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Venezuela restores ties with Panama as new president sworn in

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-02

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that his government is restoring full diplomatic relations with Panama following the inauguration of the central American country’s new president.

Maduro angrily broke off relations on March 5 after Panama requested that the Organization of American States (OAS) urgently address a political crisis in Venezuela that resulted from months of violent anti-government protests.

Maduro used the anniversary of former president Hugo Chavez’s death to accuse Panama’s conservative government of joining the United States in an “open conspiracy” against him.

Panama had said in May that consular relations would be restored soon on Venezuela’s wishes but Maduro indicated on Tuesday that this extended to full diplomatic cooperation.

“I send a greeting to the president of Panama. We have re-established diplomatic and political relations with Panama this very day,” Maduro said in a televised address following the swearing-in of Juan Carlos Varela as Panama’s president.
“We are going to deepen economic, diplomatic, trade and energy relations. Applause and a hug to the Panamanian people,” he said, wearing a tracksuit top in the yellow, blue and red colours of the Venezuelan flag.

Maduro’s government survived weeks of protest marches from February that resulted in more than 40 deaths and which erupted from anger at insecurity, inflation and shortages of basic goods.

Varela was sworn in as Panama’s president pledging to fight corruption and freeze prices of staple foods.

There has been no comment from Panama, but Varela, a conservative, has repeatedly said he would work to restore relations with Venezuela’s socialist government. Varela has said that he and Maduro have a friendship dating back to when they were the foreign ministers for their countries.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)

Date created : 2014-07-02

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