SANTIAGO, Chile – Chile’s Superintendency of Sanitary Services has ordered two of the country’s main water suppliers – Santiago-based Aguas Andinas and Valparaíso-based Esval – to take steps to prevent water shortages after four million people were left without water on Jan. 22 and from Feb. 9-11. (Gustavo Ortiz for Infosurhoy.com)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Education system rated poorly: The quality of education in Mexico was rated 6.5 out of 10 by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute (IMCO). Director Roberto Newell of the institute explained that additional funding would not solve the problem and recommended improving teacher training and updating the Mexican school system's "obsolete" educational approach. Newell also faulted local authorities for spending too much money without obtaining the corresponding results.
[SDP Noticias, El Universal]
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – IMF observes recovery in economic activity: Costa Rica's economy is showing clear signs of recovery revealed Andreas Bauer, head of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) local mission. The mission was conducting a review of the IMF’s US$735 million stand-by agreement, which was approved in April to bolster macroeconomic stability. The IMF expected GDP to grow by more than two percent in 2010, following a 1.5 percent contraction in 2009.
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Police seize huge drugs haul: Guatemalan drug enforcement agents seized 475,000 tablets of pseudoephedrine at a warehouse near La Aurora international airport. The drug, a key ingredient for producing synthetic drugs such as crystal methamphetamine, had a potential street value of US$14 million. The latest haul came one week after authorities intercepted 500,000 tablets of the same substance at La Aurora. Guatemalan police also seized 327 kilos of marijuana during a separate operation in the northern state of Petén.
[La Prensa, EFE]
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – EU invited to ensure fair elections: At the request of former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Alemán, the European Union (EU) has announced it is prepared to cooperate with the Supreme Electoral Court (CSE) toward improving the country's ballot process. Alemán, the honorary president of the opposition Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC), called for help in updating the electoral roll and registering and identifying voters. He also requested independent observers to oversee the next elections, scheduled for November 2011, when more than 2.8 million Nicaraguans will choose the president and congress.
[El Nuevo Diario, La Voz de Houston]