Panama Canal Current Affairs - 2020

Laurentino Cortizo elected new President of Panama

Panama’s Electoral Court declared the centre-left candidate Laurentino Cortizo as winner of Panama’s presidential election. Cortizo is candidate for Panama’s Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), which won 33% of 95% of votes counted. The PRD was founded in 1979  by military ruler Omar Torrijos and has been out of power since 2009.

About Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo

  • He is a 66-year-old cattleman who was educated in US. He has earlier served as country’s minister of agriculture and also held roles at regional Organisation of American States, and worked in construction and livestock sectors.
  • His presidential campaign focused on combating inequality and corruption, rising unemployment, Panama’s education system, state of water utilities and rubbish collection in capital, Panama City and slowing economic growth in this Central America trade and financial hub.

About Panama

  • It is a Central America country located on Isthmus of Panama (narrow bridge of land connecting North and South America).
  • It is a tropical nation renowned as site of Panama Canal (which cuts through its midsection and connects Atlantic and Pacific Oceans).
  • It lies between Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.
  • Its national currency is ‘the balboa’. It is issued only in coins. The balboa is at par with U.S. dollar, and U.S. paper currency is freely circulated.

Panama forges Diplomatic ties with China and breaks away with Taiwan

Panama has established formal diplomatic ties with China and broke all of its relationship with Taiwan in a move that is seen as a victory for China in its drive to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the world. China claims Taiwan as its own territory.

Panama’s Stand

Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela has announced that his country has upgraded its commercial ties with China and has established full diplomatic links with China. China is the second most important customer of the Panama Canal and the leading provider of merchandise to a free-commerce zone situated in the city of Colon in Panama.

In addition, Panama has stated that it is breaking off its formal relations with Taiwan. Panama has said that henceforth it recognizes ‘One China’ in the world and consider Taiwan to be an inalienable part of China’s territory. Hence, it has said that it will not maintain any more official relationship or official exchanges with Taiwan.

China has welcomed the decision taken by Panama. China in the recent years has been showering a lot of favours throughout Central America to woo them to break ties with Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Response

Taiwan has said that it will immediately cut ties and cease all bilateral cooperation projects with Panama. It has also said that it will recall all of its diplomatic staff and technical advisers out of Panama. Panama is one of Taiwan’s oldest friends. Panama was one of the largest economies to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Panama is one of Taiwan’s oldest friends. Panama was one of the largest economies to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.


Taiwan now has just 20 formal diplomatic partners after Panama has switched its ties. Of them, 12 partners belong to Latin America and the Caribbean.

China and Taiwan are being ruled by separate governments since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. China’s constitution claims Taiwan to be a part of its own territory. While both the sides maintained an undeclared diplomatic truce in recent times, the relationship got deteriorated after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office last year.

At china’s insistence, Taiwan has been excluded from the United Nations and many other multinational bodies like the World Health Organization and other international gatherings.