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Former Costa Rican president sentenced to jail

Rafael Calderon, the former president of Costa Rica, was sentenced to five years in prison after he was convicted of corruption while in office.

Calderon, who served as head of state from 1990 to 1994, is the first ex-president to be tried for corruption. He had been arrested in October 2004, charged with taking an illegal commission after the government bought medical equipment from Finland. Calderon denied the charges. Read More…

Costa Rican president has swine flu

Óscar Arias Sánchez, President of Costa Rica and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, appears to be the first head of state to be infected with the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as swine flu, official sources confirmed on Tuesday.

Óscar Arias Sánchez

Óscar Arias Sánchez

Arias tested positive for a mild case of the virus, Presidential Minister Rodrigo Arias said. The president’s condition is stable, though he will be isolated at home for several days.

“Apart from the fever and a soar throat, I feel well and in good shape to carry out my work by telecommuting. I expect to return to all my duties on Monday,” Arias said in a statement.

He previously served as President from 1986 to 1990 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end civil wars then raging in several other Central American countries.

In 2003, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims.

According to the latest report from the Costa Rican health authorities, 27 patients have died from H1N1 flu and 798 were infected.

LA migrant workers remittances

Slumping economies in the United States, Spain and Japan are causing reverberations in the countries of Latin America as migrant workers send less money home.

Latin America

Latin America

The Inter-American Development Bank reported that for the first time since they began tracking remittances in 2000, remittances to Latin America declined in the fourth quarter of 2008, dropping 2% relative to the fourth quarter of 2007.

In January, remittances declined further, with Colombia experiencing a 16% drop relative to 2008, Brazil suffering a 14% decline, Mexico 12%, and Guatemala and El Salvador each falling 8%.

These numbers come as 2008 saw an average 10% increase in remittances. Nearly US$70 billion was sent back to families in those areas in 2008. Read More…