Panama City, Panama, September 5, 2019 – Ricaurte Vásquez Morales, Ph.D., an economist with more than 30 years’ experience in the public and private sector, was sworn-in as the new administrator of the Panama Canal today for a seven-year term at the helm of the waterway, shortly before the Canal celebrates its 20th year under Panamanian administration on December 31, 2019.

“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.

On February 15, the Panama Canal Board of Directors, appointed Dr. Vásquez as new Canal administrator in accordance with an independent, transparent and rigorous process mandated by the Panamanian Constitution and the Organic Law of the Panama Canal.

Dr. Vásquez 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 begins his term a month before the end of the 2019 fiscal year on September 30, 2019. His appointment takes place during a period of unprecedented growth and record-breaking tonnage for the waterway, set forth by the opening of the Expanded Canal in June 2016.

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.

During the transition period Dr. Vásquez gradually joined the Canal’s institutional and labor regulations and participated in the presentation of the Canal budget for the 2020 fiscal year, in order to ensure a smooth succession, guaranteeing customers an uninterrupted, reliable and safe service.

About Dr. Ricaurte Vásquez Morales

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.

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
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, so that the Canal may operate in a safe, continuous, efficient manner. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s website: or follow us on Twitter @thepanamacanal.