VPotus pool report 10 - remarks with President of Panama (not including Barcelona comments)

From: David Rennie
Date: August 17, 2017 at 6:57:01 PM EDT
Subject: VPotus pool report 10 - remarks with President of Panama (not including Barcelona comments)

Please note, VP's comments on Barcelona have v kindly been sent as separate report numbered 9 by co-pooler Louise Radnofsky

VP spoke in the portico of the Palace of the Herons, presidential palace of Panama.

President Juan Carlos Varela spoke first:

"I would like to begin by energetically condemning the terrorist act that occurred today in Barcelona, we share the pain of the Spanish people."

He expressed delight that VP visited the canal which is a symbol of US-Panamanian ties.

"You, sir, are a man of faith and men of faith in public life always strive for the common good."

Varela added that Panama has become a "great connection for world trade, with the widened Panama Canal, the expansion of the Tocumen Airport." He invited American investment and American companies to benefit from Panama's logistics and financial sector. He said it was a priority for him to ensure that logistics and financial platform is not used for unlawful activities, in what appeared to be a nod to the leak of papers relating to apparent tax evasion using firms in Panama.

Varela said that Panama seizes large quantities of illegal drugs produced in other neighbouring countries and plays an important role in detecting and disrupting illegal migration flows. He noted his country's role during a migration crisis in 2016 from Haiti and Cuba.

He offered support for US calls to pressure Venezuelans to respect the separation of powers, human rights, freedoms and the constitutional order.

"Panama is a country that builds bridges," Varela said, saying his country would help find a peaceful solution to the Venezuelan crisis.

Varela asked VP Pence to send a message to Pres Trump that Panama values its ties with the USA, reflecting Panama's desire to help the whole world, as captured by the motto on the Republic's coat of arms, Pro Mundi Beneficio (For the benefit of the World).

VP made remarks on Barcelona, reported in a separate pool report numbered 9.

After expressing condemnation of the attacks he thanked Panama for its role as an ally in the fight against the ISIS terror network.

Pence said: "Mr President, we are with you. The United States stands with Panama."

He thanked the people of Panama for their stewardship of the panama Canal over the past two decades.

"The completion of the canal expansion has generated billions of ddllars in investment in the United States," Pence said. The expansion of the canal to take in larger, Neo-Panamax, size ships had led to growth in such ports as Savannah, Charleston and Miami, he said

VP praised Panama's leadership on border security, and noted US assistance with biometric border technology.

"The drug trade is the cause of so much violence crime and corruption" Pence said, noting with approval that last year Panama seized 56 metric tons of cocaine, more than the rest of Central America combined.

VP repeated a message about Venezuela that he has delivered at each stop on this four-country tour. He said: the once free people of Venezuela are sliding into dictatorship and as Pres Trump has said, "the United States will not stand idly by as Venezuela crumbles."

Once again, he called on Latin America to do more to pressure Venezuela. Nodding to Pres Trump's recent comments about a military option for Venezuela, VP used the same formula he used in Colombia, Argentina and Chile, saying that America has many options but remains confident that a peaceful solution can be found.


David Rennie
Washington bureau chief and
"Lexington" columnist
The Economist
Washington DC
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