Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal
President of the Republic of Panama

Wharton Speaker >> Biography

"Change is on its way" and " the foolishness is over" are some of the phrases that characterize Ricardo A. Martinelli Berrocal, a Panamanian elected on May 2, 2009 as President of Republic of Panama. He was elected with a majority of 60.3 percent, one of the largest margins obtained by a presidential candidate.

Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, successful businessman and owner of the largest supermarket chain in the country, Super 99, was born on March 11, l952 in the city of Panamá. Since his political career began, he has been highlighted for his style, placing the interest of the people first and thinking about the needs of the majorities.

A hardworking man, who speaks his mind, visionary, leader, humanist and kind hearted, Ricardo Martinelli is the son of Dr. Ricardo Martineli Pardini (deceased), and Mrs. Gloria Berrocal de Martinelli. Married to Marta Linares de Martinelli, they have two sons and one daughter: Ricardo Alberto, Luis Enrique and Carolina Isabel.

Martinelli Berrocal did his primary studies in La Salle School where he obtained a Perito Mercantil degree. His bachelor's degree was obtained at Staunton Military Academy in Virginia, USA. He later received a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with specialization in Marketing at the University of Arkansas and an MBA at INCAE Business School, ranked as the number one international business school of Latin America, headquartered in Costa Rica.

After completing college, Martinelli worked as Assistant Manager of Citibank N.A., between 1977 and 1980. In 1981 he began his upward career in Super 99 as General Manager of the stores. He eventually became the owner of the supermarkets, transforming them into a successful chain. In the business environment, Martinelli Berrocal has been president of Importadora Ricamar S.A. He has served as a member of the board of directors or as shareholder in several companies in the country. Among them: Azucarera La Victoria, ERA Company and the plastic factory Plastigol.

Also served as director of companies such as Gold Mills of Panama, Global Bank, Panasal S.A., Televisora Nacional of Panamá, Direct TV, Desarrollo Norte S.A. Molino de Oro, AVIPAC, and Calox Panameña, among others. He was director of the Board of Director of International Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, United States.

He served as Director and Deputy Director of the Panamanian Chamber of Commerce from 1985-1987. He served as President of the Association of Food Merchants of Panamá (ACOVIPA); the Italo-Panamanian Chamber and is currently a member of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE).

One of his achievements as Minister for Canal Affairs (1999-2003) was promoting the expansion of the Canal, a project that is currently underway and he received public recognition by the International Maritime Organization, for his good work as the head of this entity.

In his political life, towards 2004 he decided to run for President of the Republic, endorsed by “Cambio Democrático”, the political party he founded. Its philosophy is to brake with the paradigm of traditional politics. He lost the elections in 2004, but tried again and succeeded in 2009.

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