Oct. 22 News Brief Central America/Caribbean

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – U.S. and Mexico work to fight drug trafficking: After presenting his credentials to President Felipe Calderón, the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, underscored the need to work together to fight illegal drug trafficking. The diplomat declared that drug trafficking affects and threatens the hemisphere as a whole and it must maintain a united front, as with the Merida Initiative, to confront the criminals. Pascual confirmed that the U.S. will send more helicopters and planes at the end of the year within the context of this initiative to reinforce the work of Mexican law enforcement.

[Excélsior, El Universal]

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – OAS trusts dialogue to solve crisis: With dialogue between followers of Manuel Zelaya and those of de facto president Roberto Micheletti strained to the breaking point, the Organization of American States (OAS) has stated that negotiations are the key to putting an end to the institutional crisis. The body’s envoy in Tegucigalpa, John Biehl, urged both sides to break the deadlock and sit down and discuss the San José Agreement advocated by Costa Rican President Óscar Arias Sánchez, which provides for Zelaya’s reinstatement.

[El Heraldo, La Tribuna]

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Quetzal suffers sharp devaluation: Since the beginning of the year, Guatemala’s currency, the quetzal, has lost 7.46 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. This makes it the second most depreciated currency in Latin America behind the Argentinian peso, which has dropped by 10.52 percent. In January 2009, one dollar was quoted at Q7.78, compared to Q8.36 ten months later. According to risk assessor Fitch Ratings, the depreciation is a result of the global financial crisis, which has reduced the flow of tourists and investment.

[La Prensa Libre, El Periódico]

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Crisis at the heart of the opposition: The main opposition party in El Salvador, the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena), is suffering an internal crisis after 12 of its 32 representatives decided to vote in line with the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) on sensitive national issues. The situation concerns Arena leaders, national business leaders and even President Mauricio Funes of the FMLN himself, who believe it may negatively impact the country’s stability and undermine democracy because the government could gain a majority share of power in the legislature.

[La Prensa Libre, Salvador.com]

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