Venezuela breaks diplomatic relations with Panama
05/03/2014 - Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro today broke trade and diplomatic relations with Panama.
"I have decided to break political and diplomatic relations with the current government of Panama and freeze all economic and trade relations," he said.
Maduro accused the government of Ricardo Martinelli of "conspiring" against his socialist administration.
The move came after Panama requested a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss the situation of violence in the South American nation, which has left at least 18 dead and 250 wounded.
"We will not allow anyone to treat our homeland with impunity," said Maduro during a ceremony in memory of former President Hugo Chávez, who died a year ago.
Maduro said Martinelli is not "worthy of his people" and claimed he has been actively working against Venezuela.
"Panama is the place of Omar Torrijos, it is the place where he was a liberator who was facing conspiracies, the same as I am today," he said.
Previously, Maduro said that the request to discuss the situation in Venezuela at the permanent council of the OAS was nothing more than an "interventionist" measure and that he would respond to any "attack" on national sovereignty.
The Venezuelan head of state said that the OAS has "a 60-year history of ill-fated coups" in the region.
Panama Ambassador to the OAS Arturo Vallarino today announced that the permanent council will discuss the Venezuela situation tomorrow in Washington D.C. The meeting had initially been convened for Feb. 25, but was postponed by internal administrative procedures of the OAS.
Martinelli, on his Twitter account, expressed his surprise at the Venezuelan decision.
"Panama only longs for that country to find peace and strengthen its democracy," he wrote.
Venezuela had already accused Panama of meddling in its internal affairs several weeks ago. It had already withdrawn its ambassador.