José Rafael Espada, es un cirujano cardiovascular y político guatemalteco, fue vicepresidente de la República de Guatemala durante el período 14 de enero del 2008 a 14 de enero del 2012.
En el 2007 se involucró en la campaña electoral de Guatemala, como compañero de fórmula del Ingeniero Álvaro Colom Caballeros, con quien formó el binomio Presidencial para las elecciones generales a Presidente y Vicepresidente de la República, consiguiendo la victoria el 4 de noviembre del mismo año. El Dr. Espada tomó posesión como Vicepresidente de la República de Guatemala el 14 de enero del 2008.
El 20 de enero de 2012 poco después de que Rafel Espada entregara su cargo como vicepresidente de Guatemala, fue juramento como diputado del Parlacen junto a su colega presidente Álvaro Colom por el presidente del pleno Manolo Pichardo, de acuerdo con el Parlacen los exgobernates automáticamente pueden asumir el cargo, Espada dijo que asumiría el cargo junto a Colom porque se sienten comprometidos con la integración centroamericana.
Dr. José Rafael Espada (born January 14, 1944 in Guatemala City) is a former Vice President of Guatemala and a former cardiothoracic surgeon.
Espada is well known in the Houston cardiothoracic surgery community. He grew up in Guatemala. From an early age he wanted to grow up to be a doctor. Espada received his doctorate degree at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC) in Guatemala and performed his surgery internship residency training in general and thoracic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.
He also received subspecialty training from LeClub Mitrale, France; and other highly recognized international institutions. He was a resident of the 3000 Block of Quenby Street in West University Place, Texas, United States, a city surrounded by Houston.
He was employed at the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center in Houston, Texas, and a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine. Espada was known to travel from Houston to Guatemala on a monthly basis, to treat underprivileged patients requiring special cardiothoracic procedures. As a cardiac surgeon, he was best known for performing Pulmonary Thromboembolectomies (PFE). He is also believed to have been one of the first to successfully perform a cardiac autotransplant (and to this day has performed more successful autotransplants).
He has raised money for a charity hospital in Guatemala, and currently are building a state-of-the-art facility specifically designed for cardiothoracic surgery.
He performed an average of 10 charity surgeries out of the US every month. He was also board-certified in General Surgery. While at Houston, performed nearly 1000 cardiothoracic procedures a year and around 400 in Guatemala. Espada has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout the course of his medical career including: Honorary Doctorate from the University of Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala, Honorary Professor from Universidad La Salle in Mexico City, Governors award from The Chest Foundation, Paul Harris Award from the International Rotary Society, among many others.
Since 1981 he has been related with the Brazilian Vascular Society and received in Houston, Texas many Brazilian doctors, that learned with him the best techniques on cardiovascular surgery. He was the main guest speaker for the Vascular Meeting of the Brazilian Society in Rio de Janeiro, in June 1998. In 1992 Espada was honored with an honorary doctorate degree in science by Universidad Francisco Marroquín.
He recently stepped down from his position at Houston's Methodist Hospital/DeBakey Heart Institute and returned to his native Guatemala. There, he successfully ran for Vice President of Guatemala. On 14 January 2008, he took office alongside the President, Álvaro Colom.