As of Thursday, evening two appointments have been confirmed. The current executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, will head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores-SRE), replacing Patricia Espinosa Cantellano. And Eduardo Medina Mora Thomas, former head of the Center for Investigation and National Security (Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional -Cisen) and the Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría General de la República-PGR) and current Ambassador of Mexico to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, will occupy the Mexican embassy in Washington.
Currently, Mexico’s congress does not have a dominant political party, so Peña Nieto and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional—PRI) will have to seek consensus after gaining power for the first time in 12 years. A source close to Peña Nieto said that while addressing violence, kidnappings and extortion are demanding issues, the country faces other pressing concerns.
Mexico's incoming president will need to address the alarming unemployment figure of 8 million young adults that are out of the work, despite the fact that Mexico is the second-strongest economy in Latin America, behind Brazil. The pursuit of free-trade agreements between Mexico and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) has been discussed for decades, but these initiatives have been stagnant. Mexico is the seventh-largest producer of crude oil in the world, but the country needs more private investors to take advantage of the Mexican economy’s projected 3 to 4 percent growth. Although it is fundamental to create incentives for private investors for the exploration and production of crude oil, there are limits, since most of the resources are state-owned.
Updated (November 30, 4:30p.m.): Enrique Peña Nieto's cabinet was introduced. Here is a complete list of the names with their government posts.
With an emphatic, “I swear,” last weekend Otto Pérez Molina became the first former soldier to be democratically elected as president of Guatemala since the 1996 Peace Accords.
By his side was Roxana Baldetti, who was sworn in as the first woman to hold the title of vice-president in the country’s history.
The inauguration, attended by 98 international missions, including 12 heads of state and Spain’s Prince Felipe de Borbon, had an element of tension to it. When President Otto Pérez Molina promised to spend 55-60 percent of his government’s time on security, he could not have meant within the first 24 hours of his presidency.
Events around the country threatened to overshadow Pérez Molina’s big day.
The murder of congressman Valentin Leal Caal, in close proximity to the Congress building in Zone One of Guatemala City, occurred a day before the presidential handover. Leal Caal was elected as a candidate for LIDER, headed by Manuel Baldizón, who lost to the retired general in the second round of the Guatemalan election in November.
Preparations are underway in Port-au-Prince today as Haiti readies for the inauguration of President-elect Michel Martelly on Saturday. The ceremony, which will take place on the grounds of the heavily damaged national palace, marks the first transfer of power since the 2010 earthquake that left nearly 1 million homeless.
Approximately 150 foreign dignitaries are expected to attend the event, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten and numerous heads of state from Latin America and the Caribbean. However, Mr. Martelly has stirred controversy in Haiti by inviting all eight of Haiti’s living presidents to the event, including former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc’’ Duvalier. In a statement, Haiti's National Human Rights Defense called the decision to invite Duvalier “a total disregard to the tens of thousands of victims” of his regime.
Mr. Martelly will face daunting challenges as president. The earthquake recovery effort is far from complete and recent months have brought increasing insecurity and economic hardship. Robert Maguire, associate professor of international affairs at Washington DC-based Trinity Washington University, provides in-depth analysis of Haiti’s precarious situation and offers a few possible solutions in his article, “Haiti's New President: Welcome to the Toughest Job in the Americas,” in the latest issue of Americas Quarterly.”
The streets of Panama are empty today as millions await the inauguration of Ricardo Martinelli, winner of the May 3 elections with approximately 60 percent of the popular vote. Martinelli, a millionaire who owns the largest supermarket chain in Panama, has vowed to reform the education system and to give $100 pensions to seniors over age 70. He also has promised to combat crime and improve infrastructure, including a pledge to construct a modern subway system in the capital.
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya—currently in exile after last Sunday’s military coup—will be among the world leaders at the inauguration. Other attendees include: Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, and Felipe de Borbon, the heir to the Spanish throne.
Martinelli takes office amid high expectations. But some economists are skeptical whether he will be able to fulfill his promises due to the current economic crisis. One item that will certainly be on the agenda is moving forward the U.S.-Panama free-trade agreement.