Photo: Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hailed new Panamanian head of state Juan Carlos Varela and celebrated the restoration of bilateral diplomatic ties, suspended by Caracas during a spat with Panama’s previous leader.
“I sent greetings to the president of Panama, we have re-established diplomatic and political relations with Panama this very day, July 1, and we will deepen the economic, diplomatic, trade, energy relations,” the Venezuelan said Tuesday night during his radio program, “En contacto con Maduro.”
Venezuela’s vice president, Jorge Arreaza, was present Tuesday in Panama for Varela’s inauguration.
Varela signaled his intention to renew full diplomatic relations with Venezuela after winning the May 4 presidential contest and the administration of outgoing President Ricardo Martinelli began the process of restoring consular ties a few weeks later.
Caracas severed ties with Panama City on March 5 to protest what Maduro saw as Martinelli’s attempts to meddle in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
The Martinelli government proposed that the Organization of American States address the anti-Maduro protests then occurring in Venezuela.
The leftist Venezuelan government sees the OAS as a U.S.-dominated body and preferred to ask the Union of South American Nations to mediate.
Violence associated with the protests claimed the lives of more than 40 people, including both opponents and supporters of the government as well as police and bystanders.