Today in Latin America
Top Story — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Wednesday the cancellation Haiti’s $268 million outstanding debt.
On top of the debt cancellation, the IMF’s executive board approved a three-year request by authorities to support Haiti’s reconstruction and growth program. The $60 million loan is intended to boost Haiti’s international reserves and aid the central bank in managing potential swings in the value of the local currency.
Both decisions are part of an effort to aid the Caribbean nation after the the devastating earthquake six months ago that has left some 230,000 people dead and more than a million homeless.
“Donors must start delivering on their promises to Haiti quickly so reconstruction can be accelerated, living standards quickly improved, and social tensions soothed,” IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Wednesday, according to the BBC.
The loan’s interest rate will be zero through 2011 and as much as 0.5 percent after that, according to the IMF.
The IMF and other international lending organizations have been under criticism recently for their loan practices with developing nations, such as Haiti.
“While it is welcome that the fund is providing Haiti with debt relief, it is deeply concerning that at the same time the fund is risking a build-up of Haiti’s future debt problems with a loan,” Oxfam International Policy Adviser Pamela Gomez said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. “This assistance should be a grant, not another loan.”
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- The Board of Immigration Appeals is reviewing the case of Lesly Yajayra Perdomo. The board’s decision may make it easier for Guatemalan women to claim asylum in the United States, based on the argument that they face high levels of violence in their home country. Read more at the latest installment of Alison Bowen’s blog, Beyond Borders.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The U.S. State Department extended a travel warning for parts of northern Mexico including the border city of Nogales, due to continued violence.
- Mexico has seen a large increase in the number of hemorrhagic dengue cases, due to floods caused by recent storms.
- The Cuban government has said it is ready to release more political prisoners, in addition to the 52 it announced it would free earlier this month.
- Opponent’s of Haiti’s President René Préval are planning a general strike to press for a postponement of the Nov. 28 elections and to call for a new electoral council to be formed.
- A five-foot-long caiman entered a mall in Puerto Rico, surprising shoppers.
- Presidents of member states of the Central American Integration System (SICA) convening in El Salvador Tuesday agreed to readmit Honduras to the OAS and SICA.
- Joaquín Maza of El Salvador replaced Ecuador’s Francisco Proano as president of the permanent council of the OAS after Proano quit.
- Panama’s First Lady, Marta Martinelli, asked for $3 million to build health centers that would decrease infant mortality in Panama during a visit to the United States.
- Nicaragua signed bilateral agreements with South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Mexico Tuesday.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was criticized by human rights groups for creating a new government ministry that will monitor all information released by government agencies, citing concerns about censorship.
- Approximately 5,000 Colombians, many belonging to indigenous groups, marched in Bogotá Wednesday to protest an agreement that will give the U.S. military greater access to Colombian military bases.
- Five Bolivians and a Brazilian were in arrested in Santa Cruz province, Bolivia, for possession of $730,000 that authorities allege is linked to drug trafficking.
- The 1,200 year-old remains of a Sican ruler were discovered in a sarcophagus buried in northern Peru.
- Argentine President Cristina Fernández del Kirchner signed a bill legalizing gay marriage on Wednesday, making the law official.
- Brazilian President Lula da Silva signed the Racial Equality Law on Tuesday, which will offer tax incentives to businesses which promote racial inclusion and mandate the teaching of Afro-Brazilian history in schools.
- Members of the Catholic Chilean Bishops’ Conference petitioned President Sebastián Piñera to pardon members of the military during the Pinochet dictatorship, which killed at least 3,000 Chileans between 1973-1990.
- Uruguay’s air force in analyzing a photo of a supposed UFO that it received on Tuesday, taken the day of the national soccer team’s return from South Africa.
Image: @ Flickr.