Panama Latest to Heed US Call to Reject Venezuelan Elections

Panama called Venezuela's May 20 elections "illegitimate", joining Washington and fourteen other conservative regional governments in refusing to recognize the outcome. 

Panama rejects Venezuelan elections

Merida, March 19, 2018, ( – Panama said Tuesday it will not recognize the results of Venezuela’s upcoming general elections, calling the May 20 vote “illegitimate” 

“We are stating clearly, that these elections, in the way in which they have been called, are illegitimate and Panama is not going to recognize the results,” stated Panamanian Vice-President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado in an interview with Eco 360 radio. 

Her government expressed “great concern” about Venezuelan elections, claiming that they “do not allow an effective participation from political groups”.

Earlier this month, Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that presidential elections will be held on May 20, alongside state and municipal legislative races. The move came after a deal was reached between the alliance of pro-Maduro leftist parties and a group of opposition parties that broke ranks with the main anti-government Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition, which is boycotting the vote. 

There are five presidential candidates registered, three from the right-wing and two from the left, including incumbent Nicolas Maduro. Seventeen political parties are participating, with the exception of those conforming the MUD alliance.

In rejecting the May 20 elections, Panama joins Washington and fourteen other regional conservative governments of the anti-Maduro Lima Group, who declared the vote “illegitimate” in February on the grounds that the original April 22 date did not provide opposition parties sufficient time for campaigning. The Trump administration and its allies have given no indication that they will change their position despite the recent postponement of the elections to May 20 alongside a host of new electoral guarantees

In recent weeks, the White House has ramped up pressure on Caracas, unveiling this past Monday a new executive order banning all US transactions in Venezuela’s new Petro cryptocurrency as well as any other crypto-currencies aimed at circumventing US financial sanctions on the South American country. 

Meanwhile, it was also reported on Monday that the US Charge D’Affairs in Caracas, Todd Robinson, made a visit to opposition presidential frontrunner Henri Falcon in which he allegedly pressured him to drop out of the race. Sources close to Falcon have previously revealed that the center-right candidate was threatened with sanctions by the Trump administration if he did not withdraw his candidacy. 

Falcon has, however, rejected calls for him to withdraw, and just last week he made a trip to the headquarters of the United Nations in New York to lobby for an international observer mission for the upcoming elections. The proposed delegation has been publicly opposed by the MUD and other anti-government organizations grouped under the newly formed Broad Front for a Free Venezuela. Himself a former Chavista, Falcon was expelled from the MUD in February after registering his candidacy with the CNE.