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Juan Carlos Varela, Panama's president the next five years, has named several former aides to key cabinet posts. (Photo:
Brazil's finance minister and future president Fernando Henrique Cardoso launched the first Real in July 1994. (Photo: PSDB)
One of the last print editions of Hoy in Ecuador and a solidarity issue in 2011 with another persecuted newspaper.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Trade Talk

Panama: Team Varela, Brazil Real Anniversary

Panama’s new cabinet, the Brazil real turns 20, Ecuador paper stops print version.


Juan Carlos Varela, Panama’s president from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2019, has announced his cabinet. He succeeds Ricardo Martinelli, who served as president since July 2009.

Several of members of his team are old hands from when Varela was foreign minister (2009 to 2011) before splitting with Martinelli. That’s the case with the new economy and commerce ministers Dulcidio de la Guardia and Meliton Arrocha. Meanwhile, in a surprise move, he kept Roberto Roy as canal minister and executive secretary of the Panama metro. The latter was one of the key projects Martinelli.

Minister of Economy and Finance

Dulicidio de la Guardia served as Panama’s deputy minister of economy and finance from July 2009 to July 2011. He has ample experience from the banking sector, having served as executive director of HSBC Bank in Panama, Vice President of Banco Continental de Panama, director of MMG Bank and Executive Vice President of Banistmo Securities. Before his latest appointment he served as chief operating officer of law firm Morgan & Morgan.

Graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Business Administration (1984), holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Loyola University (1986), New Orleans, Louisiana, and is Charter Financial Analyst (CFA) by the CFA Institute from Charlottesville Virginia on December 2000.

Minister of Commerce and Industry

Meliton Arrocha served as deputy foreign minister from 2009 to 2011. He has also served as deputy minister of commerce between 2003 and 2005 and deputy chief of staff for President Mireya Moscoso between 1999 and 2000.

In the private sector he has headed up law firm Arrocha & Co. since 1994.

Canal Affairs Minister and Executive Secretary of the Panama Metro

Roberto Roy has been minister of canal affairs since 2012 and executive secretary of the Panama Metro since 2009.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority from 1998 through 2007 and Presided over the Blue Ribbon Engineering Committee, a panel that together with the United States Corps of Engineers evaluated the infrastructure of the Panama Canal and recommended improvements to the waterway (1996-1998).

Roy is the president and founder of Ingeniería  R-M and affiliates, one of the largest construction groups in Panama .

He has a degree in Civil Engineering from Universidad Santa Maria la Antigua, a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's degree in Industrial Management, both from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Minister of Public Works

Ramon Arosemena has been president of American Engineering Group in Miami since 2001.

He has more than 28 years experience with public transport work, especially in Florida.

“This is an exceptional group of Panamanians, who are not only professionally prepared but also motivated to serve the country,” Varela said when announcing the appointments.


Brazil’s currency, the Real, has grown up. This month – July 1 to be exact – it celebrates 20 years.

It was launched by then-Finance Minister Fernando Henrique Cardoso and formed part of a broad plan (Plano Real) to reduce inflation through restrictive fiscal and monetary policies and the new currency.

As a result of the Plano real, inflation went from a whopping 2,076 percent in 1994 to 66 percent in 1995 and 3.2 percent in 1998. Its initial success played a key role in boosting local and foreign investment in Brazil and helped propel Cardoso to Brazil’s presidency in October 1994.

However, with rising inflation in recent years, local newspaper Valor Economico says the Real Plan is “unfinished.” Expansionary fiscal policies during the last two administrations has led to higher inflation than expected, although it’s still low compared to before the Real was launched.


After 32 years, Ecuadorian newspaper Hoy has stopped publishing its print edition as a direct result of the growing restrictions on press freedom in the South American country.

In an editorial on June 29, the paper blames its decision on the new Communication Law’s limits on investments in national media, the public sector boycott of ads in Hoy and the cancellation of contracts to print school books.

The paper’s last print edition on June 29 was followed by a relaunch of its web site on June 30. Hoy also plans to launch a weekend print edition.

“Despite the difficulties, Hoy looks to the future with optimism and hope because we believe that the great values that the Ecuadorian people have expressed during its history, of repudiations against impositions, dictatorships and authoritarianisms and defense of democracy and liberty,” the paper said in its editorial.

President Rafael Correa, who has been in power since 2007, has repeatedly attacked independent and opposition journalists and media. The Inter-American Press Association has provided an overview of the key attacks and threats in its latest report.

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