Panamanian politician and military officer, Manuel Noriega, was the de facto ruler of Panama from 1983 to 1989. As an army man, he overthrew President Arnulfo Arias in a coup in 1968 and became the de facto ruler of Panama a few years later. He was a controversial leader and his rule has been described as a dictatorship.
Panamanian novelist and lawyer Ramón Fonseca Mora served as minister-counselor of Juan Carlos Varela, and as president of Panameñista Party till he was fired in 2016, because of Operation Car Wash. The Panama Papers resulted from hack of computer-systems of the Mossack Fonseca law firm that he co-founded with Jürgen Mossack. Both of them were arrested, jailed and later released.
Panamanian businessman and former politician Juan Carlos Varela held-office as Minister of Foreign Relations and Vice President of Panama before serving as 37th President of Panama (2014-19). He also served as President of Panameñista Party. He was charged for money-laundering in the Odebrecht case, and is one of the former heads of state whose name is mentioned in Pandora Papers.
Guillermo Endara was the president of Panama from 1989 to 1994. A lawyer by qualification, he has served as a member of Panama's National Assembly in the past. As the president, he abolished the Panamanian military, replacing it with a national police force. While his tenure saw steady economic growth, it was also marred by internal fighting.
Ricardo Martinelli is a Panamanian businessman and politician.From 2009 to 2014, he served as the president of Panama and his presidency witnessed steady economic growth in the country. Martinelli came up with several measures to decrease poverty. He increased the minimum wage and introduced measures to tackle unemployment.
Mireya Moscoso is a Panamanian politician who became the first female president of Panama in 1999. Previously married to three-time president Arnulfo Arias, she assumed control of his political party, the Arnulfista Party (PA), after his death. Her tenure as the president was marred by corruption scandals, and she was succeeded by Martín Torrijos in 2004.
Politician and diplomat Isabel de Saint Malo is the first woman in Panamanian history who served as Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama. She held office under President Juan Carlos Varela from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2019. She advocates for several social-issues including eradicating poverty and social inequality and drove policies centred on such issues.
Former Panamanian president Martín Torrijos was born out of an illegitimate relationship of military ruler Omar Torrijos and was disowned by his father till his teenage years. While studying in the U.S., he had also worked at McDonald's. His reforms include major changes in his country’s pensions and social security.
Three-time president of Panama, Arnulfo Arias was a member of the nationalist Panameñista Party and also a doctor. The younger brother of another Panamanian president, Harmodio Arias, Arnulfo became dictatorial during his 2nd presidential term, dissolved the National Assembly, and changed the constitution. He was deposed thrice.
Former First Lady of Panama and the wife of former Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela, Lorena Castillo has also had a 17-year stint as a journalist. She has also been a presenter and co-producer at Telemetro Reporta and has worked for UNAIDS and been associated with other humanitarian and social initiatives.
Better known as DJ Black and DJ Negro, Panamanian rapper, music producer, and songwriter Ricardo Alexander O’Neil Weeks soared to fame with his chartbusting and controversial track Chucha Su Madre. He also released other hits such as Vengo Caliente and Sinforoso. He was later made Panama’s minister of culture by President Ricardo Martinelli.
A lawyer and a former professor of human rights and criminal law at USMA, Zulay Rodríguez has also taught at the University of Panama and the ULACIT. She later stepped into politics with the Democratic Revolutionary Party and now serves as a deputy and the vice president of the National Assembly of Panama.
Former acting president of Panama, Manuel Solís Palma had also been his country’s education minister under a number of administrations. The Democratic Revolutionary Party member served as the president during military dictator Manuel Noriega’s reign but was later pardoned of any crimes committed during that period.
Panamanian politician and Democratic Revolutionary Party member Balbina Herrera started her political career as the mayor of San Miguelito and later also served as the president of the National Assembly. A 2009 presidential candidate, she lost her race for presidency to center-right candidate Ricardo Martinelli.
Apart from being a criminal lawyer, Panamanian politician Rómulo Escobar Bethancourt was also a prominent member of the Communist Party of Panama and later co-founded the Democratic Revolutionary Party. He was one of the major figures behind the Torrijos–Carter Treaties which ratified Panama’s control over the Panama Canal.
Panamanian lawyer and politician Ana Matilde Gómez has had a long career as a public and corporate lawyer. He has also taught at the Latin University of Panama. She has not only served as the attorney general of Panama but has also been a National Assembly member. She was a presidential candidate in 2019.