Dr. Ricaurte Vásquez Morales Takes the Helm of the Panama Canal

Mike Schuler
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September 6, 2019

Ricaurte Vásquez Morales is sworn in as the Panama Canal Administrator. Photo courtesy Panama Canal Authority

Panama has be sworn-in Ricaurte Vásquez Morales, Ph.D. as the new administrator of the Panama Canal, superseding Jorge L. Quijano after seven years as the head of the Canal.

Dr. Vásquez is a Ph.D. and economist with more than 30 years’ experience in the public and private sector. He takes the helm for his seven-year term shortly before the Canal celebrates its 20th year under Panamanian administration on December 31, 2019. His appointment also comes during a period of unprecedented growth and record-breaking tonnage for the waterway following the opening of the Expanded Canal in June 2016.

“Just a few months short of the 20th anniversary of the transfer of the Canal to the Panamanian people, we face a distinctly different reality today. Trade now travels along different routes,” said Administrator Vásquez. “This new global reality, in which the Canal operates, requires us to redefine and adapt our business. We must face this challenge with intelligence, courage and imagination.”

The new administrator was sworn-in before the Minister for Canal Affairs and Panama Canal Board of Directors Chairman, Aristides Royo, during a ceremony at the Panama Canal Administration Building, reaffirming the Canal’s commitment to efficiently serving the maritime industry.

Dr. Vásquez was appointed to the position by the Panama Canal Board of Directors back in February following an “independent, transparent and rigorous process” mandated by the Panamanian Constitution and the Organic Law of the Panama Canal. He succeeds Mr. Jorge L. Quijano, who completed his term as administrator on September 4 after seven years leading the Canal and more than 40 years at the waterway.

Dr. Vásquez will begin his term a month before the end of the 2019 fiscal year, on September 30, 2019.

Dr. Vásquez is the fourth Panamanian administrator of the Canal, following Mr. Quijano (2012-2019), Alberto Aleman Zubieta (1996-2012) and Gilberto Guardia (1990-96), who was the administrator of the Panama Canal Commission, the U.S. federal agency that operated the Canal until 1999.

About Dr. Ricaurte Vásquez Morales, courtesy the Panama Canal Authority (ACP):

Dr. Vásquez has more than 30 years in financial and international capital market management, financial consulting and in the public sector. He served as Minister for Canal Affairs and Chairman of Panama Canal Board of Directors (2004-2006), deputy administrator (2000-2004) and finance director (1996-2000) for the waterway. He was responsible for the financial transition of the Panama Canal to Panamanian administration, in full compliance with the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties, including the closure of operations of the Panama Canal Commission, the United States federal agency responsible for the administration and operation of the Canal until noon on December 31, 1999.

He also served in public administration as Minister of Planning and Economic Policy, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Chief Debt Negotiator for the Refinancing Program of the Republic of Panama.

In the private sector, he held several positions at General Electric between 2008 and 2015, including executive director, vice president, and CEO for Central America and the Caribbean.

Dr. Vásquez has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Villanova University, in Villanova, Pennsylvania, a Master of Science in Operations Research and Statistics and a Ph.D. in Managerial Economics from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the United States, and a Master’s in Economics from North Carolina State University in the United States. He was an Associate Professor of Economics at Florida State University – Panama Campus.

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is an autonomous legal entity of the Republic of Panama in charge of the operation, administration, management, preservation, maintenance, and modernization of the Panama Canal, as well as its activities and related services

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