The Palacio de las Garzas was the setting for Vice-President Mike Pence and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela to see the common points of the two countries: trade, security and now Venezuela. The meeting was marked by the terrorist attack unfolded on the other side of the world, in Barcelona, whose responsibility is claimed by the Islamic State and left 13 dead.
US Vice President Michael Pence toured the expansion of the Panama Canal, a work he welcomed due to its magnitude and generated millions of port and logistics investments in his country and in the region.
Pence said in one of the new locks of the road that the opening of new ports and the expansion of those existing to receive the gigantic ships that now cross the canal are a sign that "prosperity is united in our countries".
"The expansion of the canal resulted in billions of dollars of investment in the United States, good jobs were created in manufacturing, transportation and agriculture, and all the ports in the world are trying to accommodate neopanamax ships," including Miami's (Florida), which "just completed an expansion of $ 2 billion," said the vice president.
“There are different ports in the US that are adapting their venues to receive ships that crosses de Panama Canal expansion!, said Varela.
“The Panama Canal shows the ties that gather us, Both countries built the Canal”, remembered Pence.
In Panama, the last scale of Pence’s Latin American tour, Trump’s administration representative and Varela expressed his will to strengthen commercial and investment ties.
The issue of security was also highlighted in the quote. "Panama has also been able to share more information than any other part of the world to combat drug trafficking," he said. "They have seized more than all of Central America has seized," Pence added.
“The security is one of the principal issues of the region and we have remarked the challenges: production and drug trafficking, irregular migration, and the north triangle situation (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) and the Venezuelan crisis”, added Pence.
“The Panama´s leadership it is also seen in security matters and cooperation with the United States. Panama has shared more information than any other region in the world to fight the drug trafficking, They have seized more than all Central America”, said Pence.
“Panama is one of the countries that seize more drug per year, we have strengthen the security in the Colombian border”, added Varela.
“We are playing an important role about the irregular migratory movements that threatens the US, America, Panama and the rest of the countries”, explained Varela.
"The TTA has allowed Panamanian exporters the market in the United States of more than 6 billion dollars and United States investment of millions of dollars. We will continue to work for more prosperity in the future," added the US Vice President.
Varela expressed his interest in the fact that US companies participate in more Panamanian public tenders, and highlighted that Panama is a country "with a stable democracy, that advances in accountability and transparency, in the state administration and in its financial system".
“Panama is a strategic ally and parter of the US. We express our intention of open the doors to more investors to participate in infrastructure projects that we are developing. Panama has become in a gran conexion to the international trade with all the logistic system that is building up”, expressed Pence.
"The participation of the United States in the development of the maritime and logistic sector would be of mutual benefit, since in addition to adding value to the interoceanic route, it will allow US companies that use the Panama Canal to obtain greater yield of that route", said the Central American governor.
Pence again spoke against the crisis in Venezuela.
"In the coming days Panama will take actions that support the return to the democratic order to Venezuela and strengthen our internal security accompanied by migratory measures always within the framework of respect for the human rights of migrants," said Varela, in what is one more sample of the change in the position of Panama concerning the regime of Nicolás Maduro.
“We demand to President Maduro, to respect: public institutions independency, human rights, freedom and we urge to find ways to negotiate a political solution based on the constitution”, said Varela.
Pence reaffirmed his version of regarding the Venezuelan government as dictatorial. "We are going to continue working with Panama and the rest of the continent to restore democracy in Venezuela. I want to thank Varela for joining this initiative that demands democracy in Venezuela," Pence said.
Pence added that the countries of the region must participate in the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. "A failed state in Venezuela is going to generate more illicit drug traffic, more illegal migration and affect borders, affect the freedom of Panama and the rest of the countries of the region."
The day was marked by a terrorist attack in the city of Barcelona that left 13 dead and that Varela and Pence condemned and expressed solidarity with the Spanish government.
“We reject energically the terrorist attempt in Barcelona”, expressed Varela.
“Today we are going to condemn this attack, Isis claimed the attack and they have to know that the US is going to find them and punish them”, concluded Pence.
In that sense, US Vice President Michael Pence thanked Panama for having joined the global coalition against jihadist terrorism in 2015 and urged the rest of Latin America to follow suit with this because "Islamic terrorism is one of the greatest threats" faced by the world.