Panama-Venezuela relations remain at an all-time low because of the money that Venezuelans owe Panamanians. Venezuela’s capital controls are the reason the debts have not been paid. Panama responded in three ways. First, various forms of moral suasion, which are continuing but useless against the Maduro administration. Second, a case at the WTO, which is continuing but very slow. And third, a threat to publicize the moneys that corrupt Venezuelan officials have hidden in Panama ... which has sunk like a stone and disappeared.
Via Randy McDonald comes the likely reason: wealthy Venezuelans are continuing to move to Panama. Some of them are assuredly hiding money from the Venezuelan government, ill-gotten or not. Moreover, banking secrecy is the kind of thing that it is hard to half-violate without spooking clients from elsewhere. And, finally, the fact is that if the Maduro administration were going to respond to the Panamanian threat it would have already responded. Since Panama has no other real arrows in its quiver, it loses no credibility from not following through on its threat.
Plus, there is a new administration in Panama, from one of the two opposition parties. It is not bound by statements from the previous presidency. Venezuela is a scary place and an economic wreck, but it is a wreck in a very Venezuelan way. Panamanians rightfully discounted attempts to frighten them into thinking that the (conservative) opposition would create such a mess at home ... although President-elect Varela does intend to impose price controls on food.
We will continue to bring you more news in the Panama-Venezuela spat as it continues.