Detractors of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Panama banged pots and pans in protest while he spoke at the Summit of the Americas on Saturday:
As seen in the video above, the cacophony of noise from the “cacerolazo” was done at apartment complexes near the Atlapa convention center in Panama City during the plenary session of the conference. The banging was accompanied by several yells of “Fuera Maduro”, derisive whistling and at least one Venezuelan flag with the acronym “S.O.S.” written on it.
The “cacerolazo” was heard not only outside of the Atlapa center but also allegedly within several of the locale’s rooms. (It does not seem that the protest was heard in the conference room where leaders from across the Western Hemisphere discussed regional matters).
Today’s protest followed a similar “cacerolazo” that occurred on Friday evening as Maduro and his wife entered the convention center. The couple was reportedly “unmoved” by the demonstration.
“Venezuela is stuck in a political, economic and social crisis, and we must prevent that which is preventable,” declared Lilian Tintori, wife of imprisoned Venezuelan opposition activist Leopoldo López, prior to visiting Panama during the Summit. Meanwhile, nineteen former Ibero-Americn leaders signed a declaration last week denouncing the “changes to constitutionality and democracy” in Venezuela.
During his intervention at the Summit, Maduro claimed that he was an “anti-imperialist” and blasted a March 9th executive order from U.S. President Barack Obama. The order placed sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses and named the South American country as a "national security threat".
“I respect (Obama) but I no longer have any confidence in him,” said Maduro who also railed against the “irrational, disproportionate” executive order.
“None of you other leaders would ever permit such a decree…the problems in Venezuela will be solved by the Venezuelan people,” he added.
Maduro issued a series of demands against the U.S. including revoking the March 9th executive order and "taking legal steps to prevent the conspiracy" against him from the U.S.
Aside from Maduro, several other Latin American leaders also spoke out against the executive order against Venezuela. Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, for instance, compared Obama’s order on Venezuela to the sovereignty dispute between her country and the U.K. over the Falkland Islands. (Prior to the summit, Colombia’s moderate conservative President Juan Manuel Santos even expressed his reservations over “unilateral sanctions (that) are counterproductive in the long run.”)
Despite the heavy opposition, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta S. Jacobson said that the executive order would not be overturned and is a decree that “is already being implemented.” She previously expressed her “disappointment” over the lack of regional support in favor of the executive order.
Despite their differences, both Obama and Maduro purportedly met “on the sidelines of the Summit of Americas and lasted only a few minutes.” Few details were given over the supposed discussion though Venezuelan presidential aide Teresa Maniglia tweeted, “There was a lot of truth, respect and cordiality.”
YouTube Source – La Estrella de Panamá
Online Sources (English) – Latin American Herald Tribune, teleSUR English, ABC News
Online Sources (Spanish) – El Carabobeño, La Patilla, infobae.com, Diario Los Andes, ABC.es