Sept. 7 News Brief Central America/Caribbean

Winston F. Burges

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Crisis affects bicentennial celebrations: Effects of the global financial crisis have extended as far as the budget for the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Independence and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, which will take place in 2010. The federal committee in charge of the celebrations has told Mexican President Felipe Calderón that the activities will be subject to financial cutbacks. However, it assured that the economic woes will not lead to the cancellation of the 1,800 planned events that start in January, although 100 have now been removed from the official list.

[Excélsior, El Universal, Notimex]

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Large budget deficit expected in 2010: The Guatemalan Public Finance Ministry is expecting a deficit of approximately US$1.2 billion in its projected General Income and Expenditure Budget for 2010. Despite limited tax income and weak economic recovery, President Álvaro Colom’s government is planning to spend US$5.8 billion in 2010 – US$280 million more than in 2008. The deficit will force the government to take on foreign debt and issue bonds, increasing debt servicing.

[La Hora, El Periódico]

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Government resumes talks with EU: The Nicaraguan government has received the European Commission’s Deputy Director General for External Relations Stefano Sannino in Managua, with the aim of convincing the European Union to release some US$60 million in economic aid. The funds were frozen after the EU deemed the 2008 municipal elections to be fraudulent. The body has since been pressuring President Daniel Ortega to reform the electoral system before the presidential elections in 2011. Sannino must deliver the EU’s verdict before leaving the country during the week beginning Sept. 7.

[La Jornada, El Nuevo Diario, AFP]

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Refinery expansion with Chinese support: An agreement between Costa Rica’s oil refinery Recope and China’s CNPC International Ltd. – a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation – will lead to a US$1 billion investment to expand the oil refinery in the city of Limón. Each party will contribute 50 percent of the investment to increase production from 18,000 to 60,000 barrels per day, equivalent to Costa Rica’s daily fuel consumption. Construction will begin in 2011.

[Nación.com, La Prensa Libre]

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