17 June News Brief Central America/Caribbean

Karla Montaner

WASHINGTON D.C., U.S. – Mexico and U.S. reinforce border security: Mexican Finance Minister Agustín Carstens and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have agreed to strengthen customs cooperation between the two countries, with a focus on fighting drug trafficking and organised crime. The agreement, which follows on from the one signed in June 2007, entails the training of Mexican customs officers under the U.S. method; information exchange on criminal activities on the common border; and the streamlining of joint customs procedures to prevent the trafficking of drugs, weapons and cash, all to be accomplished without affecting bilateral trade.

[Notimex, AFP, La Crónica de Hoy, Milenio, EFE]

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Handover of SICA presidency to Costa Rica postponed: Nicaragua has decided to postpone a meeting between Central American presidents planned for 19 June, when the six-month presidency of the Central American Integration System (SICA) was due to be handed over to Costa Rica. The meeting will now take place on 28 and 29 June. The announcement came after leaders of Nicaragua’s ruling party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), criticised Costa Rican President Óscar Arias in the days leading up to the summit, labelling him anti-integrationist.

 [Prensa Libre, La Nación, EFE]

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Japan promote organic agriculture: The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is training Honduran farmers in chemical-free farming techniques with a view to working with ecosystems in an all-embracing manner, improving soil fertility and using local renewable resources. The rural community development expert and project chief, Maiko Morgan, mentioned that in addition to a healthy diet, the Asian organic agriculture model has proved effective in producing fruits and vegetables in family vegetable gardens. This production can even sustain community economies.

[La Tribuna, Terra, AFP]

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Mega road project opens: The Coastal Beltway built by Brazilian company Norberto Odebrecht with an investment of US$189 million will open on 1 July. According to the Central American country’s public works minister, Benjamín Colamarco, the finishing touches are all that is required for the new road to open to traffic. Together with the construction of the motorway between Panama City and Colón, the Coastal Beltway is one of the most important mega road projects performed by outgoing President Martín Torrijos. When it opens it should help solve traffic problems along the coast.


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