Puebla, Mexico, August 24, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela has announced it will end visa free travel for Panama nationals, in response to a similar move by the Central American nation.
On Tuesday, Panama’s government said it would begin requiring visas for Venezuelan visitors as of October 1. The new travel requirements are in response to Venezuela’s political situation, according to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela.
"Given the break in the democratic order in Venezuela, a situation that puts at risk our security, our economy ... and after a careful analysis, I've taken the decision to demand visas from Venezuelan citizens wanting to travel to Panama," Varela said during a televised address.
Valera made the announcement just days after he met with US Vice President Mike Pence, and he said the new restrictions will be in place until “democratic order” is restored in Caracas.
Venezuela has responded by imposing reciprocal restrictions on Panamanian travellers, and accusing the US of swaying Varela.
"The contribution of Venezuelans to the Panamanian economy is indisputable, but after the visit of VP Pence, the order has been given,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza stated.
"Venezuela receives with indignation [the] anti-integrationist measure of Panama. We will work on reciprocity and reserve [the right] to complementary measures," he added.
Venezuela and Panama have had a strained relationship in recent years, with President Nicolas Maduro accusing the Central American nation of being too close to the US in the past.
In March 2014, Maduro severed diplomatic ties with Panama, after accusing the country of involvement in an "open conspiracy" against him. On that occasion, the Panamanian government had, with US and Candian backing, ceded its seat at the Organization of American States to hard-right Venezuelan politician Maria Corina Machado amid violent anti-government protests that year. Formal diplomatic relations were restored five months later.