Chile: Strong Aftershocks follow Tuesday’s Earthquake: Chilean authorities are evaluating the impact of Tuesday’s earthquake, which killed six people and led to the preventative evacuation of more than a million as a precautionary measure against a possible tsunami. The earthquake, which measured 8.2 on the Richter scale, hit the very north of Chile, close to the cities of Arica and Iquique, on Tuesday night, causing flooding and fires, as well as structural damage to dozens of buildings. The initial quake has been followed by aftershocks, one of which measured 7.6 yesterday, its epicentre being in the Pacific some 200km from the coastal city of Iquique. President Michelle Bachelet visited the region yesterday, and said that water and power had been restored to most of the areas affected, although two small towns remain stranded as eight roads are still impassable after they suffered massive structural damage and rockslides as a result of the earthquake. Experts are warning that aftershocks may continue for some time.
Costa Rica: Campaigning Closes ahead of Presidential Run-Off: Polls and campaigning officially ended today ahead of Sunday’s second-round presidential election in Costa Rica, which will define who will rule the country until 2018. In 2nd February’s first round, none of the presidential candidates obtained the 40% needed to avoid a run off, which meant frontrunners Luis Guillermo Solís of Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC), who obtained 30.8% of the votes, will face Johnny Araya Monge, of the incumbent Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN), who obtained 29.6%. In an unusual twist, Johnny Araya pulled out of the race at the start of March, as it seemed Solís had an unsurmountable lead in the polls, but a few days later his party said he would continue running. In Costa Rica, where voting is obligatory, a candidate is unable to pull out of the second round of an election. However, polls indicate that Solís will win the election, and it is said that the social-democrat is already putting his cabinet together.
Haiti: Broad Restructuring of Cabinet Announced: Haitian prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, announced yesterday a restructuring of his cabinet, which will involve almost half of the ministers. Via Twitter, Lamothe announced that ten of the ministries would see a change in leadership, citing the restructuring as necessary to achieve political backing in the midst of negotiations about the delayed municipal and parliamentary elections which should take place before the end of the year. Among those involved in the reshuffle are the Economy, Interior, Foreign, Defence, and Education ministries.
Haiti is also celebrating having reached historic accords with the Dominican Republic in various areas, including immigration, work, environment, agriculture, and tourism sectors. This comes after the neighbouring countries’ ties hit an historic low last year, when the Dominican Republic controversially stripped citizenship from those born to undocumented immigrants, a ruling that affected Haitians inthe most part.