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Panama is considering economic sanctions against Venezuela

Isabel Saint Malo
  • EFE

Statements and sanctions come and go between Panama and Venezuela. Since the Central American country published the list of 55 officials and 16 Venezuelan companies on March 29, for considering them as "high risk in money laundering, financing of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction".

Venezuela did the same and broke economic relations for 90 days with 22 people and 46 Panamanian companies, in retaliation for sanctions from the Central American country.

But the diplomatic conflict continues and on Monday it became known that Panama is preparing "economic sanctions" against Venezuela for having reacted "aggressively and disproportionately" to the list published by the Panamanian Executive.

This was announced by Isabel De Saint Malo, Vice President and Chancellor of Panama to ensure that her country "has not taken commercial actions, but if Venezuela does not review its actions, we will react and take other proportion tougher measures, including the application of the law of retaliation and could include economic sanctions".

According to the senior official, the actions of Venezuela "hurt Venezuelans", in Panama, the bilateral relations "are in a great pause" and confirmed that the Venezuelan ambassador in Panama, Jorge Durán Centeno, has left the country, after the Panamanian government asked his withdrawal, although Caracas said last Friday that it called him for consultations.

The foreign minister recalled that "Venezuela is on the list of countries that discriminate against Panama", published last March by the Government as a "first step in the evaluation of reciprocal actions" in immigration, tax and tariff matters for the 20 jurisdictions included for applying discriminatory or restrictive measures against the Central American country.

Due to these facts, international reactions, especially from the countries of the region, have become known.

The United States not only gave a boost to the Panamanian measures and framed them as an "energetic defense of democracy and human rights" but also congratulated Varela’s administration for "promoting" stability and democracy.

"We welcome Panama's announcement on March 27 that it will strengthen the financial supervision of 55 Venezuelans and 16 Venezuelan entities, and will support other efforts in the region to combat the abuse of financial systems by corrupt actors," Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, told EFE.

Likewise, the United States urged other countries in the hemisphere to imitate Panama's measures and support the Venezuelan people and "their right to have their voices heard in free, fair and transparent elections."

Another international body that has spoken on this issue is the Lima Group, an organization that like Washington, expressed its support for Panama in the actions taken against Venezuela and regarded as "lacking in support and legal framework” the actions taken by Venezuela.

"Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru, express their support for the Republic of Panama following the measures adopted by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela against Panamanian authorities and companies," said a statement from the Lima Group released by the Panamanian Foreign Ministry.

Likewise, the countries of the Lima Group "regret that the Venezuelan government, instead of contributing with the efforts of the global community to defend democracy and human rights, as well as protecting international financial systems, continue with the breakdown of the constitutional order and international standards," reads the document.

The document reiterated "the call to the Government of Venezuela to engage in the search for a solution to the political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in that country, which affects its citizens and all the countries of the region."

The list disclosed by Panama includes senior government officials of Venezuela. President Nicolás Maduro; president of the Supreme Court of Justice Maikel Moreno; president of the National Electoral Council Tibisay Lucena; Attorney General Tarek William Saab, among others.

The Venezuelan government on Thursday suspended commercial and economic relations for 90 days renewable with a group of senior officials and 46 Panamanian companies, including the Copa airline.

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