Panama Canal names new chief administrator


The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) on Friday selected a new chief administrator for the inter-oceanic waterway for the 2019-2026 period.

Former Finance Minister Ricaurte “Catin” Vasquez was named to replace Jorge Luis Quijano, who presided over a multi-billion-dollar project to expand the canal.

“The board of directors unanimously decided to name Dr. ‘Catin’ Vasquez as the next administrator,” said the board’s chairman and minister for canal affairs, Roberto Roy, who predicted a smooth transition process.

In his first remarks since his selection, Vasquez said his top priorities would include ensuring the canal’s competitiveness and protecting its water supply, which is vital for its operation.

The newly appointed administrator has an extensive track record and “the proven leadership to guide the Panama Canal in its mission to be a global connectivity leader,” the chairman of the 11-member board of directors said.

Vasquez, who occupied several leadership positions in the ACP in the 1990s and was economy and finance minister in President Martin Torrijos’ 2004-2009 administration, will become chief administrator when Quijano’s tenure expires on Sept. 4.

Vazquez has more than 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors, particularly in the areas of financial management, international capital markets and financial consulting.

He was minister for canal affairs and chairman of the PCA’s board of directors from 2004 to 2006, deputy canal administrator from 2000 to 2004 and the waterway’s chief financial officer from 1996 to 2000, the ACP said.

Roy also announced Friday that Ilya Espino de Marotta, an engineer who led the canal expansion project, has been named deputy administrator. She will become the first woman to hold that senior position.

Roughly 6 percent of world trade crosses through the canal via more than 140 sea routes linking 1,700 ports in 160 different countries.

Quijano, who chose not to stand for a second seven-year term, oversaw the canal expansion program that was carried out between 2007 and 2016 at an initial cost of $5.25 billion.

The centerpiece of the project was a new third set of locks that allow the canal, which was constructed by the United States at the beginning of the 20th century and handed over to Panama on Dec. 31, 1999, to accommodate modern neo-Panamax ships.