Secretary Rice says the twin challenge in Latin America is to promote democracy and help alleviate poverty.
Ms. Rice will also travel to Colombia, Chile and El Salvador. Her diplomatic trip coincides with political turmoil in Ecuador, continuing civil war in Colombia, and increasingly confrontational comments from Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.
Ms. Rice has indicated she will raise concerns during her trip about Venezuela and its status in the region.
On Sunday, the Venezuelan leader said he is ending 35 years of military cooperation with the United States, accusing U.S. military advisors of encouraging rebellion.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.