Nov. 2 News Brief Central America/Carribean

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – New tax law passed: The Mexican Senate approved the 2010 Revenues Bill, which calls for lifting fiscal secrecy and the introduction of new tax measures such as raising income tax rates from 28 to 30 percent. The law establishes a framework that gives more revenue to the state in order to compensate for the effects of the global financial crisis. However, the senators rejected an article requiring political parties to reveal all the fiscal details of their sources of campaign funding.

[Excélsior, El Universal]

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Unemployment and poverty rise: Costa Rica's poverty index will close 0.8 percent higher for 2009, with a year-on-year figure of 18.5 percent. Unemployment also rose by 2.9 percent compared to 2008, bringing the annual total to 7.8 percent. The figures were released by the National Institute for Statistics and Censuses (INEC), which explained that poverty rose less than expected thanks to all-time low inflation figures. The global financial crisis and falling production were to blame for the increase in unemployment.

[La Prensa Libre, Infolatam]

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Slight fall in tourism: According to the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (Inguat), during the first nine months of 2009, income from tourism fell by 0.7 percent compared to the same period in 2008. Inguat revealed that 1.28 million tourists visited Guatemala, spending a total of US$863 million. The announcement coincided with a visit from 190 Spanish travel agents in a bid to promote Guatemala as a tourist destination for Europeans. This initiative is expected to increase Spanish visitors by 10 to 20 percent.

[La Prensa Libre, SIECA]

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Costa Rica and Panama boost border security: With a recently signed association agreement, Costa Rica and Panama have pledged to increase bilateral cooperation on border issues and security. The pact, signed by Costa Rican President Óscar Arias and Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, also seeks to reinforced trade, political and bilateral relations and includes new electrical power lines and exchange programs for educational and cultural projects. Martinelli stressed that stronger diplomatic ties would contribute to fighting poverty, inequality and social exclusion in both countries.

[El Pregón, Panamá América]

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