Ex-Ambassador to Venezuela: Pompeo “positive change” for Latin America Policy

Charles Shapiro argues that Mike Pompeo will right the ship at the US State Department, particularly with Venezuela.

CIA head Mike Pompeo has been appointed to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State (Flickr).

President Donald Trump announced through his Twitter account this Tuesday that he decided to replace current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo. There were rumors of the change for some time, so for many, like Council of World Affairs president and 2002-04 ambassador to Venezuela Charles Shapiro, the changes were far from surprising.

“Tillerson never achieved the confidence of President Trump…and could not build a personal relationship with the president and it is extremely important that the president has confidence in the Secretary of State,” Shapiro explained in an interview with the PanAm Post.

Tillerson “was a disaster”

As a career diplomat, Shapiro pointed out that the change was necessary not only because Tillerson had defended, on various occasions, positions that contrasted with the President, but also because he had been “a disaster for the State Department.”

Currently, there are “gaps within the structure of the Department of State” caused by high-ranking officials who have chosen to leave the department due to “the direction of Tillerson’s leadership,” said the expert, noting that “people were never named to fill or assume” vacant positions.

“In my opinion, Tillerson destroyed the confidence of career diplomats and officials within the State Department,” he added.

A positive change for the United States

Shapiro, a former US ambassador, commented that, for him, Trump’s decision is a step in the right direction. The government will “get a lot out of the knowledge” from the CIA director, who seems to be “a man who understands what is happening around the world,” besides being “very wise about North Korea.”

Although he also suggested there were only two realistic options within for theTrump team to choose for a new Secretary of State: either the United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, or Pompeo. Shapiro deemed the decision the correct one.

“Pompeo already has the confidence of the president” and “leaving Haley at the UN is a good decision because she has been very successful there,” he said, wishing the new secretary “all the best.”

The president himself said that Pompeo “has a tremendous energy, a tremendous intellect. We are always on the same wavelength.”

Mike Pompeo, a concern for Maduro

The appointment of Pompeo could mean greater pressure applied on the dictatorial regime of Venezuela since on various occasions; the CIA leader has expressed grave concerns regarding the humanitarian and institutional crisis that Venezuela is facing.

At the beginning of 2018, Pompeo hinted that the intelligence services were involved in the legwork for some of the sanctions imposed against the Maduro regime. If Tillerson was already considering the possibility of a military intervention in Venezuela, now the idea seems more within the realm of possibility, as Pompeo himself has not taken this option off the table.

“Venezuela could become a risk for the United States: the Cubans are there, the Russians are there, the Iranians, Hezbollah; this is something that has the risk of becoming a grave danger, and the United States needs to take this very seriously” the CIA chief has said.

Denuclearization of Korea

Trump stated that Pompeo is the right person to face America’s enemies, and stressed that one of his main objectives will be the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

“His experience in the Armed Forces, Congress and as the head of the CIA has prepared him well for this new position,” he said.

Pompeo has been considered one of the toughest talkers in terms of his North Korea position, so despite Trump’s stated intentions to negotiate, the president’s decision shows that they will not bow to the brutal dictatorship.

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