Speaking during a televised address late this afternoon, Maduro announced that his government’s dispute with Panama was over, and that economic relations will be re-established with the Central American country in the coming days.
Maduro said that the agreement was forged during a secret meeting in the Dominican Republic with Panamanian officials some time in the last few days. He explained that during the meeting, Venezuelan and Panama agreed to three points: the exchange of ambassadors, the re-establishment of commercial flights between the two countries, and the creation of a committee to iron out any issues that might arise between the two countries.
On March 30, Panama became the first Latin American nation to take direct economic action against the Maduro regime by issuing a warning to its financial institutions naming 55 regime official and 16 companies. The warning called on Panamanian banks to exercise caution when dealing with the listed entities, given the fact that they posed “a high risk for laundering capital” and engaging in other illicit activities.
The list include Maduro as well as most high-ranking PSUV officials.
Maduro retaliated on following week by expelling 46 Panamanian companies and 22 nationals from the country, after issuing a blanket statement accusing the entities of being involved in illegal activities. The measure affected Copa Airlines, one of the last remaining commercial carriers that still services Venezuela.
Ceremony Marks One Year Anniversary of Juan Pablo Pernalete’s Killing
Students at the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas held a memorial service for Juan Pablo Pernalete, a student at the institution who was killed one year ago today at an anti-government protest in the Altamira neighbourhood of Caracas.
Pernalete was 20 years old when he was killed after a National Guard solider fired a tear gas canister at his chest from close range. The impact of the canister caused catastrophic damage to Pernalete’s heart, killing him in just minutes.
The day following his death, Pernalete’s aunt spoke to reporters about why her nephew had been out protesting against the Maduro government the day that he was killed. She said:
He’d been going out for a few days. All he wanted was a free country. He said that he wanted to fight because if he didn’t he could get killed on the street for his cell phone or for any reason, so he wanted to fight for a free country. For a cause that I now feel is meaningless.
The Maduro regime initially denied allegations that Pernalete had been killed by a National Guard soldier. On April 27, ruling-party vice president Diosado Cabello told reporters that there were no National Guard soldiers in Altamira when Pernalete was killed, and suggested that he had in fact been killed by opposition protesters.
Cabello was proven wrong the next day, as a previously-unreleased video showing the instant after Pernalete was struck by the tear gas canister was released on Instagram. The video clearly shows large numbers of National Guard soldiers in the area, as well as the presence of tear gas.
In the video, Pernalete can be seen being carried away from the National Guard soldiers after being shot in the chest with the canister. Towards the end of the video, Pernalete collapses:
Below, a video of the ceremony for Pernalete held at the Universidad Metropolitana earlier today:
David Smolansky, the former mayor of El Hatillo state who is now living in exile, shared the following messages on the anniversary of Pernalete’s death:
One year ago the regime murdered Juan Pablo Pernalete. He was a beloved student who was respected by his entire university. A young man who dreamed about representing Venezuela in the [NBA]. He is one of many fallen civilians whose memory we must honour for all eternity.
My thoughts are with his parents. I can still hear the words they spoke at Juan Pablo’s funeral: “Love and hug your children. Tell them that you love them, because you do not know when they will be taken from you”. There will be justice. You [Pernalete’s parents] are an inspiration for the country.
Pernalete was the 29th protester killed in the 2017 anti-government protest wave, which had begun approximately one month prior.
Regime Calls for March in Caracas on May 1
The Maduro regime called on its supporters today to march in Caracas on May first to commemorate International Worker’s Day. The call came visa Constituent Assembly deputy Francisco Torrealba during a press conference earlier today.
The Venezuelan working class is absolutely committed with increasing production to the highest levels, [and] we are hopeful and believe firmly in the Plan de la Patria 2025 [the regime’s policy guide for the next seven years] that the government of President Nicolas Maduro has proposed to the Venezuelan people, [which] will take us to victory against the economic war.
In the regime mythos, the “economic war” is the name given to a nebulous conspiracy involving foreign governments, individuals and agencies as well as local political opposition to destroy the Venezuelan economy. The regime uses the term frequently to absolve itself of any responsibility over the country’s dire economic condition.
Maduro Loses Patience with Microphone
While campaigning in Guacara, Carabobo state, television cameras captured Maduro losing his temper on a malfunctioning microphone.
As he attempted to speak to the crowd of supporters, Maduro noticed that the microphone was malfunctioning, and tossed it impatiently to his side, where it was caught by a man with quick reflexes.
Below, the video:
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