The appointment by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela of two ministers and an ambassador to the board of directors of the Panama Canal on Wednesday generated a string of criticism in the opposition and in certain sectors of society.
The president nominated the vice president and chancellor, Isabel De Saint Malo, on Tuesday night; to the Minister of the Presidency, Jorge González; and the ambassador in the United States, Emanuel González Revilla, who must now receive the approval of the Parliament, which has an opposition majority.
The main opposition forces expressed their uneasiness over the designations and warned of the possible risks of "politicizing" the management of the Panama Canal, built by the United States at the beginning of the last century and transferred to Panama on December 31, 1999.
The interoceanic highway, through which 6% of world trade passes, is managed autonomously by an administrator and a board of eleven members, who are mostly appointed by the Executive and who must serve nine-year terms.
"The message of appointing two members of the current cabinet is not good: politicization is an issue that needs to be distanced from the canal", said Laurentino Cortizo, the presidential candidate to the next May elections of the opposition Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD).
"You have to avoid repeating political appointments, you have to review the curricula to see if those people have experience, knowledge and talent", said independent candidate and former general prosecutor, Ana Matilde Gómez.
The president of the party Cambio Democrático (CD), Rómulo Roux, said that the three designated "have their differences" and that their parliamentary caucus will study each profile "individually".
The three officials were nominated to replace two canal directors whose terms culminate in the first quarter of the year (Nicolás Corcione and Henri Mizrachi) and another executive who resigned a few months ago to attend the general elections, Marco Ameglio.
Among the functions that the board of directors of the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) has is to appoint or remove the administrator and set the policies for the operation and modernization of the waterway, according to Panamanian laws.
The channel is one of the most solid and important companies in Panama. Last year had an income of more than 3,100 million dollars, mostly for the payment of tolls, and delivered to the Panamanian treasury the record figure of 1,703 million dollars.
The two largest customers of the water route, which connects more than 1,700 ports in 160 countries, are the United States and China, and container transport is its main business.