New Administrator, Deputy Named For Panama Canal

The Panama Canal Board of Directors announced February 15 the appointment of Ricaurte Vasquez as the next Panama Canal administrator. Vasquez will take office on September 4, succeeding Jorge L. Quijano, who concludes his seven-year term at the helm of the waterway.

The decision was made by the board of directors in accordance with an independent process mandated by the Panamanian Constitution and Organic Law of the Panama Canal Authority.

“As part of the Panama Canal Authority’s autonomous institutional process, the board of directors developed its evaluation criteria based upon an analysis of the Panama Canal’s vision, mission, values, strategic objectives and challenges for the coming years,” said Roberto Roy, chairman of board of directors and minister for canal affairs. “After months of undergoing this strategic planning process, the board of directors determined that Mr. Vasquez has the expertise needed to lead the waterway through its next era of growth.”

Vasquez has more than 30 years of experience in financial and international capital market management and in the public sector. He served as minister for canal affairs and chairman of the Panama Canal Board of Directors (2004–2006), deputy administrator (2000–2004) and finance director (1996–2000) for the waterway, playing a role in laying the groundwork for the Panama Canal Expansion Program. Recently, he served as General Electric’s executive director (2013–2015), vice president, and CEO for Central America and the Caribbean (2008–2011).

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He has a doctorate in managerial economics and a Master’s Degree in Operations Research and Statistics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He also has a master’s degree in economics from North Carolina State University.

To guarantee a smooth succession, Vasquez will soon begin a transition period under the guidance of Quijano, who will be retiring after more than 40 years in the waterway. Over the next few months, Vasquez will join key upcoming conversations with stakeholders and observe day-to-day activities to adapt to his new role

“We are committed to ensuring that Mr. Vasquez acquires the knowledge and expertise required for a smooth transition,” said Quijano. “As was the case during past transition periods, we can assure the maritime community that the waterway will continue to offer uninterrupted, reliable and safe service to its customers.”

Vasquez will become the fourth Panamanian administrator of the waterway shortly before it celebrates its 20th year under Panamanian administration on December 31. Past Panamanian administrators include 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.

The Panama Canal Board of Directors, also announced the appointment of Ilya Espino de Marotta as the next Deputy administrator. Espino de Marotta will take office in January 2020, when the current deputy administrator, Manuel Benitez, retires after more than 40 years with the Panama Canal.

Espino de Marotta began her career in the waterway in 1985 and has more than 30 years of experience at the Panama Canal. She was recently appointed vice president of transit business and led the Panama Canal Expansion Program as executive vice president for engineering.

Espino de Marotta earned a degree in marine engineering from Texas A&M University. She and a master’s degree in economic engineering from the Universidad Santa María La Antigua in Panama City, Panama. She participated in the Executive Development Program at INCAE Business School and Northwestern University- Kellog School of Management, and has a project manager certification from the Project Management Institute.