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Panama's President-elect Criticizes Lima Group as Fruitless

  • President-elect Laurentino Cortizo at the Electoral Council in Panama City, Panama May 10, 2019.

    President-elect Laurentino Cortizo at the Electoral Council in Panama City, Panama May 10, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 May 2019

A Contadora Group-like initiative might be to adopt dialogue in order to allow Venezuelan parties to feel everyone wins through peace.

Panama's President-elect Laurentino Cortizo criticized Monday the Lima Group for its inability to build bridges among the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and domestic opposition. The incoming leader said he supports a diplomatic mechanism of dialogue similar to the Contadora Group in the early 80s.

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"I appreciate the efforts of the Lima Group countries, but I wonder how much progress has been made? Has it moved towards an agreement that does not exclude anyone? That is the question," the former congressman, a member of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), said during an interview to local media TVN.

When asked if his country would remain in the Lima Group during his presidency, Cortizo replied, "for the moment, obviously," and commented that the prior government's decisions on this issue will be respected.

Panama's outgoing president Juan Carlos Varela and Cortizo addressed the Venezuelan issue during a meeting which took place Monday as part of the government's transition preparations. However neither mentioned the topic at the end of their meeting.​​​​​​​

Cortizo, who takes office July 1, promised to help reach a solution to the Venezuelan domestic situation and asserted that those who think that Venezuela's only problem is its government are wrong because "there are other factors," at play, said the Panamanian leader.

It is important "to create a bridge and to be able to put on the table all the [contending] sectors, including the opposition," said Corizo who suggested his country can contribute to a new inclusive dialogue process in which "everyone feels that Venezuela and the region win."

In a separate interview, the new head of state said the Contadora Group in 1983, a regional diplomatic forum comprising Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and Panama helped achieve peace in armed civil conflicts in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

At that time, the Contadora Group countries acted as "fixers" to solve crises "instead of cornering Central American countries," Cortizo recalled and asserted that "we can do the same with Venezuela."​​​​​​​

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