Sept. 29 News Brief Central America/Caribbean

Winston F. Burges

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Two million poor in Mexican capital: The mayor of Mexico's Federal District, Marcelo Ebrard, revealed that there are more than two million poor people living on the city's streets. Ebrard blamed the situation on the lack of resources stemming from cutbacks in the Federal Budget, which will be reduced by 50 percent between 2010 and 2012. The most serious problem is the lack of housing with 42 percent of the capital's population unable to qualify for loans to buy their first home.

[Excélsior, El Universal]

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Chinchilla leads polls in presidential race: If Costa Rica's presidential elections were held today, social democrat Laura Chinchilla of the National Liberation Party (PLN) would win with 55 percent of the votes. Opinion poll results published in Nación gave second place to Ottón Solís of the center-left Citizens' Action Party with 13 percent. Elections are scheduled for Feb. 7, 2010 and the new president will be sworn-in on May 8.

[Nación.com, Infolatam]

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Sharp increase in public debt: Since the start of 2009 President Ricardo Martinelli's government has increased Panamanian public debt by US$277 million. The figures, released by the Economy and Finance Ministry (MEF), reported that the total debt was US$11 billion dollars in August. A large proportion of the debt corresponds to World Bank payments to cover Panama's national budget shortfall, which was caused by a growing fiscal deficit.

[PA-Digital, La República]

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Decline in foreign investment: Direct foreign investment plunged by nine percent in the first six months of 2009 according to a report issued by the government's investment promotion agency ProNicaragua. The body's executive director Javier Chamorro revealed that investments reached US$231 million, or nine percent less than in the first half of 2008. Chamorro put Nicaragua’s figures into perspective by comparing them with the regional year-to-year average, with some Central American countries registering up to 30 percent less investment owing to the world financial crisis.

[DPA, Nación.com]

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