Prior to his speech to the United Nations, President Donald Trump and members of his cabinet met with several Latin American leaders for dinner in New York City on Monday.
Trump spoke with Michel Temer of Brazil, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Juan Carlos Varela of Panama, and Pedro Kuczynski of Peru, to discuss the economic growth of the region and the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. Vice President Mike Pence, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joined the dinner.
President Trump said prior to the dinner, “I'm thrilled to host this important dinner with leaders of some of the greatest allies in the Western Hemisphere, and that is so true.”
He criticized the Venezuelan government, saying, “The socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has inflicted terrible misery and suffering on the good people of that country. His corrupt regime destroyed a thriving nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and despair everywhere it has been tried.”
Trump continued, “To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule. The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing. It was one of the wealthiest countries in the world for a long period of time. And now the people are starving and the country is collapsing. Who would think that's possible?”
He also praised U.S. trade partnerships with the countries, asserting, “We're fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with all of the countries gathered here today. They're doing very well with the United States. We want to try and change that a little bit so we can turn the tables just a little bit. You're doing very well, and I congratulate you all.”
Pence, who just completed a tour of Latin America, agreed, “And I echo your strong affirmation of the partnerships that are represented at this table — partnerships for prosperity, partnerships for security, and we look forward to continuing to work with all the leaders at this table to promote the mutual prosperity of all of our nations throughout this hemisphere.”
Tillerson added, “And these are all very important countries to the United States’ relationship in the Western Hemisphere economically, but also from a security standpoint. We have many, many shared issues to fight against crime, fight against corruption, narcotics trade, and all of you are very important in the cooperation that we receive in working together toward these shared goals.”
Haley concluded, “We just want to welcome everyone to New York. I can tell you that in the United Nations, really, your ambassadors are great friends. And we have started to work really closely together because your region matters, and the partnerships and the friendships need to be solid so we don't wait until crisis hits, but that we are already partnering in every way that we can.”
You can watch the remarks below: