6 March 2014, 19:13

Venezuela cuts ties with Panama over OAS row

By Molly Seder

WASHINGTON (RV) – As the world turns its eyes to Ukraine, a diplomatic row is facturing Latin America.

Venezuela cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Panama after the Central American nation called for a meeting of the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss ongoing antigovernment protests in and around Caracas, Venezuela.

In response, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro slammed the suggestion as an excuse for Washington to become involved in Venezuela’s internal affairs. The U.S. is a member of OAS.

The U.S. is viewed as antagonist to the Venezuelan president, who was elected in April, 2013 after the March 5 death of former President Hugo Chávez.

President Maduro has also called for a meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in order to explain, "The attacks, the violence, the small groups that have tried to undermine social life and impose a political situation that our country is overcoming."

Steve Ellner is a professor in Venezuela at the Universidad de Oriente and the editor of "Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty-first Century."

Ellner told VR, "Venezuela is and Venezuela has been for some time a very polarized country." Still, he said it’s unlikely the protesters will succeed in removing President Maduro from power.

Venezuela remains bogged down in weeks of protests that started February 4th. 20 people have died in the clashes, including on Thursday a police officer and a protestor.

VR’s Molly Seder spoke with Professor Steve Ellner. You can listen to their conversation here:

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