PANAMA - Diplomacy
President Laurentino “Nito“ Cortizo Cohen obtained his degree in business administration from the University of Norwich in the US and his MBA and doctorate in international trade and marketing from the University of Austin, Texas. He was a member of the legislative assembly from 1994-2004, and between 2004 and 2006 he was appointed Minister of Agricultural Development during the administration of President Martín Torrijos Espino. In 2016, he decided to run as a presidential candidate, winning the primaries of his party. In 2019, he became the President-Elect of the Republic of Panama.
My fellow Panamanians, we have monumental challenges and great national tasks ahead. It is time to take the lead. Another stage begins, that of joining forces. It took us almost a hundred years to recover the Canal for Panama and reach our total sovereignty, a conquest that Omar Torrijos called the Fifth Frontier. Almost 20 years have passed since that historic reparation, which united our nation into one territory and under one single flag.
Now, the next conquest is the Sixth Frontier, the fight against poverty and inequality. The country of bounty and prosperity cannot hide from misery. Panama, a country whose figures show economic growth, in the last 10 years has tripled its debt, and the great national problems have worsened. Today, we are the sixth country in the world in inequality, which is unacceptable. Our challenge is to create a prosperous country of law and order, and above all, a fair country; a Panama that brings opportunities for all. This is our vision; this is our purpose.
Dear friends, this is a new beginning, to rescue Panama. Our country has been disrespected and abused to date. Today begins the victory of hope. With love, I want to express my gratitude. I want to thank God and my family. I also want to commit to all Panamanians. Day by day, I will earn your trust with my actions and decisions. We will leave a legacy with the foundations and the pillars of a different country, a better country.
The President of the Republic of Panama, with pride, tells you that work dignifies man. I am now the first worker in the country. I know how to work hard, with organization and discipline and with an aligned team. Panama summons us all. I am ready and the team is ready to grow like never before. To be proud of being Panamanians, to repair what needs to be repaired, to cut weeds from the fields, to start the new planting, and to reap our future: a Panama with opportunities for everyone. Let us make a cherished homeland. We have everything we need to do it. We have to do it; united we will.
Ladies and gentlemen, the interests of the country are always at the forefront. No individual interest, political or economic, will ever come above national interests. Our country has already suffered enough. Public funds are and will be sacred; we all have to be held accountable to the country. We will work without stealing. There will be no untouchables, even if they are ministers, legislators, prominent businesspeople, or even the president himself. Panama demands the restoration of an effective justice system.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the past are the lessons of good and bad, in the present is the determination to act, and in the future, the Panama of opportunities becomes a reality for all. The Five Panamas—the modern, the neighborhoods, the middle class, the rural, and the regions—expect us to act. I am optimistic. Women, men, all Panamanians, I summon you to unite and set aside your differences, to produce the consensus, to make serious commitments, and to build bridges, without interests that prevail or groups that want to impose, and without hate that solves nothing. We are all summoned; we must restore trust between us, with faith. Better days are coming for Panama.
Dear friend, a good government is a team. A team aligned in permanent contact with the communities that prioritizes and executes with transparency and efficiency and works without stealing. A team with energy, with character and without arrogance that consults with all. An accountable team, one that facilitates good investments, treats people like people, and serves and is useful to Panamanians. I instruct all government officials to act in a coordinated manner in the same direction, for the same purpose, with ethics, morality, and honesty.
Dear Panamanians, our Uniendo Fuerzas (Uniting Forces) Action Plan points in the direction of our government. It contains 125 commitments in four pillars and one star: good government; rule of law and law and order; a competitive economy that generates employment; combating poverty and inequality; and our centerpiece—education. There is no nobler task than transforming the country’s education system. Complying with the National Commitment to Education, we will move forward with the transformation of our education system to teach our students to think to work as a team and to solve problems. The actions of all members of the government team must be aligned and framed within the action plan.
In addition, starting with the President of the Republic, I will require all members of the government team to adopt a code of conduct in the exercise of their public functions. My greatest satisfaction at the end of my presidential term will be to walk with my head high without feeling ashamed and continue to receive the affection that Panamanians give me today. It is not how I got to the Presidency; it is how I will leave it.
Dear friends, Panama needs everyone. The homeland summons us, without conditions or further delay. Let us move in the right direction. The moment of truth has come. I cannot do it alone; I need all of you, everyone. Panama in your name, united we will. And, after five years of overcoming the challenges of transformations and regaining national self-esteem with the pride of being Panamanians, we can all say, “United we did it.” God bless Panama, thank you.
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