Nov. 17 News Brief Central America/Caribbean

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Canada urged to reconsider visa requirements: The Mexican government has asked Canada to lift its visa requirements for Mexican travelers. In the meantime, Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa urged Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon to make visas for tourists and businessmen easier to obtain until the measures were lifted. Canada imposed the need for visas on Mexicans in July, owing to a flood of asylum requests that, according to the Canadian government, turned out to be without grounds.

[Excélsior, El Universal]

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Brazilian project wins social innovation prize: The Social Innovation Contest, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), has been won by a Brazilian project involving community control of public funds. The plan was developed by the Social Observatory of Maringá and received the top prize of US$30,000, to be used toward its implementation. The contest, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, seeks to encourage projects to combat poverty, inequality and social exclusion.

[Prensa Latina, CEPAL, Informador]

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Arias prepares visit to Middle East: Costa Rican President Óscar Arias will tour the Middle East in an effort to forge closer trade relations. The visit will begin in late November and include Turkey, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel. In Turkey, Arias will be awarded an honorary degree from the University of Babseschir in Istambul. In Costa Rica, Turkish Ambassador Alev Vilic indicated that the visit signaled the possibility of a future Free Trade Agreement between both countries.

[Spanish Daily, AFP, Nacion]

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Panama to open up trade with Nicaragua: When the Nicaragua–Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) comes into vigor on Nov. 23, 90 percent of goods traded between both countries will be allowed to flow freely. The agreement will allow Nicaragua to boost its sales by 20 percent in the neighboring country and trade between both nations is expected to reach US$37 million per year, compared to US$30.5 million in 2008. The FTA was approved by the Nicaraguan Congress in July and was ratified by Panama on Oct. 22.

[Prensa Latina, Estrategia & Negocios]

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