Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Wednesday that he was breaking diplomatic relations with Panama and freezing bilateral economic links.

"I have decided to break political and diplomatic relations with the current government of Panama," said Maduro at an event to pay tribute to late predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Maduro's words came after the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States announced that on Thursday it will study a request by Panama to call a meeting of foreign ministers regarding the situation in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan leader chided the Panamanian government for being a "lackey" and had harsh words for President Ricardo Martinelli, whom he accused of not being "worthy of his people" and of having been "actively working against Venezuela, creating conditions so that the OAS and other organizations take a step toward intervention" in the South American country.

"Nobody is going to conspire with impunity against our country to ask for an intervention against our homeland. That's enough, enough. I call on the people to unite in defense of sovereignty, of independence," Maduro shouted.

"Venezuela will be respected and I'm not going to accept anyone conspiring against Venezuela to ask for an international intervention against our peace and our sovereignty," he said.

The Venezuelan president made the announcement before the coffin of Chavez on the day commemorating the first anniversary of the death of the creator of the so-called Socialism of the 21st Century in Caracas.

Venezuela has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests since Feb. 12 that have led to acts of violence in which 19 people have died, more than 250 have been injured and hundreds have been arrested. EFE