Gilberto Guardia Fabrega


Gilberto Guardia was born in Panama City, Republic of Panama, on February 13, 1930, the son of Tomas Guardia and Licia Fabrega. He married Teresa Garcia de Paredes in 1949. He earned his bachelor's degree civil engineering at the University of Santa Clara, California, in 1950.

From 1950 to 1951, Guardia was an estimator for the Public Works Ministry in Panama City and served as civil engineer in the Panama Canal Company from 1951 to 1952

Guardia was President and Chief Executive Officer of: Empresas Diaz y Guardia S.A.; Architecture Engineering, General Construction Management and Contracting, Light Steel Manufacturing from 1952 to 1990.

In other activities, from 1980 to 1990, Guardia was member of the Board of Directors of the Industrial Development Bank; Fiduciary Bank of Panama; Dadeland Bancshares Incorporated, Miami, Florida. He was also Director of the National Council of Private Enterprise; Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama; Panamanian Association of Business Executives and the Panamanian Chamber of Construction.

Guardia was appointed as Administrator of the Panama Canal Commission on September 20, 1990 and served in that position until August 17, 1996.

Guardia’s tenure as Administrator was marked by several maintenance and Canal improvements programs, focused on the Pacific entrance channel widening where more than 7 million cubic yards of material were removed; the widening and straightening of the narrow eight-mile Gaillard Cut area of the Canal increasing its minimum width from 500 feet to 630 feet; the installation of a new locks fendering system; the construction of a new Atlantic-side signal station; and the installation of a ship-handling simulator for training Canal pilots.

During his administration, tolls were increased for the sixth time in Canal history on October 1, 1992. In 1994, the Canal implemented the Universal Measurement System of the Panama Canal (PC/UMS), which established a formula to calculate the tonnage of ships.

Guardia officially announced his resignation on October 7, 1995, but he continued in charge until the appointment of the new administrator. He was the first Panamanian administrator of the Panama Canal.