In an interview on the Catholic television channel EWTN-TV, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discusses several issues relating to US foreign affairs, including the economic situation in Mexico, the USMCA, and his upcoming trip to Latin America. The transcript below was edited to only include issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean.
QUESTION: You’re on your way to Mexico, South America, Central America, Puerto Rico. There are reports that the Mexican economy is teetering here, about to fall into recession if it hasn’t already. Are you concerned that the lack of momentum in Congress to pass the new North American free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, that that could further destabilize Mexico and perhaps increase the problems we’re seeing at the border?
SECRETARY POMPEO: There’s a real risk of that. I think the USMCA is important. I hope that Congress will take it up, I hope that Speaker Pelosi will choose to move forward and round up enough Democrat votes to support it. It’s important not only for the Mexican economy, for the American economy, and the Canadian economy as well; it’s the right thing to do for American business and American workers, and I hope that we can get that done. There is an immigration element to it as well. A successful Mexican economy reduces the magnet that is this amazing economy that we’re experiencing here in the United States today.
QUESTION: What’s going to be your message to our partners there, and particularly Puerto Rico? And Puerto Rico, obviously, is American territory. There is some instability, a lot of protests now against the current governor. What’s going to be your message there?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, goodness. I don’t know that I have the – my message in Puerto Rico will be – it’s our own territory.
QUESTION: It’s our own territory, yeah.
SECRETARY POMPEO: But the message more broadly to the foreign countries to which I’m headed is: America is your partner. We will be your best friend. We’ll do – we’ll trade with you. We abide by the rule of law. We’re transparent and we’re a democracy. We are stable. We’ll be with you for the long haul. You should be a good partner for us. And we’ve seen this transformation throughout South America of democratic countries – this is fantastic, and we hope Venezuela is added to that list before too long as well.
QUESTION: Before I let you go, this ministerial this week on religious freedom, I know this is personal to you. Tell people why this is so personal and where this comes from. I mean, you’re the man who initiated this.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So this was generated because it’s the right thing to do for America. Religious freedom is our first freedom here in the United States. But it is special for me personally. I am an Evangelical Christian. My faith informs my behavior. I hope I can get it right most days. It is special in that it’s not about promoting Christianity. It’s everyone having this chance. I live in this amazing country that permits me to practice my faith as I see fit. I was a Sunday school teacher. I was a deacon at the church. We were permitted to do those things. I want every human being to have those same kind of opportunities.
QUESTION: Yeah, that’s a real human right.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great to be with you.
QUESTION: Pleasure to be with you and safe travels.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir.