Una de las esclusas del Canal de Panamá. One of the levy’s in the Panama Canal.
Photo Courtesy www.vozpopuli.com

The Spanish contractor Sacyr and the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) crossed paths this Friday, after the announcement that the contractor would halt the work of the consortium if a settlement is not reached between the two companies.Currently, both parties remains in open dialogue to try to achieve an agreement that allows resuming expansion work.

According Sacyr, the PCA has not paid a remaining bill of about $50 million nor helped in financing costs to pay the subcontractors and workers, which has caused them many “additional costs” adding up to over $1.6 billion in overruns.

The PCA, meanwhile, presented a new proposal which requires both parties to finance the continuation of the project.
The U.S. government expressed that it is “closely following the development in the dispute over cost overruns” through an anonymous spokesman, according to a Spanish news company. In turn, the Panamanian Foreign Minister, Fernando Nunez Fabrega, said the channel expansion “benefits the United States more than Panama,” as it is the largest user of the canal.

The breakdown of negotiations put “at risk the expansion of the Panama Canal and up to 10,000 jobs,” according to the state agency, which stressed that “without an immediate solution” parties “face years of wrangling in court on the steps that have led the project to the brink of failure.”

Salvador Sanchez Ceren (L), presidential candidate for the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) kisses his wife Margarita Villalta, after Ceren casted his vote in the presidential elections in San Salvador, February 2, 2014. Photo Courtesy Latin Times

The elections of Feb. 2 yielded a wide triumph of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), a political party created by former left-wing guerrillas. Its presidential candidate, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, won nearly 49 percent of the votes, while the conservative Norman Quijano (ARENA) fell behind with 38 percent of the vote.

Salvadoran laws state that more than 50 percent is required plus one of the votes to avoid a runoff. This way, Sanchez Ceren will have to conquer one more point in the second round to become the President of El Salvador. The candidate has been a former guerrilla who, under the name of “Commander Leonel González,” signed the peace accords of 1992.


The Presidential elections of Feb. 2 determined that the presidential succession will take place between Luis Guillermo Solís (candidate of the Citizen’s Action Party), who won 31 percent of the votes, and Johnny Araya (National Liberation Party), who followed him closely with almost 30 percent of the votes. Out of race was José María Villalta Florez —close to Chavez and the Sandinistas— who received a 17 percent of the votes.

The Second round of elections will be held on April 6. In this new phase, Solís called for the dialogue across the country: “In the next two months, we are obliged to establish a dialogue with political movements, organizations, personalities and political parties,” he said. Meanwhile, the PLN admitted that the society is looking for a change and that they are hoping to attain presidency. “The people have defined the change and a mature party like ours must be able to read this,” said Walter Coto, a representative of Araya.

Mural de Daniel Ortega en Nicaragua. A mural of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
Photo Courtesy www.peru21.pe

On Feb. 11, the constitutional reform that enables the indefinite re-election of presidents has came into effect in Nicaragua. The measure was driven by Daniel Ortega — current president and leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)— and approved by the National Assembly.

The law allows access to the presidency by a majority vote, without having to obtain a minimum level to avoid a runoff and, at the same time, reduce the percentage of votes to be elected president of the republic.

The reform will allow Ortega to go for a third consecutive term in 2016. After ruling by force between 1985 and 1990 after the defeat of the Somoza dictatorship, held which ruled the country since 1934, his triumph by peaceful means in 2006 was characterized by the division of the FSLN and the approach by the Catholic Church, which involved, among other measures, the criminalization of abortion.