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After presenting a new strategy on Latin America to a crowd of right-wing Venezuelans and Colombians in Florida, the US National Security Adviser traveled to the two Latin American nations, emphasizing "maximum pressure" towards Venezuela.
On Monday, the top Trump administration official for national security began the tour to key U.S. allies to discuss Venezuela, China, and private investment.
Just a day before, on Sunday, O'Brien met with conservative ex-pats at the Hilton Hotel in West Palm Beach, hoping to galvanize support for President Trump's 2020 presidential campaign. His "Back to the Americas" initiative, meant to "promote democracy and economic growth" in the region, includes economic support for U.S. allies Colombia and Panama to counter China's increased regional presence and investments in infrastructure.
Other political and military officials joined O'Brien—who in September 2019 replaced John Bolton—on the U.S. government delegation, such as Craig Faller, head of the U.S. Southern Command; Mauricio Claver-Carone, Trump's nominee to the Inter-American Development Bank; and Phillip Goldberg, U.S. ambassador to Colombia.
Trump's chief adviser on Latin America, Claver-Carone made it clear that the priority of O'Brien's trip was Venezuela, an issue which "concerns Washington," he stated.
During his visits, O'Brien, who tested positive for Covid-19 less than a month ago, met with Panamanian President Nito Cortizo and Colombian President Ivan Duque. Within the framework of the America Crece (Growth in the Americas) initiative, O'Brien and Duque also announced the creation of Colombia Crece; a long-term multi-billion-dollar plan carried out by the International Development Finance Corporation to supposedly fight drug trafficking and bring private sector investment to areas impacted by this phenomenon.
In a recent interview with Prensa Latina, lawyer Jose Pertierra stated that these visits are a strategic part of Trump's electoral aspirations and the need to win Florida.
"He wants to win Florida at all cost and surveys show that an anti-Cuba and anti-Venezuela policy can give him votes by the extreme right wing-community there. There is no way to the White House for the Republicans without going through Florida," Pertierra said.