Current Events in Central America

Here is a brief look at some of the things making news in this part of the world:

* Nicaragua has long been a country of rolling black-outs. As of the first of the year they are desperately trying to quell that problem by introducing a $90 million wind derived energy project. The 19 windmills have the potential to offer more than 6% of the nation’s energy needs by producing 40-megawatts of energy. Already this current project is slated to save the country over $9 million a year in fuel costs and is allowing for the development of another 40-megawatt instillation. Nicaragua is not only seeking wind energy, but geothermal energy from surrounding volcanoes and hydroelectricity from their rivers as they attempt to reduce dependency on foreign oil. Already those other projects are responsible for 34% of the nations energy and increasingly promising the goal to have reliance on oil to 3% by 2013.

*Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez, of renowned Cuban group, Buena Vista Social Club passed away last Monday at the age of 76 due to complications of prostate surgery in his native Havana, Cuba. As he was the bass player, he was widely considered the “heartbeat” of the group. Like many of the original line of of members, Lopez was in his musical prime in the 1950s and 1960s and only forming in 1997 with their debut album titled “Los Superabuelos” (The super grand-fathers. Soon after several of the musicians were re-paired to record the self-titled album that quickly received international attention and acclaim and now considered ” a classic.”

*Clean up efforts are slowly but surely coming along after last month’s 6.1 earthquake that struck in central Costa Rica. The earthquake’s epicenter was approximately located 30km NNW of the country’s capital of San Jose and 80km ENE of beach town Punta Arenas and was felt all over the country and in parts of Nicaragua. Unfortunately the earthquake claimed 34 lives and injured nearly 100 as it struck at 1:30pm. Most of the deaths occurred when a massive landslide was caused near La Paz waterfall. Many homes were ruined and over 1,000 people have been displaced. Thankfully, national and international state-affiliated and NGOs are pitching in to get the Sarapiqui region back on it’s feet. Most recent to join the cause are organizations from Chile and Spain. Chilean NGO Un Techo Para Mi Pais (A Roof for my House) will return with more volunteers to help build temporary wooden houses for those that have since found themselves homeless and Spain has announced to donate $285,000 to the relief effort while also pledging to offer more help.

*According to a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization, nearly half of Guatemala’s children are suffering from malnutrition. The average number is 45.6%, where in rural areas where poverty is more common than not, the number jumps to 49.7%. Another recent study showed that of the nation’s population of 13 million, 52% are living in either poverty or extreme poverty.