Globe, Latin America, Multiculture, Our People

Ana Irene Delgado: “We are one in a million”

The Panamanian community in London is so small that its office is situated amongst small businesses. It’s because of this that the Ambassador of Panama in London has spoken out.

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Olga Briasco

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The  community of this small isthmus which resides in the London capital has a very specific profile: young people who want to finish or improve their education, and lawyers specialised in marine affairs.

This student background ensures that the Consulate’s activities are focused on facilitating the extension of student visas, so that they can finish their studies in the United Kingdom.

Ana Irene Delgado
Ana Irene Delgado

With only two hundred people, Panama combines the skills of the Consulate and the Embassy in the figure of Ana Irene Delgado; who is also the representative of her country in the United Kingdom and in Northern Ireland.

In her opinion, for the ordinary Panamanian, its “difficult to migrate to a country with a different climate and language”, but “she is a person who has mastered the language and gets on well with the British way of life.”

She claims that she does not have problems finding work as “we are one in a million” (the Panamanians), and thus “it is easier to find work.”

Therefore, her skills are focused on strengthening diplomatic, consular and commercial relations with Great Britain, in order to achieve greater rapprochement with the European Community and obtain greater benefits for the country.

And, as she said to the President of Panama, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli on his appointment (November 2011): “What we really need is our diplomatic mission in London and elsewhere in Europe to promote investment in our country.”

Her profile matches the academic training and knowledge of her parents. From her father, she acquired a passion for advocacy and law, and from her mother, a passion for culture and languages.

Furthermore, she is a specialist in law and political science, with a master from the University of New York and a Bachelor’s degree in international relations from Florida State University.

But her name has also covered sports pages. Her skill in fencing has led her to represent Panama at the Central American and Caribbean Games, in the Bolivarian games and in World Cups.

She is thus, a committed woman, she offers legal advice in the Providence Foundation, of which her mother is president.

Ana Irene Delgado spoke with The Prisma.

Is Panama like a country of emigrants?

No. The Panamanian isn’t someone who emigrates, since Panama is a very safe country that has no natural disasters. Moreover, it is difficult to migrate to a country with a different climate and language. For example, in Britain alone there are barely 200 Panamanian people and I am not entirely sure of that number because most of them are students. The rest are lawyers who work in the legal maritime field.

What is the main focus of interest of the Embassy?

More hard work in the merchant marine vessel register because Panama holds the number one record worldwide. 20% of the world’s maritime fleet has our flag on it.

How are relations with Great Britain currently?

Excellent, we have a very close bilateral relationship. Latin America is becoming very important in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom.

Until the beginning of the recession, it did not have economical relation with Latin America.

I totally agree. Before the recession, Latin America was seen as the backyard of the United States; however, it is now an extremely important economy. Leaving aside the traditional markets (Mexico, Chile and Brazil), Peru, Colombia and Panama are very important economies.

Has the Euro crisis affected Panama?

It has helped us because many companies have come to work in Panama and it is becoming the hub of Latin America. In fact, it is a country which produces nothing, as we live off of the financial, banking, maritime and logistic services.

What do businesses think about the expansion of the Panama Canal?

The region’s economy will change, as will the global economy. The Panama Canal today is not large enough allow Post-Panamax ships to pass through it. When the works are finished, they’ll pass through Panama and will not choose other routes.

Panama is in the International Maritime Organization (IMO)…

Correct. We are members of the Council (category A) as we hold 20% of the naval fleet and we contribute most to the IMO. We intend to safeguard the interests of our fleet: the safety of the sailors, the ships and the protection of the environment.

What is the main environmental problem?

Water; taking from one country and depositing it in another causes disruption to the native wildlife. This disruption may affect the ecosystem. However, adapting vessels requires a fairly substantial budget investment and sailors ask us not to rush into this development stage.

How do you see Panama in five years time?

If Panama maintains this pace of growth, we will become a Singapore which, despite our size, will attract numerous multinational companies. Panama, for example, is home to companies such as Palmolive, Hewlett-Packard; the University of Louisville and the new British school, or the new Office of the United Nations. All of this will not only attract workers to the region, but it will also attract academics and experts from all over the world.

But the country’s development depends on education.

You’re absolutely right. That’s why the first British-Panamanian school opened in September, with the objective of equipping the majority of the population with a level of English which will allow them to study at a bilingual university.

(Translated by Emma O’Toole)

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One Comment

  1. It is a pleasure to see someone appointed to an ambassadorial post who correctly senses the cross-cultural and business development aspects of their host country. Add an educational component to the mix, and the result is that Great Britain and Panama both win!!!

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