2009-06-11

11 June News Brief Central America/Caribbean

Lucía Vega

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Thousands stage violent demonstrations for wage increase: Thousands of people led violent demonstrations in the Haitian capital to demand an increase in the minimum wage from less than US$1 to US$5 per day. The demonstrations were started days earlier by students at the State University, but went out of control with the arrival of residents from marginalised areas on the outskirts of the city who attacked police with rocks and set fire to vehicles. Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was forced to resign his post a year ago after ten days of similar demonstrations.

[Prensa Latina, AFP]

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Dominican Republic plans to pay for oil with beans: Dominican Finance Minister Vicente Bengoa announced that he will ask Venezuela to allow the country to pay part of its debt to Petrocaribe with black beans in a meeting with the organisation's ministers on 11 June. The Dominican Republic owes around US$50 million on fuels and will request to pay half of its debt with the production of 100,000 hectares of bean crops. The island is also looking to exchange tourism services and other products such as liquid sugar. Nicaragua has managed to strike similar agreements in the past to pay its debt to Petróleos de Venezuela.

 [El Nuevo Diario, El Día, El País]

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Salvadoran army prepared to ask for forgiveness: El Salvador’s recently appointed Defence Minister David Munguía said that the army should ask for forgiveness for the excesses committed in the armed conflict between 1981 and 1992, during which 75,000 Salvadorans are estimated to have been killed. He also offered to open any files required to investigate probable human rights violations by soldiers. Significantly, he added that the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), President Mauricio Funes’ party, should also make similar apologies for their excesses and human rights violations.

[ANSA, El Mundo, EFE]

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – MCC withdraws aid for development: The U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation has announced the definitive withdrawal of the remaining US$64 million from the Nicaraguan government’s fund for development projects since no progress has been made regarding complaints of electoral fraud by the ruling Sandinista party. The U.S. and other cooperating nations froze financial aid as a result of irregularities discovered in the local elections in November 2008. The money was destined to be used for building a road and legalising the properties of 36,000 families. The money would have comprised the final instalment of a total of US$175 million originally allocated in 2005.

[La Prensa, El Nuevo Diario]

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