Today, I am announcing the designation of former Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez as generally ineligible for entry into the United States, due to his involvement in significant corruption.  While serving as Panama’s vice president and then president, Varela accepted bribes in exchange for improperly awarding government contracts.

This designation reaffirms the commitment of the United States to combat endemic corruption in Panama.  The people of Panama place trust in those who represent them.  Corruption unjustly deprives the people of Panama of quality public services such as schools, hospitals, and roads, hurting their economic prospects and their quality of life.  If not addressed, corruption will continue to depress Panama’s prosperity, weaken its democracy, and prevent it from realizing its full potential.

It is our hope that today’s action will prompt Panama’s elected representatives and authorities to tackle entrenched corruption and empower all those who stand up for the rule of law.  Corruption anywhere damages the national security and economic health of the United States and our allies.  We will continue to promote accountability for those involved in significant corruption throughout the world.

This public designation is made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023.  Officials designated under Section 7031(c) and their immediate family members are generally ineligible for entry into the United States.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future