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Mike Pompeo assures in Brazil that the United States will remove Nicolás Maduro from power

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Ernesto Araújo (out of the frame), offer a press conference this Friday, September 18 in Pacaraima (Brazil).Gildo Junior / EFE

The Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, described Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as a drug trafficker and, without giving further details, said that Washington “is going to remove” him from the position he occupies. “We must not forget that he is destroying his own country and he is also a drug trafficker. It is impacting the life of America. But we’re going to get him out of there, ”Pompeo warned. Donald Trump’s representative for foreign policy visited the city of Boa Vista, capital of Roraima, on the Brazilian border with Venezuela on Friday.

This week, a report from the United Nations (UN) has accused the Maduro government of crimes against humanity since 2014. Among them is the systematic use of torture and murder. Pompeo’s trip also has as a backdrop, the campaign for the re-election of Donald Trump and the constant criticism of the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

The secretary wants to show the Latino voter that the United States still has influence in the region. Only in Brazil did he meet with the country’s main authority. This Friday, President Bolsonaro inaugurated works in two cities in the state of Mato Grosso.

In Suriname, Pompeo met with the president, Chan Santokhi. In Guyana, with Irfaan Ali. And in Colombia, a meeting with President Iván Duque is scheduled. On Sunday he will head to Texas, a state with strong influence from the Latino community.

In Boa Vista, Pompeo was received by Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo. The two made almost unanimous speeches of repudiation of the Venezuelan government. Araújo said that Nicolás Maduro’s regime should “disappear.” Pompeo said that Venezuela should return to democracy.

Internal discomfort

Pompeo’s visit to Brazil caused discomfort in the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia. In a note, the parliamentarian said that the meeting in Boa Vista a month and a half before the US elections “does not correspond to good international diplomatic practice and violates the traditions of autonomy and pride” of Brazil’s foreign policy. Maia affirmed that the Constitution establishes that governments must guide their international relations in accordance with the principles of national independence, self-determination of the peoples, non-intervention and defense of peace. No representative of the Brazilian or US governments responded to the criticism.

In the meeting with Araújo, Pompeo highlighted his interest in maintaining the alliance he has with Brazil. And he revealed that since the South American country began receiving Venezuelan migrants in February 2018, the United States transferred around $ 80 million to it. The sum represents 20% of the cost of Operation Acolhida, a humanitarian action that receives migrants and tries to insert them into the country’s communities.

By ensuring support for Latin countries, the United States also wants to ensure that large numbers of migrants do not go to its territory. References to Operation Acolhida did not sit well with some NGOs. The director of the Conectas human rights program, Camila Asano, affirmed that it was “hypocritical” on the part of the Bolsonaro government to highlight the achievements of the program because it has not received migrants since March, when the pandemic began. “The rules on the closure of Brazilian borders have been relaxed in recent months and today allow the entry of tourists and investors by air, but still prohibit the entry of people fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela,” she said.

The journalists asked Pompeo and Araújo how they viewed the concessions Brazil was making to the United States in a pre-election period. They both denied that there was any problem about it. In recent weeks, Brazil has been ahead of US interests and has renounced its own candidacy for the presidency of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to support a name suggested by Trump, extending the import of US ethanol to lower tariffs and did not object to Washington’s announcement that it would cut 80% of Brazilian steel imports.

“This is a relationship. It is not a transaction. The partners work together, ”Pompeo said. Foreign Minister Araújo, meanwhile, said that the two countries have a long-term and diversified relationship. In the case of the IDB, he defended the election of Mauricio Claver-Carone, despite the fact that his name broke the tradition that the bank’s management leaves to a Latin American. “The issue is not so much nationality, but the program, which will be good for Brazil.”

This Friday was the third of four stops that Pompeo made on a regional tour to strengthen the influence of the United States in the region. Before he was in Suriname and Guyana. After Brazil, you will visit Colombia. It was also Pompeo’s second visit to Brazil. The first was in January 2019, when he represented Trump in Bolsonaro’s inauguration.