Shortly after landing, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro traveled Friday to the El Chorrillo neighborhood that was hard-hit during the U.S. invasion in 1989 that ousted Gen. Manuel Noriega.
“The United States needs to apologize to Panama and Latin America,” for the action, Maduro said, as he met with people who lost relatives during the attack. He also called on the United States to indemnify the victims.
The number of casualties from the invasion remains a mystery. The government and human rights groups have released figures that range from 300 to more than 1,000.
On Saturday morning, Maduro said he would be meeting with the ALBA nations, which include Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba, and propose sending aid and medical brigades to Chorrillo.
Maduro also said he would be meeting with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela to propose that the host country join the PetroCaribe trading bloc, where Venezuela offers subsidized fuel at favorable terms — often in exchange for payment in goods.
On Saturday night, after the presidential event, Maduro, Morales and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa are expected to close out the “People’s Summit,” a parallel meeting taking place in Panama City.
Cuba boycotts civil society meeting
Cuban organizations said they were once again boycotting a civil society forum where President Barack Obama was due to speak Friday because of the presence of dissidents.
On Friday, the organizations continued to circulate pictures of Cuban invitees posing with Luís Posada Carriles, a former CIA agent who bombed tourist sites in Cuba in 1997, and Félix Rodriguez, also a U.S. agent who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion and was present at the interrogation and death of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
“Those mercenaries have received an invitation to participate in the plenary this afternoon,” the group said in a statement. “Out of respect for the host country and the rest of leaders, including President Obama, the delegation that represents the authentic Cuban civil society has decided not to participate.”
In recent days, there have been skirmishes between opposing Cuban factions. Rosa María Gutierrez, the national president of the Cuban Association of Social Communicators, and a government supporter, said her group didn’t want to be baited into another confrontation.
“We cannot allow that provocation,” she said, as she withdrew from the site. “What we’re doing is an act of civility.”
Jamaica wants Garvey’s name cleared
Jamaica’s leader asked President Barack Obama on Thursday to exonerate black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, who was convicted in the U.S. of mail fraud in the 1920s and remains a prominent historic figure on the island, the Associated Press reported.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said she told Obama it is the “deep desire of the government and people of Jamaica” to have Garvey exonerated of the conviction that got him deported back to his Jamaican homeland in 1927.
“I asked the president to consider the matter and to offer any support within his authority during his tenure in the White House, and beyond,” Simpson Miller said after Obama departed the island to attend the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
Garvey was the first person named a Jamaican national hero following the island’s independence in 1962, and the government put his likeness on coins. He died in 1940.
U.S. officials did not immediately provide comment about Simpson Miller’s request regarding Garvey, who once inspired millions of followers with messages of black pride and self-reliance. Obama made no mention of Garvey during his public comments in Jamaica, which focused on a wide range of regional issues including energy security, trade and climate change.