Juan Carlos Escotet Rodr├¡guez gives a speech at Panama’s opening ceremony
The first thing I propose to offer to you all, is nothing more than a word whose value does not decline ever: Respect. Let me extend to each of you, your history and culture, and all the feelings and meanings that make up this beautiful land, the word respect by a citizen coming from another country, whose first conviction is unending respect and consideration to the other, that is to say, for every one of you and all those attributes which constitute the Panamanian nation.
I was born, grew, trained and became a businessman in Venezuela, in an environment of opportunities and challenges, as the millions of men and women entrepreneurs who live and work in Latin America know well, it requires the development of a profound and renewed sense of coexistence in diversity.
I come from a country that has a long tradition of hospitality, which has been consistent throughout the twentieth century. In many parts of Europe and Latin America at different times in Venezuelan history, immigrants have come for different reasons and with many hopes, to live with us. Being an open country, always with arms outstretched toward others, we got a knowledge that a lot of us carry deep within ourselves the best of the rest is all what they can teach us, that diversity of cultures and experiences of which both can enrich every day.
We came to Panama for many reasons, but never forgetting that, both the institutional and the strictly individual scope, we are never separated from the premise of learning and becoming better and better, because only in the constant exchange with others is that the human being holds the power to be perfect and transcendent, remembered for his good works.
You may have noticed that I take leave to speak in first person plural. If I can make use of such attribution is because I know Banesco, step by step, even in its smallest details, since it was just an idea until today. This authorizes me to say that in Venezuela we have an organization that, from the beginning, was forged under a strong corporate culture founded on strong values, and everything we have achieved is not simply the result of implementing our convictions.
Banesco was introduced fifteen years ago in Venezuela in 1992. Before opening our doors we had already defined how we would do our route.
We defined a platform for action based on innovation at various levels of financial business in the modern and ever-renewed use of new technologies and the development of a policy of treating the customer beyond the best practices that existed then in the Venezuelan banking.
Our growth was strong from day one. In a country like Venezuela where there are many large banks, Banesco began to move from day one, additionally supported by a solid device of strengthening and caring for its brand. Almost a decade later, I speak of 2001, we merged with two very large and relevant financial institutions of the Venezuelan financial system: on the one hand, Banco Union, which by then accumulated a successful tradition of XX years and that was one of the great emblems of our country’s financial history, and the other with the Caja Familia organization, which was what we call a Savings and Loan Institution and that had a strong presence in various regions of Venezuela.
This process of merging two organizations retested and developed our willingness to adapt to the demands of a reality different from our own, to exercise the will to learn and strengthen friendly exchanges from the other. For almost a year and a half we are part of organization that with the name of UNIBANCA, made itself felt its willingness to occupy a significant place in the Venezuelan banking.
During this significant time for us, we continue to learn and innovate, expanding our technological horizons, but especially, we did a thorough job so that growth does not submit to us losing the ground gained in the field of quality of services.
Thus we come to July 2002, the moment where the stage fulfilled until today starts: Banesco was relaunched with a dimension and significance similar to the one today: a bank that has deployed a network of over 450 agencies throughout the Venezuelan geography, to cover more than four and a half million customers, with the most satisfactory level of quality. Many things could be said tonight about the successes and achievements. It is sufficient to say one of which we are particularly proud: we are the first VISA card issuer bank in Latin America.
A few minutes ago we completed the ribbon cutting ceremony of Banesco Panama, which for us means something very deep. We do not understand it as a new stage in our growth options, but as the inauguration of new experiences and learning, because we know that Panama is also a market for excellence and highly competitive in our business, it has an invaluable cultural history in what respects to customer service, which in recent decades has risen as an international benchmark that enjoys the highest esteem, and a model that is followed with particular attention in most countries of Latin America.
The excitement that overwhelms us comes from the huge expectations we have for this country that is arguably fighter, to each of its citizens, and to the potential of our business activity. There is so much we can learn and share, that it is inconceivable what symbolically begins today, just as a new stretch of the same route, but far beyond, as the emergence, the foundation of a new Banesco again willing to learn and share, again ready to take hold with their values and best roots in this friendly and promising land.
I do not speak solely in my name; my voice carries the emotion of the thousands of people who from Venezuela, support this initiative we have taken. We are sincerely grateful for the opportunity that Panama, its open and enthusiastic culture, its financial and legal systems and, especially, every one of you, have provided us to prove with facts our willingness to do things always the best way possible, always with the premise of respect for others, one of our core values.
In a larger sense, we are just arriving, ready to recognize and know the terrain. But in a more specific sense, Banesco has fifteen years since it started trading offshore in Panama, with Banesco International Bank. Since last February 7, Banesco corporation has legal existence, and already we have begun to take its first steps, our major purpose is to provide the highest service to all individuals, companies and institutions that made the decision to know us and were the first to give us a vote of confidence: from this our responsibility will be to work hard like we always have to conquer your hearts.
I want to finish my speech by saying the following: truth is that we have come from another country, where we love a lot Panama and Panamanians, because too many things unite us. But so is that we have not come to visit, or to stay for a certain time. If your country allows, we will establish ourselves here. As we had dreamed, Banesco is being filled in Panama of Panamanian citizens. Because that’s what we want, come a day when we feel like one of you.
I conclude by sharing one of the most beautiful words, which is present in more than six thousand languages that coexist on the Earth, and in our beautiful Spanish language, is pronounced like this: Gracias (thanks). Thank you very much everyone for joining us tonight, and having listened to the explanation of who we are and what we came for.