2009-05-28

28 May News Brief Central America/Caribbean

Lucía Vega

ROATÁN, Honduras – Earthquake shakes Honduras: In the early morning of 28 May an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale shook Honduras and Central America. The epicentre of the earthquake, which originated at a depth of 10 kilometres in the Caribbean Sea, was 73 kilometres north of Roatán, in the Bay Islands of Honduras. So far there has been one reported death, 200 kilometres from the Honduran capital, and several injured in both Honduras and Belize. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre initially issued an alert for the coastal regions of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala, but the warning was cancelled after no increase in sea levels was observed. The tremors were felt in a number of cities in the region, extending as far as Cancún, Mexico.

[BBC Mundo, AP]

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaragua asks Costa Rica for integration: The Nicaraguan government has asked Costa Rica for “real and immediate” evidence that it is interested in forming part of the Central American Integration System (SICA). Nicaragua is due to take up the presidency of SICA in the second half of this year. Nicaragua described statements issued previously by Costa Rican President Óscar Arias that the regional meetings are useless for solving problems as offensive. Although Costa Rica signed SICA’s constituent treaty in 1991, it is not a member of the majority of its bodies and often fails to take part in meetings.

[El Nuevo Diario, AP]

PANAMA CITY, Panama – National Assembly members back down on additional salaries: Members of the National Assembly, which will be renewed on 1 July, have decided to modify a law approved two days previously which would have allowed them to receive a salary in July and August, despite the fact they would not be performing duties. The legislators made the decision to change the law after it was clear there was widespread opposition to the new legislation. The measure would have required a public expenditure of US$2 million.

[Mi Diario, SDP, La Estrella]

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Costa Rica looks to wrap up negotiations with EU in July: Costa Rica has urged Central America to reach agreement on outstanding issues and bring negotiations to a close at the upcoming technical talks on the European Union Association Agreement between the two blocs in Brussels in July. Roberto Echandi, Costa Rica’s chief negotiator, warned that if the agreement is not finalised by this time, the talks could remain deadlocked during the European summer holiday months of August and September and would need to wait until the changeover of European Commissioners (planned for the second half of the year) is complete.

[La Nación, Costa Rica Hoy]

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – President underscores Spanish investment achievements: On his return from a tour of Spain, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández reported on the trip's achievements and the agreements reached with Spain in terms of social cooperation and investment in infrastructure. Fernández underscored the signing of an agreement which will allow the country to obtain US$290 million in non-refundable funds for social projects, such as building schools, drinking water systems and healthcare infrastructure. He also obtained an agreement to finance development projects to fight poverty in the border area which the country shares with Haiti.

[Listín Diario, El Día]

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