Central America Briefing
The Caribbean Council's Exclusive Publication on Central America

Covering Guatemala to Panama, Central America Briefing provides our subscribers and members with a fortnightly spotlight on the key business opportunities and political developments affecting foreign investors with business operations or capital investments in the region.

Central America Briefing Subscribers receive 22 editions over 12 months featuring the latest reports, business news and insightful analysis.

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Leading Articles Featured in Central America Briefing  

10th November 2023

With four deaths, including an alleged double shooting on a motorway, Panama’s protests enter a third week. Although there are signs of splits in the various factions, the teachers’ union has stated that protests will remain. Schools have begun to reopen but only an estimated 20% nationwide are receiving students. Prosecutors have opened 175 investigations with almost 1,000 people arrested. President Rodrigo Chaves proposed a mining moratorium which is in its second reading in the National Assembly. Lawyers have warned that arbitration with Minera Panama could cost up to US$20bn. Ratings agencies have changed Panama’s outlook to negative in response to the protests.

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Photo by: Arnulfo Blanco

27th October 2023

A revised contract between the Panama state and Minera Panamá has resulted in a wave of civil unrest across the country. Schools and universities have suspended classes, MiBus has cancelled some bus services and medical staff followed through with a threat to join the strike. Adolfo Fábrega,  president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) claims that the protests are costing the country US$60-90mn a day. After Congress and President Cortizo approved the contract for 20 years, people took to the streets demanding the repeal of Law 406. There are at least three legal measures claiming the Law violates Panama’s constitution currently filed. The government and Minera Panamá stated that clauses that could violate Panama’s sovereignty were removed.

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Photo: La Prensa Latin

18th October 2023

Nationwide protests entered their second week in Guatemala, with groups demanding the resignation of attorney general Consuelo Porras. President Giammattei has offered dialogue, mediated by the OAS with one major group – the 48 Cantones of Totonicapan. An average of over 110 road blockages in the past week have caused an estimated US$60mn in economic losses, fuel supply issues at airports, stuck tourists and school closures. The Constitutional Court has given permission for the police to use force to break blockades up.

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Photo via: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

15th September 2023

The special anti-corruption unit FECI opened an estimated 60 electoral boxes from Guatemala’s first round elections held in June. According to FECI boss Rafael Curruchiche, the raids were not in conjunction with cases against the incoming governmental party Semilla. The raids were signed off by Freddy Orellana, a district judge. Some critics have argued this is an overreach, others have called it a judicial coup.President Alejandro Giammattei and Bernardo Arevalo have begun the transition process with a tentative cabinet being named locally.

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Photo via ABC News

28 July 2023

The EU will invest €45bn in Latin America and the Caribbean for projects involving renewable energies, mobility and digital services. The financing will be made available through the European Global Gateway which will involve the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF) and other multilaterals. It will include the fight against climate change, an issue that affects both regions. It will also promote renewable energy, electromobility, technology transfer and strengthening agro-industry. CAF has identified 67 initiatives for the investment which will aim to reduce poverty, inequality, improve food security and green energy.

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Photo: CAF

14th July 2023

The second round of Guatemala’s election appears to be between Sandra Torres (UNE) and Bernardo Arevalo (Semilla). It took the intervention of the Constitutional Court to guarantee the process after the Ministerio Publico tried to have Semilla eliminated as an entity following allegations of fraud when setting the party up in 2019. Critics suggested this was a judicial overreach but it is a case that could return after the second round on 20th August.

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Photo: Sawt Beirut international

30th June 2023

Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica are the three top destinations for investors in Latin America according to a KPMG survey. According to an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) analysis, Costa Rica has the potential to increase exports to the US by US$1.5bn per year. 17% of respondents thought Costa Rica was very attractive with 37% stating it was attractive. The KPMG survey, part of its Dataseries, was conducted between March and April 2023. Panama was the next highest in Central America with a positive return of 43%. Followed by Honduras with 41%. The Honduran Central Bank recently announced it had received no new FDI in Q12023 and internation al investment had fallen by almost 40% year-on-year. El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua only beat Venezuela and Bolivia in the survey.

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Photo by César Badilla Miranda

16th June 2023 

Officials have warned that under extreme conditions, the Panama Canal will have to implement traffic restrictions due to water shortages in the area. May was the driest month recorded at the Canal since 1950. Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez stated if the current conditions continued then weight restrictions on ships could be implemented or strict limits on the number of how many could transit daily. The Panamanian government has already declared a state of environment emergency due to the prolonged drought. Reducing transiting ships from 36 to 28-32 daily could cause a slowdown in regional trade and be a factor in Central American inflationary pressures.

Joe Raedle via Getty Images

2nd June 2023

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has announced a proposal to allow temporary work visas for Central Americans in Mexico. The visas will enable regional workers to be employed on such projects as the Maya Train. Trades such as welders, blacksmiths and other manual work as well as engineers will be required. In order to link up the south of Mexico, which includes the Maya train, Interoceanic rail corridor and ports on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, AMLO said Mexico will require more workers. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) in a report published in Mexico City, there have been some programs in the region but migration is outstripping them. In the past 15 years international migrants have grown in Latin America and the Caribbean from 7 to 15 million, 5.3% of the world’s total.

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PHOTO: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a news conference at the Secretariat of Security and Civilian Protection in Mexico City, Mexico REUTERS/Henry Romero