Juan Carlos Varela

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Varela and the second or maternal family name is Rodríguez.
Juan Carlos Varela
Juan Carlos Varela (2014).jpg
37th President of the Republic of Panama
Assumed office
1 July 2014
Vice President Isabel Saint Malo
Preceded by Ricardo Martinelli
Vice-President of Panama
In office
1 July 2009 – 1 July 2014
President Ricardo Martinelli
Preceded by Samuel Lewis Navarro
Succeeded by Isabel Saint Malo
Personal details
Born Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez
(1963-12-12) 12 December 1963 (age 53)
Panama City, Panama
Political party Panameñista Party
Spouse(s) Lorena Castillo García (m. 1992–Present),
now styled Honorable Señora Lorena Castillo de Varela
Children Gian Carlo
Alma mater Georgia Institute of Technology
Religion Roman Catholicism

Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez (born 12 December 1963) is a Panamanian politician, and the President of Panama since 2014.

Varela was Vice-President of Panama from 2009 to 2014, and Minister of Foreign Relations from July 2009 to August 2011. He has been President of the Panameñistas, the third-largest political party in Panama, since 2006.

On 4 May 2014, 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 education[edit]

Born in Panama City, Juan Carlos 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.[2] 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.[3]


In the private sector, Varela has been on the board of his family company since 1985, serving as Executive Vice-President of Varela Hermanos S.A. until 2008.[4]

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 July 1, 2009 as Vice-President of Panama under President Martinelli.[5] 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.[6]

Odebrecht Bribery Scandal[edit]

In Panama, 17 business executives and former officials have been charged, and one former Odebrecht executive has said he paid bribes to the sons of former president Ricardo Martinelli. The sons deny it. Prosecutors investigating the Odebrecht case have also raided the offices of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the "Panama Papers" leak.[7] According to Geovanny Vicente Romero, a political Analyst from Washington D.C. and columnist for TeleSUR, “until the implication that Panama’s current president could have linkages to the Odebrecht scandal, Panama and Peru had been the most aggressive countries in prosecuting these corruption cases. Panama’s Office of the Attorney General had identified 17 people connected with receiving bribes totaling $59 million. It remains to be seen the direction President Varela will take now that his own administration is under extreme scrutiny.” [8]

Personal life[edit]

Styles of
Juan Carlos Varela
Presidente de la República de Panamá
Coat of arms of Panama.svg
Reference style Excelentísimo Señor Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez
Spoken style Mr President
Alternative style Señor Varela or Sir
Cross pro merito Melitensi

He is the son of José Varela and Beixie née Rodríguez.

Varela married Lorena Castillo, a journalist, in 1992.[9] They reside in Panama City and have three sons: Gian Carlo, Adrian and Stefan.[9]

See also[edit]


External sources[edit]

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