Panama's Former Canal Chief Jumps in the Deep End

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PANAMA

He doesn't carry the star appeal of Panamanian tourism minister and international salsa king Ruben Blades. But neither does he have the ominous family name of Panama's newly elected centrist president Martin Torrijos, son of the notorious long-time dictator OmarTorrijos.

Instead, Panama's new minister of economy and finance, Ricaurte Vasquez Moral, brings what any country would want for its top fiscal officer: decades of experience in the private and public sectors, including eight years keeping the financial activities of the Panama Canal running smoothly.

Educated at several top universities in the United States.Vasqucz holds a doctorate in administrative economy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. He was minister of planning and economic policy between 1984 and 1988 and in 1996 became the first Panamanian to direct the Office of Financial Administration of the now-extinct Panama Canal Commission.

In August he left his post as sub-administrator of the Panama Canal Authority to take a job with the newTorrijos administration that assumed power September ! …