El secretario de Estado norteamericano, Rex Tillerson, inicia este jueves su primera gira por América Latina, un viaje que utilizará, sobre todo, para incrementar la presión de Estados Unidos sobre la Venezuela de Nicolás Maduro.

La administración de Donald Trump ha hecho de Venezuela su tema principal en la política estadounidense hacia América Latina y, desde la llegada del republicano hace un año a la Casa Blanca, presiona a Maduro con rondas de sanciones que alcanzan ya a medio centenar de altos funcionarios venezolanos, entre ellos el propio presidente.

La gira de Tillerson será del 1 al 7 de febrero y lo llevará, en ese orden, a México, Argentina, Perú y Colombia. En cada uno de los países, además de reunirse con sus homólogos, tendrá encuentros con los respectivos presidentes.

“Con nuestros socios prevemos continuar presionando al corrupto régimen de Maduro para que regrese al orden democrático”, dijo esta semana un alto funcionario del Departamento de Estado, que rechazó que la estrategia no esté funcionando.

“Las sanciones financieras que hemos aplicado al gobierno venezolano lo han llevado a comenzar a estar en situación de impago”, dijo el funcionario. Estados Unidos además sigue sin descartar la posibilidad de un embargo petrolero.

Los cuatro países que visita Tillerson son seguramente los que tienen una posición más dura frente a Maduro en la región latinoamericana y todos son miembros del Grupo de Lima.

Se trata de una iniciativa en el continente americano que, dicho en el lenguaje de la diplomacia, se creó para seguir y proponer salidas a la crisis venezolana. En la práctica es un grupo de presión sobre Maduro que se formó después de que fracasaran los intentos liderados por Estados Unidos y México en la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) por condenar al presidente venezolano y forzarlo a dar marcha atrás en sus pasos autoritarios.

Estados Unidos no pertenece a él, pero sí lo apoya y anima sus movimientos.

El hasta ahora último pronunciamiento del Grupo de Lima fue para rechazar hace unos días la convocatoria de elecciones presidenciales anticipadas para antes del 30 de abril en Venezuela.

La falta de transparencia y los movimientos de Maduro para mermar el apoyo a la oposición -entre otras cosas, el Supremo le ha prohibido acudir unida a los comicios- están detrás de un rechazo al que se ha unido también Estados Unidos.

La sensación general es que, más allá de Venezuela, América Latina importa poco a la administración Trump.

México es el único país latinoamericano que ha visitado Tillerson desde que es jefe de la diplomacia estadounidense. Fue poco después de que el presidente Enrique Peña Nieto cancelara en enero de 2017 la que iba a ser su primera visita a la Casa Blanca tras la llegada de Trump al poder, después de que el jefe de la Casa Blanca lanzara uno de sus tuits incendiarios insistiendo en hacer pagar a México el muro que quiere construir en la frontera entre los dos países.

El secretario de Estado ha visitado ya todas la regiones de interés para Estados Unidos y a Latinoamérica llega más de un año después de asumir el cargo. El presidente Trump tampoco ha estado aún y no se ha confirmado todavía si acudirá o no a la Cumbre de las Américas que se celebra en abril en Perú, que podría ser una ocasión a aprovechar para que pise tierras latinoamericanas.

“Creo que este viaje se construye sobre su compromiso con el Hemisferio Occidental a lo largo del pasado año, y las reuniones que tuvo aquí en Washington con diferentes líderes demuestran que ha estado implicado”, defendió no obstante esta semana un alto funcionario del Departamento de Estado al ser preguntado sobre la posible falta de interés hacia América Latina.

En su discurso sobre el estado de la Unión del martes por la noche, el presidente Trump se refirió a la región nada más que para destacar en una única frase las sanciones impuestas a Venezuela y el endurecimiento de la política hacia Cuba.

La llegada de Tillerson a la región estará precedida por un discurso en Austin (Texas) sobre las prioridades de la política de la administración Trump en el Hemisferio Occidental.

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