Thursday, March 06, 2014

Maduro Goes After Panama

Nicolás Maduro's verbal attack on Panama and announcement that diplomatic and economic ties were frozen got a response from Ricardo Martinelli--this part is hard to argue with:

Rechazamos como inaceptables las ofensas proferidas por el presidente Nicolás Maduro en contra de nuestro país y su más alta autoridad. El lenguaje soez utilizado es impropio del Presidente de un hermano país.

What Martinelli had done was suggest that the OAS discuss the Venezuelan crisis and bring the two sides together in sort of dialogue. Even that made Maduro blow up. That extraordinarily exaggerated response resulted from his stated belief that Panama was plotting against him.

It's hard to interpret this as anything but straightforward paranoia. If it's a conscious strategy, then I don't see it resonating with his domestic audience (who cares about Panama?) or serving any real purpose. I guess we can set it alongside the wide variety of other conspiracy theories Maduro has claimed since the protests began.

So will trade with Panama truly be frozen? I wonder. A quick Google search suggests that the U.S. is Panama's biggest source of oil, but I don't know how Venezuelan oil fits in. Hugo Chávez did something similar with Colombia in 2009, which lasted a while and then went away after Alvaro Uribe left office. That was a particular kind of personal animus that isn't really the case with Panama.


Arnie 8:19 AM  

There is about $2 billion US (news report 1.2)that is owed by Venezuelan business, to the Free Trade Zone in Colon. Martinelli traveled to Caracas about a year ago ago to encourage MaBurro to provide the hard dollars to these businessman. Nothing came about. That is why the adjective "Mala Paga" is added in replies. The President of Panama, who is no saint, and has collected "participation" in other ventures in country, might have overplayed his hand, and provided an excuse for the Bolivariano Gorilla.

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