CLS Strategies is handling Aruba's international communications push to manage the financial reputation of the Dutch-ruled Caribbean island and position it as a "serious partner in business," according to the DC firm's engagement letter.

arubaFitch Ratings dealt a blow to Aruba's financial image, cutting its debt ratings July 23 to a notch about junk status. It reacted to the revamp of Valero Energy's Aruba refinery, which has scaled back its output

Aruba finance minister Juan David Yrausquin issued a statement, rapping the Fitch report as failing to depict the country's "true economic picture.

Aruba also has been tussling with Venezuela over its decision to detain Venezuela's former chief of military intelligence, who is wanted on US drug charges. It claims Venezuela sent two warships near Aruba's coast and threatened to cut commercial air links. Venezuela trails only the US in sending vacationers to Aruba. The jailed spy was released and returned to Venezuela on July 27.

CLS charges Aruba an hourly rate, ranging from $595 (partner) to $175 (associate).

The contract automatically extends for successive one-month periods until a written notice of termination is issued. Yrausquin inked CLS' engagement letter.

CLS, which is part of Omnicom, is the former Chlopak Leonard Schechter & Associates.