CAN-DO ATTITUDE

Panama 2014 | DIPLOMACY | INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

HE Juan Carlos Varela, President of Republic of Panama, on the country's economic efforts, infrastructure expansion, and strengthening the institution.

HE Juan Carlos Varela
BIOGRAPHY
Juan Carlos Varela graduated in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech in the US. In the private sector, he led the growth of a Panamanian company with a long history, which generated thousands of jobs in Panama called Varela Hermanos. With a great social vision from the private sector, Varela supported the promotion of projects in favor of culture, sports, education, folklore, and the environment. He was elected Vice-President of the Republic of Panama in July 2009, and in just two years of government he kept the social promises made during his campaign, including: the Program 100 to 70, which aimed at raising the minimum wage. On March 17, 2013, Juan Carlos Varela became the Presidential Candidate for the Panameñista Party and on August 25 of the same year, he was proclaimed the candidate for the Alliance of "The People First" (Alianza "El Pueblo Primero”), made up by the Panameñista and Popular Party, and the support of independent sectors of the country. On May 4, 2014, Varela was elected President of the Republic of Panama for the 2014-2019 Constitutional period.

We begin a new era of our Republic and our democracy. An era of peace, tolerance, consensus, unity, and social justice with a government that will put people first in all of its decisions. I accept the historic responsibility of leading this country, aware of the great challenges that lie ahead: maintaining economic growth with equity, dealing with debt, increasing investment, and fighting for transparency and the implementation of a process of justice and equity recovery, with respect for the rule of law. I pledge in my management to set up an honest, transparent, and efficient government, whose only objective will be to serve society, improve public services, and equitably distribute the wealth and heritage that God has bequeathed to this beautiful country. I wish to make clear that the foreign policy of our government will be based on dialogue, convergence, tolerance, and mediation, in search of the well being of all peoples. As President, I will work tirelessly to ensure that all Panamanians are responsible world citizens and our isthmus is a point of convergence and unity, serving our people and the international community with our extensive transport and logistics infrastructure and Canal, port, airport, and the Colón Free Trade Zone. I seal my commitment to delivering and to assuming this position for the sole purpose of serving our people, the region, and the world. Over the coming years, we will undertake major works, but the greatest legacy to future generations will be a functional democracy where state resources are used only to serve the people. Corruption will not be tolerated in our government.

Based on this commitment, from this moment we start the most important aspect: the transformation from politics based on business and patronage to politics based on service and a clear vision for the state. We will encourage foreign investment and tourism development, in search of creating more jobs with higher wages. We will strengthen legal security and respect the commercial diplomacy of countries that promote their businesses, all this based on the highest possible standards of transparency and honesty, in defense of the interests of our country. I will sign a historic decree that will establish the return of price controls to the basic food basket in order to avoid speculation. I am respectful of the free market, but I am opposed to speculation when this affects the food of the people.

In Colón, we will start a restoration project for this beautiful city so it can again become the jewel of the Caribbean, as it was in the past. In San Miguelito, we will implement a joint task force that will impact more than 300,000 households, giving them basic health and a roof of hope to all those families. Focusing on improving the quality of life, we will give our city an accessible and efficient metropolitan public transport system, building lines two and three of the subway and incorporating the Metro Bus. Hope will return to the neighborhoods. With our “Safe Neighborhoods" Plan, we will transform the city of Colón and begin the transformation of other forgotten neighborhoods with “More Opportunities and Firm Hand." We will build new centers and community facilities to make sport and culture available to our young people, so they can grow healthy and coexist healthy.

We will invite the over 200 operating gangs in the country to take advantage of an amnesty to surrender their weapons, cut their ties with organized crime, and enter formal life. Over the coming months, more than a thousand Panamanian teachers will depart for training in the English language, so we can commence our bilingual education project. At the same time, we will undertake the nationwide construction of vocational colleges. The Universal Fellowship will be strengthened and the benefits for people over 65 will be increased from 70 to 120, and we will promote an agreement with the Social Security Fund to provide health coverage to these senior citizens. We have been blessed by the Panama Canal, a work in the service of our country and global trade. As President, I will ensure that the expansion of the Canal is culminated successfully, protecting the interests of the Panamanian State. I wish to send a message to all producers in Chiriqui and to our farmers: farm your land and resume production. As President of the country, there is a man in whose veins runs peasant blood who will give them all the support they require, and price and market stability to increase our food production and ensure food security.

“From this moment we start the most important aspect: the transformation from politics based on business and patronage to politics based on service and a clear vision for the state. We will encourage foreign investment and tourism development, in search of creating more jobs with higher wages."

I invite the health and education sectors for immediate dialogue. The unification of medical services can wait no longer. The savings will be split into two, with one half to improve services and the other to increase the salaries of our health workers. With regard to the education sector, dialogue in search of improving education and working conditions is a permanent process. The doors of the presidency will be open to all Panamanians who struggle and work daily for our country. Respect and tolerance will be the basis of our ties with all trade unions and associations in the country.

Today, a new stage of maturity, respect, and institutional strengthening starts for our country. We aim to protect the lives of all citizens. This is our only mission and from this moment, partisan politics will be once and for all removed from our security agencies. I have appointed qualified officers to direct all our security sectors. With them, and the 15,000 men and women who are part of the public security force, we will work to remove organized crime, drug traffickers, and money launderers from our neighborhoods, our country, and our region in order to protect our citizens and the integrity of our financial and logistic system. I make a call to lay aside any differences and to seek the progress and welfare of our people, the social peace necessary to move forward together as a nation and make way for a new era of peace, and prosperity and equity for all Panamanians and for those who have made this land their new home.

With great humility, I take the responsibility and commitment to set up an honest and transparent government that will respect the balance by which the Panamanian people voted in the elections, and that will invest the wealth of our country so as to positively impact the quality of life of all Panamanians, without distinction of any kind. For Panama to be a role model of democracy we will always seek the unity of our people and our region, supporting a non-confrontational world where our enemies will be hunger, inequality, and the other problems that affect us.