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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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Hurricane Forces Latest Delay in Presidential Elections in Haiti

A year ago, it was major ballot irregularities. This month, a phenomenal hurricane got in the way, and the repeatedly postponed presidential vote was again delayed in Haiti. Elections have now been re-scheduled for Nov. 20. In the past six years, Haiti has endured the devastating 7.0 earthquake of January 2010, an ongoing cholera epidemic, and now the most destructive weather event in years––the Category 4 hurricane Matthew, whose aftermath has given new force to the cholera epidemic. Beyond extending the political crisis, Matthew has worsened conditions for the millions of people––more than 80% of the population––who live in extreme poverty, barely surviving on less than US$2 a day. Matthew’s winds also caused severe infrastructure damage, including the destruction of a key bridge as well as schools and other buildings that were to be used as voting centers. According to preliminary reports, thousands of victims were taken to 224 temporary shelters in the country’s southwest, the region most severely affected by the storm, particularly in the departments of Grand’Anse and Sud.

Grumblings from Washington as Nicaraguan Elections Near

Lawmakers in the US have added an extra layer of drama to Nicaragua’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, threatening economic sanctions if President Daniel Ortega, a virtual shoo-in for reelection, fails to improve his tarnished democratic credentials.On Sept. 21, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve legislation known as the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2016. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, calls on the US to oppose non-humanitarian loans to Nicaragua unless the Nicaraguan government, led by Ortega since 2007, takes “effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections, and for other purposes.” The “other purposes” include strengthening the rule of law and ensuring that Nicaragua’s judiciary and electoral council—which have proven, in recent years, to be openly partial to Ortega—operate independently. The NICA legislation threatens to cut Nicaragua off from hundreds of millions of dollars in credits from international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.

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