The Outlook for Panama’s New President

Jakob Polacsek / WEF / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Tuesday, June 24th, the Dialogue and Tulane University’s Center for Inter-American Policy and Research hosted a discussion on Panama’s political trajectory and the prospects for its new president.

Panama’s new president, Juan Carlos Varela, assumes office on July 1st. Elected vice president four years ago, Varela split with then President Ricardo Martinelli, and defeated Martinelli’s handpicked candidate in this year’s presidential race. He now confronts a complicated political landscape that has been dominated by his predecessor, whose party continues to maintain a majority in Congress. Although Varela is expected to sustain the country’s current economic policy directions, which have produced the fastest growth in Latin America, but he campaigned on a platform promising to battle government corruption and focus new attention on issues of poverty and inequality. The expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to be completed during this coming period.

Our featured guests were two exceptionally distinguished Panamanian analysts. Dr. Ebrahim Asvat is the host of a popular television show and former editor of La Estrella and El Siglo. Dr. Marco Gandásegui is a professor at the Universidad de Panama. Following their opening remarks, we held a lively, wide-ranging exchange with the audience.