TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduran Defense Minister Marlon Pascua shows the weapons authorities seized from 13 alleged narco-traffickers who were arrested by the Navy aboard a vessel in the Caribbean Sea last week. Naval officials also confiscated US$658,000 during the bust. (Honduran Ministry of Defense/AFP)
Faced with a global economic crisis and an election on the horizon, many of President Cristina Fernandez’s supporters are jumping ship. The government still has a majority in the Senate, but the desertions are putting its future in doubt.
A growing threat from Mexican and Colombian drug cartels has put Guatemala at the centre of a regional emergency. A united international front is needed to fight it, says the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.
Following Wall Street’s downturn on 25 February, many Mexican companies have registered significant falls in their stock, proving the effects of the economic crisis are being felt world-wide.
In a letter addressed to Panama’s public prosecutor Ana Matilde Gómez, Transparency International Chairwoman Huguette Labelle warned that Panama’s freedom of expression and right to information may be endangered.
Despite significant reductions in world oil prices, Venezuelan economy and finance minister, Alí Rodríguez Araque, assured that Venezuela is able to sustain its economy “without major sacrifices” until 2012.
The final verdict for former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori will be announced at the end of March, following 14 months of trial by the Supreme Court of Peru. Fujimori faces a 30-year sentence, accused of homicide, kidnapping and grievous bodily harm.
Mar. 02 News Brief South America/Caribbean
Spanish-Argentinian oil giant Repsol has agreed to pay Ecuador a tax debt owed to it in the amount of US$447 million over five years, thereby ending a three-month old dispute.
The Bolivian economy will face huge challenges during 2009, due to the world economic crisis, and especially as a result of decreased remittances and lowered prices of oil. President Evo Morales announced he will relieve the effects of this with internati
Cartagena, Colombia's 49th Annual International Film Festival kicked off with 16 movies from 11 competing countries, and with the presence of a special guest; acclaimed Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro.
The United States recession has caused a crisis in Guatemala's once-thriving textile industry, with 18,000 jobs lost and one of Latin America’s largest maquiladoras closed.
Concerned at soaring drug-related violence and drug trafficking in Mexico, the US government is looking at ways of increasing economic aid
Paraguay initiated measures to protect its national industry as a means of warding off the effects of the world economic crisis. These include increasing import taxes on imported products and lowering those on national ones.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced that she will attempt to shield Argentina from the global economic crisis by pressing for changes to the financial system and the abolition of tax havens at the April G20 Summit.
Mar. 03 News Brief Central America/Caribbean
Mar. 03 News Brief South America
Mexican-American singer Lila Downs is campaigning for funds to let indigenous women in Oaxaca finish school.
In the run up to El Salvador’s presidential elections on 15 March, the candidates are keeping up a gruelling campaign schedule as they crisscross the country trying to win over undecided voters.
The European Union is urging the Central American nations negotiating an Association Agreement to reach consensus, after some of their business leaders have expressed doubts and asked for the talks to be put on hold.
Evo Morales’ government wants to bring opposition governors together to negotiate the terms of the autonomous regime as dictated by his recently approved Constitution, warning them that this negotiation will be carried out despite their stance.
A religion professor from Concepción, Chile won a contest by renewing the Norton AntiVirus software license on his computer, awarding a trip to a NASA centre in Pennsylvania where he won a second prize to fly into space.
Mar. 04 News Brief Central America and the Caribbean
Mar. 04 News Brief South America
The São Paulo Stock Exchange, like most in the region, fell sharply on news of huge losses by insurance giant AIG and closed 5.1 percent down. On the same day, the Brazilian real rose slightly against the dollar.
In The Hague, public summary proceedings began at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica over navigation rights along the San Juan River. Costa Rica plans to ask Nicaragua for compensation, while the latte
El Salvador’s economy minister, Ricardo Esmahan, announced that fuel prices will be cut in March. Francisco Peña, the head of the Economy Ministry’s Hydrocarbons and Mines Office (MINEC), claimed that the price cuts would benefit the country by makin
As Uruguay's presidential elections approach, candidates entered a heated debate over the effects of the international economic crisis on the country. While the opposition blames the current government of “reacting late”, the governing parties accuse
Mar. 05 News Brief Central America/Caribbean
Mar. 05 News Brief South America
Chivas were rated Mexico’s best football club according the International Federation of Football History and Statistics ranking.
Venezuela’s bid to join Mercosur is being held up in the Paraguayan Congress. Although Venezuela’s admission was ratified by the Argentinian and Uruguayan legislatures last year, it is still being debated in Brazil and Paraguay. Meanwhile, Venezuela i
Environment Ministry bans all activities which harms wildlife to prevent further damage.
On 3 March Panama applied to join Petrocaribe. After Venezuela approved the application in principle, the two countries signed a joint statement. According to Ramon Leets, Nicaragua’s ambassador in Venezuela, sooner or later all Central American countri
Financial authorities acknowledged that Guatemala has serious illegal money laundering problem, and measures to combat the scourge will be adopted. These will include a financial monitoring system for civil servants.
In a planned political manoeuvre, opposition parties PTB and PMDB formed an alliance causing the ruling Workers' Party to lose another Senate commission to former president Fernando Collor de Mello. This leaves President Lula da Silva's party with only on
Mar. 06 News Brief Central America/Caribbean
March 6 News Brief South America
The price of soy, a key crop in Argentina, is falling with prices of US$210 per tonne on 5 March, compared to US$330 one year ago. Despite the variation, the government still imposes an export duty of 35 percent of the sale price.
The International Monetary Fund predicted that the country's economy would shrink by 2.6 percent in 2009, and that Honduras was one of 20 countries in the world most vulnerable to the financial crisis, with disastrous consequences if external conditions w
Peru celebrated Women's Day with campaigns to spotlight women's role in society and ensure that they are treated equally. A Lima University survey shows a rise in the number of people believing that women are discriminated against.
‘Sacred Channel’ is Mexican guitarist Carlos Santana’s new dream for countering violence throughout the world with a message of love and peace. The musician announced his forthcoming Mexican tour.
A group of nine UN Security Council ambassadors will visit Haiti to promote its sustainable economic development.
9 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
Mexico's Stock Exchange followed the world trend and slipped sharply on 6 March, closing the week with a negative balance. Cement maker, CEMEX, was one of the hardest hit by the losses.
Costa Rica’s under-20 football team beat Mexico 1-0 in their opening World Cup qualifying game in Trinidad. Josue Martinez scored the only goal of the match after 37 minutes. Costa Rica is now three points nearer to qualifying for this year’s World Cu
With exports down 33 percent year on year in January, Bolivia has begun to feel the impact of the international economic crisis. There are fears about the effect on the balance of trade.
In what will be an election-packed year in Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government got off to a bad start in the legislative elections in Catamarca province. The ruling party and its allies lost by more than 12 percentage points
A flash flood destroyed a hillside in Puno, burying an informal mining camp and exposing the reality that 600,000 people depend directly or indirectly on small-scale mineral extraction.
10 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
Taiwan’s foreign minister Francisco Ou visited the Dominican Republic to strengthen the ties of cooperation between the two countries. Medical teams also came to work in Dominican communities.
A Ministry of Social Development report warns that gender inequality still exists in Panama. The Ombudsman’s Office announced that it was concerned about increased violence against women and called on the government to take action.
Just a few hours before a US deadline to reach an agreement over local election results and unblock Millennium Challenge Corporation funds, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega continued to defy sanctions. In strong contrast to Ortega's attitude, Foreign Mi
Representative Jovino Novoa was elected President of the Upper House of the Chilean Senate, causing a stir among opposition because of his ties to former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
January 2009 saw a spectacular decrease in sales of Brazilian products with a fall of 13.4 percent compared to January 2008. Unemployment rose for the third consecutive month, increasing by 2.4 percent since November 2008.
11 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
11 March News Brief South America
March 9 News Brief South America
The Yale University Concert Band, with its 60 brass, woodwind, keyboard and percussion players, entertained Mexican audiences for the first time with a concert at Mexico's National Autonomous University.
Runaway inflation in Venezuela has pushed Caracas up to 21st place in the rankings of the world’s most expensive cities published every six months by The Economist. Not even Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, which share 23rd place, are as expensive.
Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez met his Brazilian counterpart, President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, in Brasilia to strengthen commercial ties between both countries in view of the world economic crisis. The leaders also spoke of difficulties i
Thanks to the Human Rights Ombudsman, two people have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the disappearance of trade union leader Fernando Garcia in February 1984. It has been described as a great step forward in the fight against impunity in
As private oil companies wait for September, when their contracts with the government will come up for renegotiation, their production is expected to fall more sharply than that of state-owned Petroecuador. The government says it will not halt its planned
12 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
12 March News Brief South America
Spurred on by mounting violence in Mexico over the last three years, the US Government is offering cooperation and more aid to combat insurgency.
Honduran economy experts recommended that President José Manuel Zelaya consider renewing an economic agreement with the IMF, but under new terms, since Honduras' economic situation has changed dramatically since 2008.
Costa Rican scientist Axel Retana has discovered three species of thrips, tiny insects suspected of damaging 30 percent of his country’s crops in 2008.
The Colombian government project calling for indefinite re-election of mayors and governors was not supported by the majority in Congress. Conflicting ideas have arisen between government supporters and those of the opposition, who claim this is the first
President Luis Inácio Lula Da Silva lashed out against Argentina's protectionist measures, which affect free trade among MERCOSUR's member countries. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner visited her counterpart in Brazil to discuss these.
13 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
13 March News Brief South America
The ISA virus and an algae bloom are seriously threatening Chile's salmon industry. Salmon fishing is vital for the economy in Chile, the world's second-largest producer, with exports topping 400,000 tonnes to the US, Japan and Latin America in 2008.
Prince Charles visited Brazil during his tour of South America to propose protecting the Brazilian Amazon through his non-profit organisation. The heir to the British throne stressed the need to adopt his plan for selling bonds to finance environmental pr
Caricom leaders met in Belize to discuss the effects of the crisis and ways of mitigating them. They agreed to expand and speed up the integration process, especially in the economic area.
Mar. 16 News Brief Central America/Caribbean
Mar. 16 News Brief South America
In front of elections for 12 Senate seats, Haiti’s election council has barred candidates from the party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
After its half-yearly meeting in Paraguay, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) announced that it was concerned at the number of journalists murdered and victimised by violence, the deterioration of the relationship between government and press in
While some experts were recommending help for small and micro businesses to overcome the crisis, the first steps taken by bosses have been to cut staff and freeze salaries, reducing Mexicans' buying power. Other economic pundits believe a devaluation of t
Leftwing presidential candidate for the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), Mauricio Funes, was declared the winner of the 15 March elections with 51.3 percent of votes. Funes called for confrontation and revenge to be set aside and invited
The new Chile-Peru Free Trade Agreement has barely survived its first two weeks in operation. On one hand, Peru's Constitutional Court has been considering if the FTA is unconstitutional, and on the other hand, both Chile and Peru are waiting for a verdic
Brazil’s President Lula da Silva met President Obama in Washington on 14 March. Among the issues discussed were renewable energy, bilateral relations, and the global financial crisis.
17 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
17 March News Brief South America
US top brass seemed unconcerned at the announcement from Russian air force Chief of Staff, General Anatoly Zhikharev, that Cuban and Venezuelan airbases might be used by Russian bombers.
Plan Colombia, a program to fight terrorism and drug trafficking between the US and Colombia, will be upheld in 2009, confirmed Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. Uribe explained that Colombia needed both US and international help to fight this scourge.
A shooting incident occurred on 15 March between two rival factions disputing the control of Boca Juniors supporters’ groups. One person was injured and further clashes are likely. One of the men involved even accused the police and club security of con
Following media reports of excessive spending on travel, the Guatemalan Comptroller General’s Office has told the Central American Parliament that it will audit its 2008 budget performance.
The Costa Rican Development Initiatives Coalition (Cinde) announced that, in spite of the global crisis, more than 20 service companies are expected to invest in 2009. It urged the government to amend the law on incentives for duty-free zones and to impro
18 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
18 March News Brief South America
Experts meet in Panama for a conference on the effects of climate change on public health.
The Inter-American Press Association announced that it hopes to visit Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega for a discussion on reported restrictions to press freedom in the country. The initiative was praised by media figures as a second chance for Orteg
The Argentinian government held a fourth meeting with farmers in an attempt to negotiate an end to the bitter dispute over taxes on agricultural exports. The dispute, which has been going on since last year, is inflicting serious damage on the government,
Bolivian farmers’ union leader, Alejo Véliz, presented his candidacy in December's elections as did fellow Quecha Indian René Joaquina and Víctor Hugo Cárdenas, a native Aymara. All three intend to challenge the current president, Evo Morales.
Mar. 19 News Brief Central America/Caribbean
Mar. 19 News Brief South America
Mexican soldiers arrived in Ciudad Juarez as part of Joint Operation Chihuahua to combat drug trafficking and organised crime. Military commanders were placed under the direct orders of city Mayor José Reyes Ferriz.
All customs offices in Honduras were paralysed on 17 March by staff from the Executive Revenue Directorate (DEI). The strike caused daily losses of approximately US$1.5 million. Employees protested against the Honduran automatic customs revenue system, or
Claiming that President Chavez’s decentralisation law is ‘illegal’, opposition leaders accused him of attempting a ‘non-classic coup’. The new law gives the head of state power over all of country’s roads, seaports, and airports.
Following recent outbreaks of fan hooliganism, the Justice Ministry announced an agreement with the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) and the clubs to keep hooligans out of the grounds.
Bolivian president Evo Morales will travel to Madrid in early May to sign the cancellation of the bilateral debt with Spain and will return home with US$80 million in aid.
20 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
Mar. 20 News Brief South America
Panama’s government reopened the 2015 Bond to cover the finance requirements of the 2009 Budget and achieved high demand, “two times greater” than the target price. The reissue was aimed at U.S. and European investors in order to retain liquidity in
After a gap of nearly 40 years, Mexican guitarist Carlos Santana returned to Guatemala City with a brilliant concert. Fans were entertained by his interpretations of new material and classic numbers from his repertoire. The concert drew a crowd of almost
Salvadorian president-elect, Mauricio Funes, put the international community at ease upon confirming that his government will fulfil and respect debts taken on by the country. Funes also received support from the U.S., putting an end to doubts over whethe
Mexico was the triumphant special guest at the Paris Book Fair, attracting thousands of visitors to its stand. Attendance was up by 20 percent compared to last year. For six days, some 40 Mexican authors took part in forums, interviews and round tables.
After the Chilean government criticised the outbreak of nationalist demonstrations in Peru, the long-simmering dispute between the countries over their maritime border flared up again.
Colombia’s economy grew by 3.2 percent in 2008 – below the government’s forecast of 3.5 percent. Though the final figures will not be announced until the end of March, the financial crisis is already being felt in the country, with falls in industri
Mar. 23 News Briefs Central American/Caribbean
Mar. 23 News Briefs South America
Honduras has begun to debate ways of protecting its economy from the second wave of the global financial crisis. Proposals include a savings programme linked to remittances, a National Dialogue Commission to come up with new economic strategies, and acces
On 3 February this year, the Paraguayan government presented its economic revitalisation plan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF suggests that it be implemented straight away to bolster Paraguay’s economy and protect it from the effects o
UNICEF donated equipment to eight centres in Nicaragua run by the Association of Parents of Children with Special Needs Los Pipitos, to enable disabled children to increase their possibilities of integration in schools through a program of early stimu
Mexican President Felipe Calderón announced the arrest of a drug trafficker responsible for attacks in October on the US consulate and TV station Televisa in Monterrey. Acts of retaliation are expected in Nuevo León, the territory controlled by Sigfredo
24 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
Mar. 24 News Brief South America
The Black Theatre of Prague's “All Colours Theatre” company performed to Costa Rican audiences as part of its 2009 Latin American tour, which finishes on 30 March. San José's “Melico Salazar” Popular Theatre lit up with a dark but humorous portra
Despite the economic threat posed by the import and sale of second-clothing to the local textile industry and traditional trade in Bolivia, the government indefinitely extended permits to introduce second-hand goods into the country. The retail clothes se
Ecuador’s government is planning to announce its debt restructuring plan at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) meeting to be held in Colombia from 27 to 31 March. The plan involves foreign bonds that the government – alleging that they were “
A kidnapped woman has been rescued by the Cali police anti-kidnapping squad. When freed, Cynthia Zuluaga Hurtado – born in New York but now living in Colombia – was being guarded by a young girl in a rundown house in Cali. Her captors were planning to
Honduran police seized 450 kilos of cocaine in Choluteca. Over a dozen arrests were made and almost five tonnes of drugs have been recovered so far in 2009 in a various joint operations.
The Dominican Republic persuaded Haiti and Cuba to support its proposal for the urgent implementation of public policies to protect the region’s ecosystems and biodiversity.
25 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
25 March News Brief South America
After a year’s delay, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ has finally arrived in Buenos Aires. This production of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical is up to the standard of those seen in London or New York. There are eight performances a week.
Mexico’s justice ministry is offering rewards of up to US$2 million and a guarantee of anonymity for information leading to the arrest of drug lords.
A claim by Peru to modify land and sea borders with Chile was raised on the anniversary in Bolivia of the loss of its Pacific territories in a war between the three countries between 1879 and 1883.
After a warning that the FARC were planning a ‘Black March’ to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of their founder, Manuel Marulanda, two clashes between the Colombian army and guerrillas in the north and southeast of the country left nine
26 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
26 March News Brief South America
On her first official visit to Mexico, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to increase border security after increased violence from Mexican drug cartels. The Mexican government requested U.S. cooperation in stemming arms smuggling from north
U.S. cooperation with Central America and the global economic crisis will be the items on the agenda when the U.S. vice president, Joseph Biden, meets some of the region’s leaders during an official visit to Costa Rica on 30 March.
The São Paulo Stock Exchange rallied on 25 March on the back of better prospects for the Brazilian economy and good news from the NYSE and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The seizure of a tonne of ephedrine headed for Mexico, where drug cartels use it to produce designer drugs, has alarmed the Chilean government. The interior minister, Patricio Rosende, called on Chile’s major medical laboratories to exercise greater con
In the third fixture of the 2009 Copa Santander Libertadores, Aurora was defeated 2-1 by Gremio in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. After losing three games, the Bolivian team is last in its group while Brazil's Gremio leads the table, followed by Colombi
27 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
27 March News Brief South America
Just a little over ten years ago, Medellín was best known as a haven for drug lords. It has another, more attractive side, though – one that can now be seen, as authorities and the public work together to bring about change and progress. With aid from
Starting in April, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua – the CA-4 nations – will allow free movement to visa-holders from the USA, Canada, and the Schengen countries.
As part of a fiscal stimulus plan to stave off the effects of the international crisis, Chile's president, Michelle Bachelet, has signed a law to subsidise businesses that hire underprivileged young people.
Armed robberies on Guatemalan buses have cost 54 lives so far this year. The most recent victim was a two-month-old baby. President Colom received the support from other countries in the region after he denounced a plan to destabilise the region.
A document attributed to the late FARC guerrilla chief, Manual Marulanda Tirofijo (Sureshot) written in the days before his death on 26 March, 2008, depicts a lack of connection between him and the actions of his second-in-command, “Raul Reyes”, in Ec
30 March News Brief Central America/Caribbean
30 March News Brief South America
Spanish hip-hop artist, La Mala Rodríguez, presented her show “Ojo con La Mala” in Costa Rica as part of a Latin American tour. The performer was pleased to discover the continent and its culture.
Paraguay held on to top place in the South American qualifying group for the South Africa 2010 World Cup although they lost 2-0 to Uruguay, with goals from Forlan and Lugano. In his first competitive game as Argentina’s manager, Diego Maradona saw his t
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Governor's meeting discussed increasing the multilateral organisation's capital by an additional US$180 billion. The aim of this contribution is to tackle the international economic crisis by issuing loans to Lati
Financial troubles in Central American countries caused by a decline in exports and dwindling remittances have prompted governments to seek new sources of funding from international credit institutions.
U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to Chile for the sixth Progressive Leaders Summit was an opportunity to share a vision of a new relationship between the United States and Latin America based on dialogue and the search for common strategies to meet
For the first time, Mexico City switched off the lights on many of its historic landmarks as it joined Latin America and the world in “Earth Hour”, an international attempt to call attention to global warming and its consequences.
Mar. 31 News Brief Central America/Caribbean
31 March – News Brief South America