Today is a historic day for Panama. A new President is being sworn in today, making it the fifth President elected after the military regime which lasted more than 21 years.
The new President is Ricardo Martinelli, a wealthy businessman, owner of one of the principal supermarket chains in Panama—Super 99. He oriented his campaign under the slogan “Entran limpios y salen millonarios.” (They come in poor and go out millionaires). He promised to stop corruption, build a modern mass transportation system, improve the law enforcement agencies and transform the education system. The Panamanian public voted for those issues including myself.
Martinelli was born in Panama on March 11, 1952. In 1973, he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Fayetteville in Arkansas, the United States. He later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the INCAE Business School in Costa Rica.
He served as director of the Social Security from 1994 to 1996 in the government of then President Ernesto Perez Balladares. From September 1999 to January 2003, during the presidency of Mireya Moscoso, he served as minister for canal affairs and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority.
Martinelli is currently chairman of the board of Panama’s Super 99 supermarkets chain and chairman of two other companies. He also sits on the boards of at least eight other companies.
He is married to Marta Linares, an insurance agent, and has three children.
On every Panamanian mind, today is the start of a new era based on “Change”. I’m very positive that better days are ahead for Panama. We have all the resources to become a First World Nation. Let it be. Good Day!