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NotiCen offers information and analysis of regional economic integration, economic liberalization, and the impact on the environment, labor, politicization and income distribution in the countries of the Caribbean and Central America, including Cuba.

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Guatemalan President’s Brother and Son Arrested on Suspicion of Fraud

The brother and one of four sons of Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales, who won the 2015 elections after riding a wave of public indignation over a massive corruption scandal that forced his predecessor to step down, have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a fraud case. President Morales’ brother, Samuel Morales, known as “Sammy,” is accused of involvement in a fraud operation that embezzled around US$400,000 from the Guatemalan Property Registry, a case known as “Botín Registro de la Propiedad” (Property Registry Booty). At least 20 other suspects are linked to the case, including the former director of the Property Registry, Anabella de León. The Morales family’s involvement in the case came to light in September, when the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a UN-funded commission created in 2006 to investigate corruption and organized crime, dismantled a huge corruption network within the Property Registry that had siphoned off thousands of dollars’ worth of taxpayers’ money by signing contracts for services that were never provided and hiring staff who never showed up to work.

A Pioneer in Clean Electricity Production, Costa Rica Wants to Share Its Knowledge

Having produced almost all its electricity from renewable sources last year, Costa Rica, a country with a solid international image as a protector of the environment, wants to share its knowledge.The idea is for this Central American nation to become a “green hub” and make available to others the lessons it has learned over decades of using renewable sources for the generation of its electricity, which reaches almost all of its approximately 5 million people . Costa Rica opted for environmentally safe electricity almost 70 years ago, when it created the state-owned Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (Costa Rican Electricity Institute, ICE). At the time, ICE focused on hydroelectric power, but over the years, it broadened the scope of its production to sources such as biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind. Fuel is a source for less than 1% of the energy produced, according to Laura Lizano, an energy expert with the Environment and Energy Department (Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, MINAE). This is unavoidable, she said, since some of the renewable sources are not constantly available. “There is a thermal participation, of course’” Lizano told LADB. “There has to be, actually, because we can’t depend only on variable resources.” A backup is necessary because sources such as sun or wind are not always available in the amounts needed, and this affects electricity distribution, she pointed out.

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