March 6 - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro breaks diplomatic ties with Panama, as the country remembers the death of former socialist leader Hugo Chavez. Sarah Toms reports.
Close family gather around the tomb of Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, on the one year anniversary of his death. They offer tears and white roses to the man who led the country for 14 years. It's an emotional but welcome distraction for Chavez's successor President Nicolas Maduro, who's been facing violent protests for the last month. Latin American heads of state joined Chavez supporters, coming to the capital to pay their respects. Here -- in the midst of anniversary events -- Maduro made the surprise announcement....he had broken diplomatic relations and frozen economic ties with Panama It was payback, after Panama requested an urgent meeting of the Organisation of American States to discuss the Venezuelan crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA, NICOLAS MADURO, SAYING: "We're not going to let anyone get away with interfering with our fatherland, you despicable lackey, president of Panama. He does not represent his people, Panama is a large country." In other parts of the capital, the unrest continued. Anti-government protesters kept up their barricades, despite an appeal made by opposition leaders to "respect" the date. Groups of activists again clashed with police. This kind of violence is not unusual... at least 18 people have been killed. High inflation, rampant crime and food shortages have brought these people onto the streets. Many of them blame these problems on the country's socialist policies of the past 15 years.