(Bloomberg) Secretary of State Michael Pompeo blamed China and Russia for spreading “disorder” in Latin America by funding failing development projects and supporting leaders such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who the U.S. insists must step down from power.
Pompeo, speaking Friday in Chile at the start of a three-day South American tour, said Beijing and Moscow have fueled corruption and sought to undermine democracy across the region. He cited a failing dam project in Ecuador, Chinese loans to the Maduro and Chavez regimes in Venezuela and support for police training programs in Nicaragua.
When China does business in Latin America, Pompeo said, “it often injects corrosive capital into the economic bloodstream, giving life to corruption, and eroding good governance.” Along with Russia, the two countries come to the region to “spread disorder,” he added.
The top U.S. diplomat is in the region to sustain support for efforts to force Maduro from power. He met with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera earlier Friday and will continue on to Paraguay, Peru and a Colombian town on the border with Venezuela on Sunday.
In Peru, Pompeo said he’ll convene a meeting to focus on the healthcare needs of Venezuelan refugees, who have settled across the region as humanitarian conditions in their home country, which has some of the world’s largest oil reserves, worsen.
As part of the broader pressure campaign on Maduro, Pompeo said the U.S. has revoked visas for 718 people and sanctioned over 150 individuals and entities. On Friday, the U.S. sanctioned four companies it says transport much of the 50,000 barrels of oil that Venezuela provides to Cuba each day.