15 May News Brief Central America/Caribbean

Guillermo Ramírez

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – IMF assesses Nicaraguan economy: An International Monetary Fund mission is assessing the performance of the country’s economic indicators. It is working together with the Nicaraguan government to decide on the feasibility of issuing an initial US$40 million loan out of total of US$118 million applied for by Daniel Ortega’s government for the next two years. IMF representative Humberto Arbulú said that the international body wants to analyse the projects for which funds would be used and the circumstances under which the loan would be issued. The loan would also help to finance Nicaragua’s budget deficit.

[El Nuevo Diario, AFP]

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Agreement on non-successive presidential re-election: President Leonel Fernández and the main opposition group, the Dominican Revolutionary Party, have signed an agreement on amending the law on presidential re-election set out in the Dominican Republic's constitution to allow former presidents to stand for office again after a period of four years. The agreement, which also includes holding all national and local electoral processes on a single day, must be approved by Congress. If this happens, Fernández will be able to stand for president again in 2016.

[Listín Diario, EFE]

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – UN recommends greater transparency in selection of judges and magistrates: Leandro Despouy, the UN’s special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, has recommended that the Guatemalan government make the selection of magistrates and members of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Court of Appeals more transparent. The recommendation is aimed at tackling impunity and modernising the justice system in Guatemala. During an official visit to examine judicial progress in Guatemala, Despouy suggested permanent public observers of the selection of judges be implemented so that society can contribute to consolidating the transparency of the process.

[ACAN-EFE, Siglo Veintiuno]

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Government acknowledges economic recession: President Óscar Arias has formally acknowledged that the country’s economy has slipped into recession, after results showing reduced economic activity for the second consecutive quarter were released. It is possible that the end of 2009 will see negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth or, in the best-case scenario, zero growth. Nevertheless, employment and salary figures may remain positive, although negligibly-so. The Central Bank has announced that the most severely affected sectors are those linked to tourism and foreign capital, such as manufacturing, construction and property.

[La Nación, AFP]

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Mexico agrees to extradite drug trafficker Arellano Félix to U.S.: A Mexican federal court has approved the extradition of the former leader of the Tijuana Cartel, Benjamín “The Min” Arellano Félix, to the U.S. on charges of money laundering, criminal association and other crimes. The drug trafficker, who was arrested in 2002, had asked that Mexican courts deny the extradition request based on the argument that he could face the death penalty. The judge rejected this, however, based on the fact that U.S. courts have not charged him with homicide, which is the only crime to carry the death penalty there. The extradition will likely take place in mid-June.

[El Universal, Notisistema]

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