CARACAS, Venezuela, March 6 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Wednesday that his country is severing its ties with Panama "in defense of the homeland's sovereignty."
Maduro explained his decision to cut Venezuela's diplomatic, political, and economic ties with Panama in a televised statement in which he accused Panama of acting as a "lackey" of the United States:
"There are maneuvers by the U.S. government plotting with a lackey government that has a right-wing president who is leaving in the next few months, who is not worthy of his people, who has been working actively against Venezuela."
Maduro accused Panama of trying to use regional organizations to intervene in Venezuela's internal affairs.
Panama's government denied Maduro's allegations and insisted that its outreach to the Organization of American States was intended to foster dialogue and encourage the protection of democracy and human rights in Venezuela. In a statement, the Panamanian government said:
"We reject as unacceptable the insults uttered by President Nicolas Maduro against our country and its highest authority. The foul language used is inappropriate for the president of a brother country."