Entrepreneur Ricardo Martinelli, new elected president of Panama

· Latin America, Politic

Ricardo Martinelli, an entrepreneur and the main leader of the opposition, was elected president of Panama with a 60 per cent of voting, according to the National Election Council of the South American nation. The second in the elections was the social-democrat Balbina Herrera who got a voting between 32 and 36 per cent, while former president Guillermo Endara remained in a very low position with only 2 per cent.

Martinelli, who is well known as the millionaire owner of a chain of markets in Panama, said that he will make a government of national unity after he knew the results proclaimed in television by the national election council. It is also the first rightist candidate to win the presidential elections in Latin American after a succession of leftist to the first seat of the countries like in Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Martinelli will govern Panama between 1rst July 2009 and 2014.

The new president will receive a country with great challenges like finishing the widen of the Panama Canal that have a cost of about 5 thousand million dollars to increase its capacity of transport among the two oceans. The financial crisis and the increase of urban violence will be in the agenda of Martinelli that was favorite among the most poor of the country, according to the national press.

The Panamanians elected also the National Assembly representatives, mayors and other political figures wide the country. The Panama Canal was the main subject of the elections among Martinelli and Herrera, a great creator of employment and the first source of the Panamanian economy. However, the current financial crisis has caused uncertainties.

The defeated candidate Balbina Herrera accepted the election of Martinelli. According with La Vanguardia, the defeat of Herrera in the election is possible to the opposition of workers of San Miguelito, a town where she was major. The workers made Herrera responsible for the high inflation and they pointed out that she had links with Noriega.


Among the promises of Martinelli is the construction of a metropolitan train for Panama City and a social program of housing for the poor. The coming of Martinelli to the presidency coincid with the economical blooming of Panama due to the economical reactivation of the Canal, the dollarization, the political stability and the growing in investment of enterprisers from Colombia, United States and Venezuela. For many observers, Panama became the “New Miami” where thousand of foreigners like pensioners, workers and investors, come to stay. According to International Living, Panama is one of the best six first places for pensioners that became a great source of incomes for the country. However, the economical boom of Panama has also other consequences: criminality has grown also under the hand of organized crime and drug dealers.

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