06 February 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed U.S. engagement in the Western Hemisphere in a speech on UT campus on Thursday, February 1, 2018. As The Wall Street Journal reported, Secretary Tillerson’s visit marked his one-year anniversary of public service in the State Department. The event, co-hosted by the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the Clements Center for National Security received local and national press coverage.

Secretary Tillerson is beginning a diplomatic tour of Central and South America. As CBS News reports, his remarks and responses to questions from students focused on key principles such as security, democracy, and economic development that the U.S. seeks to promote in the Western hemisphere. 

Los Angeles Times reported that Secretary Tillerson laid out a new, "'holistic' approach to security that tackles economic development as well as drug trafficking and transnational crime." Outlets such as Financial Times also highlighted the fresh perspective present in the secretary’s speech, during which he frequently referenced his experience as an engineer and framed problems such as drug trafficking as supply chain problems.

Secretary Tillerson spoke about several specific issues that are relevant to Latin American policy. The Hill, Fox News, and Voice of America reported Secretary Tillerson’s heated comments on instability in the region stemming from Venezuelan, Chinese, and Russian influence. Dallas Morning News also reported Secretary Tillerson’s comments on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is undergoing a “modernization” process that will have far-reaching impacts on regional trade.

The overall tone of the speech reflected a warm sense of homecoming for Secretary Tillerson, who is a UT alum. Tillerson said he felt he his visit brought him “full circle,” since the first time he left the country as a member of the Longhorn Band on a mission trip to Peru. As Daily Texan reported, members of the Longhorn Band performed “The Eyes of Texas” as a send-off for the diplomatic tour.

Other national and local outlets covering Secretary Tillerson's speech include:

A full transcript of the Secretary's remarks and Q&A are available via the Department of State website