The board of directors of the Panama Canal chose former Minister Ricaurte Vázquez on Friday as the new water route administrator for the next seven years, replacing Jorge Luis Quijano, who was at the front of the millionaire expansion project.
"The board of directors has unanimously decided to appoint Dr. ‘Catín’ Vázquez as the next administrator", said Roberto Roy, president of the Board of Directors and Minister of Affairs for the Canal, who assured that the transition process will be "imperceptible."
In his first words after his appointment, Vázquez said that among his priorities will be the competitiveness of the interoceanic road and the water issue, vital for its operation.
Vázquez, who held several management positions in the canal in the 1990s and was Minister of Economy and Finance in the government of Martín Torrijos (2004-2009), will take office from next September 4, when the term of current administrator expires.
The next manager of the route has a curriculum "very extensive" and "the proven leadership to guide the Panama Canal in its mission to be a world leader in connectivity", said the chairman of the board of directors, which is composed of 11 members and is responsible for designating or removing the administrator.
Roy also announced on Friday the appointment of canal engineer Ilya Espino de Marotta as the new assistant manager, who currently holds one of the vice presidencies of the canal and is the first woman to hold such a high position in the company.
The appointment of Vázquez and Espino de Marotta are of utmost importance because the canal is one of the most solid companies in the country and through it passes 6% of world trade.
The period of Quijano, who refused to stand for a second seven-year term, expires on September 3, but the engineer asked that his successor be appointed in time for an orderly transition.
"The engineer Quijano knew how to give continuity to the management of his predecessors, successfully completing the challenge of expanding the canal and concluding his career of almost 40 years (in the canal) with record tonnage, revenues and contributions for the country", Roy indicated.
The selection process for the new administrator, which began months ago, was "professional and independent" and involved a US company specializing in recruitment that interviewed a score of candidates, including Panamanians and foreigners, Roy recalled.
The canal, built by the United States at the beginning of the last century and definitively transferred to Panama on December 31, 1999, received more than 3.1 billion dollars last year and gave the Panamanian treasury historic contributions of 1.703 billion 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.