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Ricardo Martinelli

Assumed office 
July 1, 2009
Vice President Juan Carlos Varela
Preceded by Martín Torrijos

Born March 11, 1952 (1952-03-11) (age 58)
Panama City, Panama
Political party Democratic Change
Spouse(s) Marta Linares
Alma mater University of Arkansas
INCAE Business School
Occupation Businessman, Politician
Religion Roman Catholic

Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal (born 11 March 1952, in Panama City).[1] is the 49th and current President of the Republic of Panama. He is a Panamanian politician and businessman of Italian descent from his father's side.


Early life

Martinelli is the son of Ricardo Martinelli Pardini and Gloria Berrocal Fabrega.[1] He completed his secondary education at Staunton Military Academy in Staunton, Virginia in the United States.[2] In 1973, he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Arkansas.[3] He later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the INCAE Business School.[2] Martinelli is married to Marta Linares and has three children: Ricardo Martinelli Linares, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares and Carolina Martinelli Linares.[1]

Business career

Martinelli is currently the chairman of the board of Panama's Super 99 supermarket chain.[1][2] He is chairman of two other companies and sits on the boards of at least eight other companies.[1]


During the presidency of Ernesto Pérez Balladares, Martinelli served as Director of Social Security from 1994 to 1996.[2] From September 1999 to January 2003, during the presidency of Mireya Moscoso, he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal and as the Minister for Canal Affairs.[2]

Martinelli is the president of the Democratic Change party, which was founded in May 1998.[2] He was the leader of the party and a presidential candidate during the 2004 general election, when his party came last; Martinelli received 5.3% of the vote and came in a distant fourth place in the presidential election.[4]

Martinelli was the leader of Democratic Change and presidential candidate in the 2009 general election.[2] He made promises to cut political corruption and reduce violent crime and spent an estimated $35 million on promoting his campaign.[4] Martinelli was the favourite to win the election and opinion polls gave him a double-digit lead over the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party-People's Party coalition.[4] He has the support of the Alliance for Change, a group of political parties which includes his own Democratic Change party, the Panameñista Party, the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement and the Patriotic Union Party.[2]

In 2004 Ricardo Martinelli founded "The Ricardo Martinelli Foundation", for which he acts as fundraiser. The Foundation grants more than 8,000 scholarships a year to poor students with good scholastic averages.[citation needed]

On May 3, 2009, Ricardo Martinelli won the national elections by a landslide, with over 60% of the votes compared to his closest rival, Balbina Herrera, who received about 36%. This was the most ample margin ever recorded since 1989.[5] He was sworn in on July 1, 2009.[6]

On September 25th 2009 Martinelli threw out the first pitch at a New York Yankees game. Mariano Rivera, the Yankees' relief pitcher and fellow Panamanian, caught the ball.

During January-February 2010, Martinelli has been involved in a scandal involving trying to appoint a new Public Minister of his choice, while the document establishes that the Public Minister must choose its own replacement during its absence. Public Minister Ana Matilde Gómez is being investigated of having abused her power.[7]. This has triggered small protests at Parque Porras, home to the Legislative Branch of the government.


On February 20, 2010 The University of Arkansas established the Ricardo A. Martinelli Berrocal Scholarship to provide financial aid to prospective University of Arkansas students from Panama. He was also presented with the Citation of Distinguished Alumnus award, and made an official ambassador of the State of Arkansas by Governor Mike Beebe.[1]


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Martín Torrijos
President of Panama

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