,
where President Trump is working on economic sanctions to restore democracy there. And
this demands some level of consistency and relentlessness, and the American people should
know that the Trump administration will continue to be relentless. Secretary Baker reminded me too that in 1950,
people were questioning why America hadn’t yet succeeded in bringing down the Soviet
Union. Then, one day in 1991, it was also gone. The end came slowly, and then it came
really fast. Unending pressure and sensible restraint was the right combination then,
and I’m confident that it is now as well. Lastly, our foreign policy is built on respect.
It’s respect for our principles as enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and our
Constitution, and respect for how our neighbors and allies run their affairs. President Trump knows too that a poorly secured
border violates Americans’ enjoyment of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It undermines the rule of law, compromises security, it enables human trafficking, and
the President’s taken on these problems. That’s a basic respect for American ideals. One of the diplomatic successes that I’m
most proud of is delivering on that obligation in partnership with Mexico and countries throughout
South America. It is diplomacy undergirded by frank talk, by respect between neighbors
and friends. We simply ask Mexico and the Northern Triangle
countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to do more inside of their own country to
stop the flow of illegal immigration coming towards Mexico and to the United States. We
had to cut off some foreign assistance to show that we were serious. But we didn’t tell them how to run their
country to address it. We just insisted that they be good neighbors, and look at the results. I’m pleased to say we’ve taken in each
of those countries important steps. For example, thanks to an amazing new leader
in Ecuador¹ – President Bukele – detentions of Salvadorans illegally trying to enter the
United States are down 80 percent. That’s really good work on his part. And our relationship
with El Salvador is stronger for it. We’ve returned foreign assistance; we will help
the El Salvadorians be successful and build out their own great country. In that same vein of respect, we’ve told
our friends that predatory Chinese activities can lead them to deals that seem attractive,
but in the end are bad for their people, bad for their own nation. But we don’t try to stop them from doing
business with the Chinese Communist Party. We work with them to strengthen their systems,
to strengthen transparency, to help them understand the threats that face their country from doing
deals where the Chinese loan them money and then foreclose on important assets inside
of their country. That’s respect. We let each leader make its own decisions, but we
do our work to help support them. In Haiti, as it’s tried to form a government
and overcome instability, we have offered a helping hand. Here in our hemisphere, the
United States has not rushed in with solutions forced in Washington; we have provided assistance. We’ve told the new Argentine Government
that we’re ready to work with them despite not seeing eye-to-eye on significant foreign
policy issues. That’s respect. And finally, it means respecting people’s
yearning to be free – we know this here in the United States – ensuring that religious
freedom can be had all across the world, that economic rights are protected, helping them
seize honest opportunities for prosperity in their own countries. We have seen protests in a number of nations
– in Bolivia, in Chile, in Colombia, and in Ecuador. Those protests reflect the character
of legitimate democratic governments and democratic expression inside of their countries. Governments
should respect that, the way democracies do. We are so blessed here. America remains the
greatest example in democracy in the history of the world. And so we in the Trump administration will
continue to support countries trying to prevent Cuba and Venezuela from hijacking those protests. And we’ll work with legitimate governments
to prevent protests from morphing into riots and violence that don’t reflect the democratic
will of the people. And we’ll be vigilant too. Vigilant that
new democratic leaders don’t exploit people’s frustrations to take power, to hijack the
very democracy that got them there. That’s the kind of respect that we owe to other governments,
for people, so that they can have democracy in their own nations. I’ll end here. So I want to spend – leave
plenty of time for questions. I’m proud of what we’ve done in the region.
There remains an awful lot of work to do in our own backyard, in our own hemisphere. The
good news is that the sun of democracy is dawning in many places close to us. Whatever its day brings, we’ll approach
it with our friends in a spirit of realism and restraint and support for the peoples
of our region. Thank you, and God bless you. God bless Kentucky.
And God bless the United States of America. Thank you for having me. (Applause.)

18 Replies to ““Diplomatic Realism, Restraint, and Respect in Latin America””

  1. Hang Pompeo for war crimes against Afghanistan's citizens were being tortured by Americans when Pompeo was head of the CIA when Afghanistan citizens were being tortured by Americans

  2. (10:35) Nicola Ceausescu was not hanging from a rope in December. He was shot alongside his wife by a firing squad. I get the point though.

  3. Maduro's regime is a real danger to the United States and our way of living! We need to STOP DRUG cartels and Comunism systems in the Americas! We don't want a SOVIET LATIN AMERICAN!

  4. Secretary Pompeo, about REALISM @2:43: "Stare at the problem set as it is, no as you wish it were to be."

    -Juan Guaido, interim president of Venezuela is a BOY, an empty suit, MANHANDLED by CRIMINALS. Our TAX dollars are being Thrown AWAY and GIVEN to the FACADE of the REGIME. Guaido proved to be a FAKE, like all the traditional politicians that form the so called Frente Amplio. IT IS A FAKE opposition and there are a lot of FACTS that prove it, I'm sure YOU Mr. Secretary, know very well. Ask the Texas Oil Lobby and Mr. Tillerson, or former Ambassador Thomas Shannon; I'm sure they must all be on the Democrat bandwagon for impeachment of the president, because they have A LOT to hide.

    Like what you are hiding now about how some of the funds that have been spent by "venezuelan house members" in bars and brothels of CUCUTA. Money that ,according to sources, came from US taxpayers DOLLARS.

    An incident that, as you know by now, has caused a lovers quarrel between Interim Ambassador to Colombia Calderon Berti and his president Guaido. It cost him his post. I can only wonder in amusement who will be picked for that very important post. *****If it's not a Right wing Hardliner*****, THEN Mr. Secretary, you will continue to THROW OUR US TAX DOLLARS AWAY.

    WE ( USA ) are NOT helping VENEZUELANS , and the hemisphere by CONTINUING to provide financial support to the WRONG PEOPLE!. The State department MUST look for Alternative leadership in Venezuela, from the REAL opposition.

    It is a BLATANT LIE, that Juan Guaido is working diligently to achieve Freedom. The only Freedom Juan Guaido seeks is for HIMSELF and HIS CRONIES! The Venezuelan Media, Press and TV are COMPLETELY controlled by those who wish for the perpetuation of the STATUS QUO, and that INCLUDES Juan Guaido. Our TAX dollars are going to the WRONG PEOPLE. To CRIMINALS. Did you know that Mr. Secretary?

    Secretary Pompeo, ALL flights to CUBA must STOP, including those to HAVANA. They will NEVER stop, the FARC and ELN will never stop, CHINA with their HUGE PAYROLL will never stop. China continues to use money as a weapon against the interests of the US, here in OUR HEMISPHERE.

    THIS Mr. Secretary IS REALISM or what will the CIA call it Sir? Oh yes, I almost forgot, the CIA and intelligence community are DISFUNCTIONAL… it seems they all have a deep state swamp of their own. Doing a little business here and there.

    Maybe the US should cut all AID to Venezuela, and let them drown in their misery, until they grow the will to start fighting for their freedom, for REAL. I'm sure the State Department would know the right time to provide the kind of HELP that makes a REAL difference, not throwing away US tax payer dollars in … the scum of the earth.

    They Love to Laugh and dance Mr. Secretary, and Guaido is doing it now, at our faces.

  5. that was your mistake, remember that you are a military nation, and you are made of people from all the nations, but you managed to make enemies, which is bad for you, because you are imploding, preventing a civil war in usa now, seems unlikely.

  6. 'I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment' – Pompeo

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