17 de Sep de 2021


Gilberto Guardia Fabrega: first Panama Canal Administrator

Stories from the United States' relationship with the Panama Canal, in celebration of its centenary

In 1990, as part of the transition process from American to Panamanian control of the Canal, the first Panamanian administrator was assigned.  Mr. Gilberto Guardia Fabrega had the historical honor of being the first Interoceanic Canal administrator from Panama.

This assignment marked an historical moment in the Canal transition since it not only showed clear U.S. intention to transfer the Canal, but also gave Panamanians a chance to develop independent technical and administrative capacity.  Mr. Guardia was assigned to replace Mr. Dennis McAuliffe, and became the 19th Canal administrator. During Mr. Guardia’s administration, the “Panama Canal Universal Audit System” was implemented, which established a universal formula to measure  ships’ tonnage.

He also ensured upgrades to the infrastructure; various parts of the route were considerably widened, including Corte Culebra.  Mr. Guardia served from 1990 to 1996 and was replaced by the engineer Alberto Aleman Zubieta.