United States Vice President Michael Pence announced Monday that he will visit Ecuador at the end of June.
Prior to the official announcement, Pence spoke with President Lenin Moreno by telephone about improving bilateral relations and strengthening trade between the countries. “It was a very constructive conversation,” Moreno said. “We talked about how we can develop a stronger relationship in a number of areas of shared importance, including trade, the situation in Venezuela and the fight against drug cartels on the border.”
During the conversation, Pence sought Ecuador’s support in demanding a new presidential election in Venezuela. The issue is on the agenda at today’s meeting of the Organization of American States. Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro was reelected last month in an election in which the government banned participation by the strongest opposition parties. Less than 50 percent of the country’s voters went to the polls and opponents claim that widespread fraud occurred.
According to the U.S. embassy in Quito, Pence and Moreno also “discussed the humanitarian and economic crisis in Venezuela and the need for the U.S. and Ecuador to work together with other like-minded nations to protect and promote freedom in the hemisphere.” The message continued: “The U.S. expresses its firm commitment to build prosperity, security and democracy throughout the Latin American region.”
In a statement from his office, Pence emphasized the importance of Latin America to the U.S. “I want to announce that under the direction of President Donald Trump, I will return later this month to South America for my third visit to the region in less than a year. I will visit Brazil and Ecuador.”