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Majority of Venezuelans in Panama Vote for Opposition Candidate Capriles

Panama, with its large number of Venezuelans, closely followed the Venezuelan election which took place on Sunday, April 14, 2013. Social networks resounded with the reactions of Panama-based Venezuelans as well as Panamanians who wanted to follow what was happening in Venezuela, their near neighbour.

Panamanian daily Día a Día (@DiaaDiaPa) [es] tweeted that some 900 Venezuelans had turned up to vote:

@DiaaDiaPa: A esta hora se calcula que alrededor de 900 venezolanos han votado en la Embajada de Venezuela #panama

@DiaaDiaPa: At this time we calculate that around 900 Venezuelans have voted at the Venezuelan Embassy #panama

Many Panamanian users followed closely, waiting for results, and some even dared to remember the time Panama spent under dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega. In May 1989, after losing the election, Noriega gave orders to the electoral tribunal to declare the polls null and void. This triggered a series of abuses and arbitrary violence which led to the United States invading Panama. Twitter user Panamá Vieja Escuela (Old School Panama) (@PanamaHistoria) [es] said:

Venezuelans voting in Panama. Photo @Yacare45 Twitter.

Venezuelans voting in Panama. Photo via @Yacare45 on Twitter.

@PanamaHistoria: Me preocupa que mucha gente habla de la situación de Venezuela como si #Panama fuera inmune. Que no se les olvide a Noriega y su pandilla.

@PanamaHistoria: I am concerned that many people talk about the situation in Venezuela as if #Panama was immune. Let us not forget Noriega and his gang.

When they learned the results of the polls, a group of supporters of the winner, Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’ vice president, launched fireworks from the Embassy of Venezuela in Panama. Venezuelan resident in Panama, Marian Queen (@inagc) [es] said on her Twitter account:

@inagc: Empleados de la Embajada de Venezuela en Panamá celebrando con fuegos artificiales. Mucho miedo a que los desenchufaran, no?

@inagc: Employees of the Embassy of Venezuela in Panama are celebrating with fireworks. Afraid they would lose their jobs at the embassy?

Supporters of Capriles reacted unpleasantly and tried to enter the Embassy of Venezuela in Panama, accusing the elections of being fraudulent. The police had to intervene to protect the Embassy according to reports from website La Verdad (The Truth) [es]:

La acción policial se produjo después de que simpatizantes del candidato presidencial Henrique Capriles intentaran ingresar la noche del domingo, por la fuerza y en medio de gritos de presunto “fraude”, a la sede diplomática localizada en el quinto piso de una torre en el área bancaria de la capital panameña.

The police action came after supporters of presidential candidate Henrique Capriles tried to enter the diplomatic headquarters, located on the fifth floor of a tower in the Bank area of the Panamanian capital, on Sunday night, by force amid shouting about the presumed “fraud”.

In the end 1,036 Venezuelan citizens exercised their vote from Panama, where the majority voted for the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. Website El Venezolano [es] reported:

Finalmente, Miguel Martínez de la Riva, jefe Del Comando Simón Bolívar en Panamá, aseguró que mil 36 venezolanos votaron en Panamá, de los cuales 991 prefirieron la propuesta del candidato opositor, Henrique Capriles.

Finally, Miguel Martínez de la Riva, head of the Simon Bolivar command in Panama, said that 1,036 Venezuelans voted in Panama, of whom 991 preferred opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

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