November 18, 2005
Beatriz Merino, a respected technocrat who had once headed the country's tax collection agency SUNAT, was just sworn in as "Defender of the Public," a kind of ombudsman. See La Republica (of Peru, in Spanish). In a country where public administration is often capricious and/or corrupt, that is a very important position. Ms. Merino served as prime minister for the hapless President Toledo from July until December 2003, and was forced to step down after a vicious campaign of rumors that she was a lesbian.
The presidential election in Honduras will be November 27, nine days hence. The candidate of the National Party, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, promised 600,000 new jobs under the slogan of "work and security for all." With a background in agribusiness (wealthy landlord?), he says he has a strong fist but denies aspiring to be a dictator. See El Herald, in Spanish.
At least 10,000 people marched to the seat of the national legislature in San Jose on Wednesday, protesting against the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States. Costa Rica is the only signatory state that has not yet ratified the agreement.