Panama bans Venezuelan airlines for 90 days in tit-for-tat move

People gather at the gates of Copa Airlines headquarters in Caracas on April 6 [Marco Bello/Reuters]
Panama will prohibit Venezuelan airlines from operating in the country for 90 days, the government has said, in retaliation for diplomatic and trade bans announced recently by Venezuela.

The office of President Juan Carlos Varela said on Tuesday that the ban on cargo and passenger flights will begin on April 25.

The move affects 10 Venezuelan companies.

It comes after Venezuela banned key Panamanian companies from operating on its territory after Panama's government put Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on a list of Venezuelan officials deemed at "high risk" for laundering money.
Venezuela's ban included businesses related to Varela himself, as well as one of the few airlines still operating within Venezuela, Copa.

Panama pulled its ambassador from Venezuela and asked Venezuela to recall its emissary.

Panama is keeping its embassy in Caracas open with a skeleton staff.

Many international airlines have pulled out of Venezuela, citing economic and security concerns.

The few left flying include Air France, American Airlines, Cubana, Iberia of Spain, Swift Air from the US and Turkish Airlines.

A meeting of Latin American leaders in Peru later this week is expected to sharpen the tone and actions against Maduro, who has not been invited.
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