Juan Carlos Varela, IE 1985, Elected President of Panama

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ISyE alumnus, Juan Carlos Varela, IE 1985, was declared the victor of Panama's presidential election on May 4, 2014. Varela, who will take office July 1, dedicated his victory to Panama's democracy. He has been the Vice President of Panama since 2009.

Born in Panama City, Varela is an entrepreneur, with family roots in the province of Herrera. After graduating from Colegio Javier, he attended Georgia Tech, where he received a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering in 1985. In the private sector, Varela has been on the board of Varela Hermanos, a family company, since 1985 and was executive vice president of the company until 2008.

Politically, Varela has worked in political campaigns beginning in the 1990s, was chief of the Panameñista Party campaign in 1994 and was the Panameñista Party's presidential candidate during the 2009 election. He has also served as the Minister of Foreign Relations from July 2009 until August 2011. Varela joined forces with his rival in the presidential run, previous President Ricardo Martinelli, as the candidate for Vice President, and on May 3, 2009, was sworn in as Vice-President of Panama. A free-market conservative, Varela has strong social credentials, having been the architect of a popular program at the start of Ricardo Martinelli's presidency to provide a $100 monthly stipend to Panamanians over age 70 without a pension or retirement benefits.


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