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Cablegate: Panama: Biographic Information On Vice

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PANAMA 001016

SIPDIS


DEPT. FOR WHA/CEN/BRIGHAM, INR/B, AND OPS CENTER
NSC FOR TOM SHANNON


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/02/2014
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL PM POLITICS FOREIGN POLICY
SUBJECT: PANAMA: BIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION ON VICE
PRESIDENTS-ELECT SAMUEL LEWIS NAVARRO AND RUBEN AROSEMENA
VALDEZ

REF: A. PANAMA 1014
B. PANAMA 1015


Classified By: DCM Christopher J. McMullen for Reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)


Summary: The "Gringo handler" and the politician
--------------------------------------------- ---

1. (SBU) Martin Torrijos chose a seasoned businessman with
strong political connections as his First Vice President and
a soft-spoken, but seasoned politician as his Second Vice
President. First Vice President-elect Samuel Lewis Navarro
is the son of former Noriega foreign minister (later
anti-Noriega exile) Gabriel Lewis Galindo. The Torrijos
team's chief "Gringo handler," the articulate, intelligent,
pro-U.S. Lewis Navarro is a successful businessman with
multi-national interests in fruit and packaging. Many have
speculated that Lewis Navarro will serve double duty as
Torrijos' Foreign Minister. Second Vice President-elect
Ruben Arosemena is the President of the Popular Party (PP),
which joined forces with the PRD for the 2004 campaign. Many
campaign observers have suggested Arosemena, a second-term
legislator from an influential political family, will
spearhead President-elect Torrijos' anti-corruption
initiatives.


Vice President-elect Lewis: The Businessman
-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Born on July 15, 1957, Samuel Lewis Navarro is a
non-politician who is extremely well-connected politically.
He was the frequent companion of his father, Gabriel Lewis
Galindo, during the latter's long career -- which included
assignment to Washington as the Panamanian Ambassador to the
U.S. (1977-78), a period of exile in the US during the 1980s,
founding support work in the National Civic Crusade against
Noriega, and finally a term as Foreign Minister (1994-96)
during the Perez Balladares administration. Lewis Navarro
has maintained his father's high-level political connections
in the US. Former President Jimmy Carter and members of the
Kennedy family have visited his home on Contadora Island off
the Pacific coast of Panama.


3. (C) Samuel Lewis Navarro is a close personal friend of
Martin Torrijos. He was the Vice President of the Solidarity
Party until February 2003 when he withdrew his support from
that party (his uncle, Samuel Lewis Galindo, is the party
president) due to its choice of 2004 second-place finisher,
former President Guillermo Endara as its presidential
candidate. Vice President-elect Lewis had wanted Solidarity
to back Torrijos after 1999 third-place finisher Alberto
Vallarino (17%) dropped out of the race in January 2003.
Lewis Navarro only made the formal break with Solidarity
almost a year later when he announced his candidacy as Martin
Torrijos' running mate. (Comment: Vice President-elect Lewis
was not alone in his desire that Solidarity support Torrijos.
Allegations appear farfetched that Samuel's opportunistic
uncle used his party to support Endara only to split anti-PRD
votes between Endara and 2004 third-place finisher Arnulfista
candidate Jose Miguel Aleman, thus ensuring a Torrijos win.
End Comment.)


4. (SBU) Lewis Navarro worked on behalf of the Solidarity
Party for the presidential campaigns of his uncle, Samuel
Lewis Galindo in 1994 and also that of Alberto Vallarino in
1999. In addition to his political connections, Samuel Lewis
Navarro has also consistently focused his efforts on running
his family business CIACSA, a holding company that controls
the Lewis family's numerous domestic and international
business interests focused primarily on boxes/paper products
and fruit processing. Appointed to the Board of Directors of
the Panama Canal Authority by former President Ernesto Perez
Balladares (1994-99), Lewis Navarro was replaced in May 2001
by a Moscoso appointee.


5. (U) Lewis Navarro has an undergraduate degree in business
from Georgetown University. He is married to his second
wife, with whom he has two children. He also has a son and a
daughter from his first marriage. Panama City Mayor Juan
Carlos Navarro is Samuel's first cousin; the two have a close
relationship.


Vice President-elect Arosemena: The Politician
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (SBU) Ruben Eloy Arosemena Valdez was born on April 11,
1960. After attending the prestigious Panama City catholic
high school Colegio La Salle, Arosemena obtained an
undergraduate law degree at the Universidad de Santa Maria La
Antigua (USMA), also in Panama City. Later, Arosemena
obtained a Masters in International and Comparative Law from
Southern Methodist University.


7. (SBU) Ruben Arosemena, the son of Christian Democratic
Party (PDC)-founder Ruben Arosemena Guardia, is the President
of the Popular Party (PP), which replaced the PDC. After his
first position as Provincial Secretary General, Arosemena
advanced through the ranks of the PDC to become national
Joint Secretary General for the PDC's youth wing. Ruben was
the PDC Secretary General in 1994 and a member of the Party's
Executive Committee. Before moving on to the Legislative
Assembly, Arosemena's first elected position was as local
representative (Representante de Corregimiento) for the
Panama City area of Bella Vista from 1984-89.


8. (SBU) The pinaccle of Arosemena's legislative career was
his 2001-02 position as President of Panama's Legislative
Assembly. He began working in the assembly as an alternate
to Carlos Arrellano Lennox from 1989-94 in the upper-middle
class 8-8 electoral circuit. During the same period, Ruben
was also the Assembly's Secretary General. In 1994, Arosemena
succeeded Arrellano to win the legislative seat that he now
holds. He won re-election to the same seat in 1999.


9. (U) Prior to entering politics, Arosemena practiced law
at the family law firm, R.R. Arosemena and Associates. He is
married to the former Pilar Arias, niece of PDC co-founder
Ricardo Arias Calderon who served as Endara's First Vice
President. The couple has two young daughters. Ruben speaks
fluent English and is a member of the Panamanian Association
of Business Executives (APEDE) and the Rotary Club. He
enjoys fishing.


10. (C) Comment: The Vice Presidents-elect, like Martin
Torrijos, represent the same new generation of political
leaders, one that all hope will leave behind the rampant
patronage and nepotism that characterized the old.


WATT

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