Mexico's government, and particularly the foreign ministry, has pushed hard to defend NAFTA, a lynchpin of its export-led economy, ahead of a July 2018 election in which the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party is now polling third.
"If the kitchen gets a little too hot for him, I'm sure he's got some friends in Cuba that can give him a nice hacienda on the beach and he can have a nice life over there", Tillerson said.
Also, the Los Angeles Times reports that several Latin American countries, including Mexico, had earlier voiced their concerns about Trump's intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), warning that they may reconsider their cooperation with the USA on other matters if the deal breaks down.
Tillerson said many countries in Latin America, such as Venezuela and Peru, have untapped energy resources. Robert Charles, former assistant secretary of state for President George W. Bush, told Fox News that the secretary's trip is important to stem the influx of illicit drug trade into the U.S.
Sources from the State Department said before the trip that Tillerson brings the White House's intention to continue promoting regional intervention in Venezuela's internal affairs. But, he added, "it should come as no surprise" that a 30-year-old agreement negotiated before the advent of digital economies and China's rise to prominence on the world economic stage would "need to be modernized".
Before departing on a diplomatic trip to Mexico and then South America, Tillerson was scheduled to address an audience at the University of Texas, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1975.
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The Mexican government is offended by U.S. President Donald Trump's proposals to curb illegal immigration and have Mexico pay for a reinforced border wall and is concerned about U.S. threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But that economic growth can only spring from strong, stable governments, he said.
"The Venezuelan people suffer because of a corrupt regime that steals form its own people", said Tillerson. "We must root out corruption in all of its forms".
Tillerson delivered a speech today at the University of Austin, created to publicly set the priorities of the Trump administration's policy in the Western Hemisphere before its Latin American tour.
Washington's other bugbear is Venezuela's beleaguered leftist regime, which in earlier years was a rival centre of influence for Latin American nations seeking a way out of poverty.
"You can not expect to have one without the other", he said.
Luz Maria de la Mora is an expert on USA and Latin American diplomacy. "You always bleed orange once you've been here, and I think it's really cool to see that in prominent individuals".