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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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Corruption, Abuse of Power, Gang Violence Endanger Democracy in Central America

The 1987 signing of a regional peace agreement formally ended the internal wars between guerrillas and national armies that had raged throughout Central America, but the violence itself was replaced by a conflict between organized crime and security forces that is still alive today. Along with pacifying the region, the accord, known as the Acuerdo de Esquipulas (Esquipulas Agreement), sought to strengthen democracy as a means to, among other goals, bring about development and facilitate regional integration. But contrary to the expectations, democracy has not really consolidated itself in most of the countries in the region.Democracy is the system favored by most Central Americans, although not as wholeheartedly as would be expected. Many express mixed feelings when it comes to democracy, seeing it is a suitable means to facilitate solutions, but at the same time saying they would not mind having non-democratic governments as long as they solve economic problems. The majority also say that curbing freedom as a means to have order does not sound all that bad, according to Latinobarómetro’s most recent survey, Informe 2016, released in August

Ex-President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador Granted Asylum in Nicaragua

More than two years after completing his term as president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes (2009-2014), a political moderate and former television journalist, is again making headlines, this time as the target of a high-profile corruption probe and the lead protagonist in a developing diplomatic affair involving nearby Nicaragua. Funes’ finances have been a subject of speculation since early February, when the Sección de Probidad, a special anti-graft unit with El Salvador’s Corte Suprema de Justicia (Supreme Court of Justice, CSJ), audited the former president and discovered more than US$700,000 in unaccounted-for payments, income, and assets.The full CSJ voted to approve the findings days later, paving the way for Funes—together with his ex-wife Vanda Pignato, and one of his sons, Diego Roberto Funes—to be tried in civil court for illicit enrichment. Funes used Twitter to publish a running commentary on the raids and profess his innocence. In a notice published Sept. 6, Nicaragua’s official government journal, La Gaceta, made the bombshell announcement that authorities there had granted political asylum to Funes, his 26-year-old partner, Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza; their three-year-old son; and two of his other sons, including Diego Roberto Funes, the one named in the aforementioned civil suit.

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