Vastavam web: US Vice President Mike Pence thanked Brazil today for welcoming Venezuelans fleeing their country’s collapse, while warning Central Americans running from violence in their homelands not to attempt to enter the United States illegally. Pence announced that the United States will provide nearly USD 10 million more to support Venezuelan migrants, including USD 1.2 million that will go to Brazil, but he urged Central Americans to “build your lives in your homeland.”
The seemingly contradictory messages underscored the delicate dance the United States is trying to perform: It wants to punish and isolate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government while mitigating the effects on the Venezuelan people. “Don’t risk your lives or the lives of your children by trying to come to the United States on a road run by drug smugglers and human traffickers,” he said. “If you can’t come legally, don’t come at all.” During their meeting, Pence and Temer spoke about Brazilian children separated from their parents who were detained while crossing the US-Mexico border.
Temer told reporters that he asked for Pence’s “special attention to secure the rapid reunification of families.” Venezuela, which is experiencing an economic collapse worse than the Great Depression, was supposed to be the focus of Pence’s trip to the region this week before controversy over American immigration policies in recent weeks forced the vice president to shift gears. “Venezuela’s collapse is creating a humanitarian crisis leading to widespread deprivation, the denial of basic services and starvation,” Pence said. “It has spurred the largest cross-border mass exodus in the history of our hemisphere.”
The vice president praised Brazil’s support of economic sanctions against its neighbour and for taking the lead in efforts to isolate Maduro, even as he said Brazil and other nations in the region should do more. Pence will visit a centre for Venezuelan migrants in the Brazilian Amazon on Wednesday.Other than the discussion of migrants, Pence’s visit appeared light on substance, as was expected given that Temer is deeply unpopular and a lame duck ahead of October elections.
Both leaders said they would work to lower trade barriers after the US imposed restrictions recently on imports of Brazilian steel and aluminium. Pence’s visit comes at a time when soccer-mad Brazilians have their focus on the World Cup in Russia, where Brazil plays Serbia on Wednesday. During initial comments to the press, Temer joked that he hoped Pence would support Brazil’s team if it goes all the way. Pence said he would root for Brazil – while he is on Brazilian soil. Pence next heads to Ecuador, where he is expected to continue to call for more pressure on Venezuela.