Max Del Valle Levy-Maduro: The Short-Lived Jewish President of Panama

Max Del Valle Levy-Maduro: The Short-Lived Jewish President of Panama -

Max Del Valle Levy-Maduro (February 27, 1911 - December 20, 1979) served as the President of Panama for just seven days in February 1967 (from February 8 to February 15). He was the first Jewish president of Panama and had previously held the position of Vice President. His brother, Eric Del Valle, also served as a Jewish President of Panama.

Early Life

Born in 1911 into a Jewish family in Panama City, the capital of Panama, Max Del Valle Levy-Maduro was a devout Jew who regularly attended the synagogue "Kol Shearith Israel." Along with his brother Eric Del Valle and another Jewish individual named Chuzo Domínguez B., Max Del Valle founded the Panamanian Republican Party (Partido Republicano, PR) in 1960. This party was supported by Panama's small Jewish business community and was essentially the successor to the right-wing Liberal Renewal Party (Partido Liberal Renovador, PLR), which had existed since 1932.

Political Career

In 1964, Del Valle was elected Vice President of Panama under President Marco Aurelio Robles, despite not belonging to the same party. The elections were fully democratic, marking the last truly democratic elections in Panama for around two decades.

However, the 1968 elections were marred by allegations of fraud and manipulation. The military intervened in the election results for the first time, removing the elected president. From that point onwards, the military effectively controlled the country until the U.S. invasion in December 1989 and the removal of Manuel Noriega.

Presidency of Panama

In 1967, during the third year of Robles and Del Valle's joint presidency, parliament ousted President Robles and appointed Del Valle as the Deputy President of Panama. This appointment was particularly brief due to opposition from the military, which had become the dominant power in Panama.

General Bolívar Vallarino, the head of the National Guard, pressured the parliament to reinstate Robles after just seven days, and Del Valle returned to his role as vice president for the remainder of Robles' term.

During his inauguration speech as President of Panama, Del Valle famously remarked, "Today, there are two Jewish presidents in the world: a President of the State of Israel and myself." When the British ambassador to Panama, who overheard his comment, reminded Del Valle that Britain had Benjamin Disraeli as a former Prime Minister, Del Valle humorously responded, "But Disraeli was a Prime Minister, and I am a President."

Max Del Valle Levy-Maduro passed away in 1979 in Panama City. His brother, Eric Del Valle, was elected as the country's second Jewish president in the mid-20th century.

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