Aug. 24 News Brief Central America/Caribbean
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – U.S. and Mexico resume repatriation program: The U.S. and Mexican governments have opened the 2009 season of the Voluntary Interior Repatriation Program. The program aims to protect illegal immigrants and fight human trafficking, and has already repatriated 82,341 people since it first began in 2004. The program operates on an annual basis during the hottest part of the year in the Arizona desert, between August and September, and is overseen by the Mexican State Department and U.S. Homeland Security.
[Excélsior, Notimex, El Universal]
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Government backs Sacyr for canal expansion: The Panamanian government has ensured that the consortium led by Spanish company Sacyr Vallehermoso is capable of building the third section of locks on the canal, in a statement made by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). Sacyr won the contract with a bid of US$3.12 billion, but the public questioned the decision after the company reported significant financial debt to the Spanish Stock Market in July, amounting to total losses of US$17.3 billion.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – President Funes begins visit to Chile: Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes travelled to Chile on Aug. 24 to meet his counterpart, Michelle Bachelet and sign cooperative agreements. According to the Salvadoran Presidential Press Office, the agreements are related to strengthening institutionality and social policies. President Funes will also visit the Supreme Court of Justice and the Chilean Congress. He will then travel to Brazil in early September to discuss a loan from Brazil’s National Economic and Social Development Bank (Bndes) with President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva.
[La Prensa Gráfica, Elsalvador.com, AP]
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Micheletti backs November elections: One hundred days prior to the date set for presidential elections in Honduras, de facto president Roberto Micheletti has urged citizens to vote and endorse the elections. “This way we can show the world that what happened on June 28 (the forced succession of President Manuel Zelaya) was to defend our democracy,” asserted Micheletti. The Honduran electoral campaign will begin on Aug. 31, while democratically elected President Zelaya continues to visit countries in the region in search of support for his reinstatement.