Juan Carlos Varela

Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez "Tortugón" (Spanish pronunciation: [xwaŋ ˈkaɾloz βaˈɾela roˈðɾiɣes]; born 13 December 1963) is a Panamanian businessman and politician serving as the President of Panama from 2014 to 2019. Varela was Vice President of Panama from 2009 to 2014, and Minister of Foreign Relations from July 2009 to August 2011. He was President of the Panameñistas, the third-largest political party in Panama, from 2006 to 2016.

Juan Carlos Varela
Juan Carlos Varela (2014).jpg
37th President of Panama
In office
1 July 2014 – 1 July 2019
Vice PresidentIsabel Saint Malo
Preceded byRicardo Martinelli
Succeeded byLaurentino Cortizo
Vice-President of Panama
In office
1 July 2009 – 1 July 2014
PresidentRicardo Martinelli
Preceded bySamuel Lewis Navarro
Succeeded byIsabel Saint Malo
Minister of Foreign Relations
In office
1 July 2009 – 30 August 2012
PresidentRicardo Martinelli
Preceded bySamuel Lewis Navarro
Succeeded byRoberto Henriquez
Personal details
Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez

(1963-12-12) 12 December 1963 (age 56)
Panama City, Panama
Political partyPanameñista Party
Spouse(s)Lorena Castillo García (m. 1992–present),
now styled Honorable Señora Lorena Castillo de Varela
Alma materGeorgia Institute of Technology (BS)

Varela won the 2014 presidential election with over 39% of the votes, against the Cambio Democrático Party, led by his former political partner Ricardo Martinelli, whose candidate was José Domingo Arias.[1] He was sworn in as president on 1 July 2014.

Early life and educationEdit

Born in Panama City to Luis José Varela Arjona and Bexie Esther Rodríguez Pedreschi.[2][3] Varela is a businessman and entrepreneur, whose family hails from Herrera Province. His paternal grandfather José Varela Blanco emigrated from Bergondo, Galicia in Spain and settled in the district of Pesé, Herrera in Panama.[4] After graduating from Colegio Javier, he attended the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering in 1985.[5]


In the private sector, Varela has been on the board of his family company since 1986, serving as Executive Vice-President of Varela Hermanos S.A. until 2008.[6]

Varela entered politics in the early 1990s, becoming chief of the Panameñista Party campaign in 1994 and was the Panameñista Party's presidential candidate during the 2009 election; Varela joined forces with his rival, Ricardo Martinelli, as vice-presidential candidate, being sworn in on 1 July 2009 as Vice-President of Panama under President Martinelli.[7] Varela won the 2014 presidential election, winning against the ruling-party candidate José Domingo Arias, who was supported by Cambio Democrático, a party led by outgoing President Ricardo Martinelli. Varela won about 39% of the vote against 32% for Arias.[8] The subject announced he would seek to change the legislative body through constitutional changes.[9]

He is suspected of being involved in the Odebrecht corruption scandal (a Brazilian company that paid bribes to politicians)[10]

Its popularity is affected by declining economic activity, rising living costs, corruption scandals and the crisis in the health and justice sectors.[11]

Styles of
Juan Carlos Varela
Reference styleHis Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Alternative styleSir

Personal lifeEdit

Cross pro merito Melitensi

He is the son of José Varela and Beixie née Rodríguez. Varela married Panamanian journalist Lorena Castillo in 1992.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Panama's New President: A Boost for Business". Time. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  2. ^ Muere el padre del vicepresidente Varela – 11 de junio de 2011
  3. ^ Fallece madre de Juan Carlos Varela – 26 October 2007
  4. ^ President of Panama visits Galicia 2016
  5. ^ "Launching of the Center". Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Innovation and Research Center. 28 September 2010. Archived from the original on 18 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  6. ^ www.varelahermanos.com
  7. ^ "Transmision de Mando Presidencial (Spanish)".
  8. ^ Randal C. Archibold, "Incumbent’s Party Loses Presidency in Panama", The New York Times, 4 May 2014
  9. ^ Reuters Staff. (5 May 2018). "Panama to hold presidential election in May 2019". Reuters website. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  10. ^ https://www.elconfidencial.com/mundo/2017-02-10/escandalo-odebrecht-panama-juan-carlos-varela_1329461/
  11. ^ https://www.nouvelobs.com/monde/20190505.AFP5855/elections-generales-au-panama-ouverture-des-bureaux-de-vote-apres-une-morne-campagne.html
  12. ^ "First Lady of Panama Lorena Castillo de Varela". Embassy of Panama in Manila, Philippines. Retrieved 14 June 2016.

External sourcesEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Marco Ameglio
President of the Panameñista Party
Political offices
Preceded by
Samuel Lewis Navarro
Minister of Foreign Relations
Succeeded by
Roberto Henríquez
Vice-President of Panama
Succeeded by
Isabel Saint Malo
Preceded by
Ricardo Martinelli
President of Panama
Succeeded by
Laurentino Cortizo