Sept. 30 News Brief Central America/Caribbean

Winston F. Burges

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Foreign reserves in decline: The Central Bank of Mexico revealed that the country's international reserves fell from US$76.54 billion to US$76.14 billion in the last week of September. The drop of US$404 million (0.53 percent) was a result of the bank's efforts to stabilize exchange rates. The world economic crisis has had serious repercussions in Mexico, including the highest level of unemployment in 14 years, which has left 2.5 million Mexicans without work.

[Excélsior, Reuters, El Universal]

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Government celebrates new jobs: More than 94,000 new jobs have been created under Guatemala's National Economic Emergency Recovery Program (PNERE), reported the initiative’s director Marco Cerezo. Most direct and indirect new jobs were created by small and medium enterprises in the public works sector, as well as through the hiring of new personnel by the ministries of Education, Health and Interior. The government has invested US$481 million in the creation of these new positions.

[La Hora, El Periódico]

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Public debt represents 50 percent of GDP: By the end of 2009, El Salvador's public debt to banks and financial institutions will have reached 50 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – half of what the entire country produces – according to government and International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts for 2009, 2010 and 2011. Salvadoran authorities predict that debt will not return to 2008 levels (44%) until at least 2014. Meanwhile, the IMF has granted El Salvador a US$800 million line of credit for emergencies.

[El Salvador.com, La Prensa Gráfica]

PANAMA CITY, Panama – President holds on to popularity: Seventy-seven percent of Panamanians agree with the policies of President Ricardo Martinelli. According to Mexican pollster Mitofsky Consultants, Martinelli is the fourth-most popular leader in the region behind El Salvador's Mauricio Funes (84%), Brazilian President Luiz Inácio (81%) and Chile's Michelle Bachelet (78%). Martinelli was sworn-in on July 1, 2009.

[PA-Digital, La Prensa]

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