World View: Venezuela Breaks Diplomatic Relations with Panama
- Venezuela breaks diplomatic relations with Panama
- Russia escalates the conflict over Ukraine's Crimea region
Venezuela breaks diplomatic relations with Panama
Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro has severed diplomatic relations
with Panama, accusing the country of being a "lackey" for the United
States in a conspiracy against his government. According to
There are maneuvers by the U.S. government plotting
with a lackey government that has a right-wing president who is
leaving in the next few months, who is not worthy of his people,
who has been working actively against Venezuela.
The expulsion was triggered by a Panamanian request for a meeting
of the Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss
solutions to the unrest and violence in Venezuela. Maduro
said: "Nobody will conspire with impunity to ask for an
intervention against our fatherland. Enough!"
Maduro expelled three U.S. diplomats recently on accusations of
recruiting students to hold violent, rock-throwing protests against
him. Washington has rejected the claims as baseless. But Maduro is
desperate to blame anyone he can for the disastrous economic situation
in his country, which continues to worsen, especially since the death
of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez. The inflation rate, at 56%, is the
highest in the world. The murder rate is 25,000 annually, one of the
world's highest per capita rates, and 97% of the murders go
unpunished. The supermarket shelves are bare, with shortages of
everything from toilet paper to vegetables. Anti-government protests
have been getting larger and more violent for a month.
However, Maduro's move may simply be a way to get out of paying
a debt. Venezuela owes Panama about $1 billion, mostly from
debts incurred related to use of the Panama Canal, and
for COPA, the Panamanian airline.
According to Panama's president Ricardo Martinelli:
I don't want to think that this is an excuse not to
pay and that the Venezuelan state is a deadbeat.
Venezuela would appear to be bankrupt, although it shouldn't be
because it is a very rich country.
Martinelli suggested that despite breaking diplomatic relations,
Venezuela "has no excuse" to not pay off its debts. Russia Today and CNN and AFP
Russia escalates the conflict over Ukraine's Crimea region
Russia escalated the conflict over Ukraine's Crimea region
both politically and militarily on Friday. In doing so,
hopes that the crisis might end soon seem very unrealistic.
Although Russia still refuses to admit that there are Russian
troops in Crimea, it was clear that Russian troops were
tightening their grip within Crimea:
- Russian troops have been blocking Ukrainian military
bases and demanding to take control.
- While the Russian troops were "negotiating" with the Ukrainians at
one military base, pro-Russian militias showed up and beat up
journalists who were trying to report on the event.
- Russia's Navy warships sank two boats in Sevastopol harbor in
order to blockade Ukrainian ships and prevent them from
On the political front, there's been a lot of euphoria in Moscow after
the Crimean parliament voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia and to hold a referendum on March 16. Russia is making plans to annex
Crimea and Sevastopol as new members of the Russian Federation. It
was announced that on March 21, the Duma will vote for a
constitutional amendment to allow for the annexation of Crimea, making
it the first addition to Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
It's only been a few days since Russia's president Vladimir Putin
promised not to "consider" annexing Crimea. That promise was
broken within two days by fast-moving events.
Three days ago, Russian troops that had been performing military
drills along the border between Russia and Ukraine for several days
were recalled to their barracks. As I wrote at the time, this was considered such good news that Wall
Street was sent into a bubble-happy frenzy, pushing stocks up
But in fact, something similar happened in 2008. There were massive
military maneuvers on the border with Georgia, leading to fears that
Russia was about to invade Georgia. Everyone breathed a sign of
relief when the military exercises ended on July 31. But the invasion
of Georgia began only eight days later on August 8. If Russia
follows the same pattern, then a full-scale invasion of Ukraine may be
only a few days away. CNN and
KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, Hugo Chávez,
Panama, Ricardo Martinelli,
Organization of American States, OAS,
Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia
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