Panama Canal will not block Venezuela vessels

The Panama Canal will continue to permit vessels coming from Venezuela to transit, provided they have the correct paperwork, the head of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) Jorge Quijano said on Wednesday August 14th.

Last week the US President issued a new executive order that froze all Venezuelan government assets in the US and tightened the line against foreign companies doing business with the country.

The EO did not explicitly place sanctions on non-US firms linked to Venezuela, unlike the US sanctions on Iran. However, it threatened to freeze the US assets of any person or company determined to have “materially assisted” the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Quijano said that the AMP should not submit to pressure from third-party countries on whether or not vessels could use the canal. He noted that  Panama and the US were both signatories to a treaty of neutrality when it came to vessels transiting the Panama Canal. “We have to continue with that commitment as long as they follow the rules of the game, and the rules of the game are that it’s an innocent passage”, Quijano said.

Earlier this year Panama withdrew its flag from dozens of vessels linked to Iran and Syria, including the recently detained tanker Grace 1. The AMP said that it would continue to deflag vessels that violated sanctions and international legislation.