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Daily News - 09 March 1998

Pro participative democracy
President Leonel Fernández, in his National Dialogue (talks held with the participation of most sectors to define the national agenda through year 2000) closing speech, proclaimed the end of authoritarianism. The President expressed his concern that a new stage of democracy has come forth, where larger segments of the Dominican population are participating. The President is an advocate of "a participative democracy," versus a "representative democracy." In a nation where Congress has primarily responded to its own interests, the new style of democracy has its appeal.

Energy for animal cemeteries
The National Dialogue plenary approved the energy problem as the national priority to be tackled by the state, Congress and the Dominican society. The final conclusions of the event, written up in a document entitled "La Voluntad de la Nación" (the will of the nation) was dedicated to Dominican women, particularly to singles who head families. Among the conclusions is a proposal to modify the Constitution in order to allow a consecutive re-election of President. The delegates approved that a request be made to the Junta Central Electoral, the election organization, to place ballot boxes during the next 16 May municipal and congressional election, to enable voters to cast their opinion on the desirability of reforming the constitution to allow a re-election of the president. The proposal had been rejected by President Fernández, but his opinion was overridden by those attending.
The talks brought forth over 3,000 proposals, many important, but others strange, such as the need for the construction of a cemetery for street animals with provision for their cremation, the construction of a 380 km. electrical fence along the Haitian border; obligation for AIDS victims to wear a sticker on their private parts, and a proposal declaring the game domino as a national sport.

Pérez has no diplomatic status
David Viñuales, correspondent for the Listín Diario in New York, made interesting observations regarding the diplomatic status of Bienvenido Pérez, who is the Dominican consul in New York. The correspondent's observations follow an NBC short pointing out that the Dominican consul had not been accredited by the U.S. Government. As it turns out, Pérez would have to resign his U.S. residency in order to be accredited by the U.S. government as consul general in New York. This could explain the delay in seeking his accreditation. Pérez, who has been a legal resident in the United States for more than 10 years, has held the diplomatic post since August 1996. Despite his appointment, Pérez has not been able to take advantage of the tax exemptions that come with diplomatic status, and is therefore subject to paying U.S. income tax.

Heavy rains cause damage in northwest
The "El Niño effect" brought devastating heavy rains to Montecristi and other northwestern provinces, causing extensive damages to farming areas. Harvests of yucca, yam, bananas, beans, onions, tomatoes, tobacco, and rice were damaged.

Corruption case held up
The president of the Supreme Court, Dr. Jorge Subero Isa, told newspaper reporters that Attorney General Abel Rodriguez del Orbe is holding on to the case of the more than RD$90 million fraud against the government-owned National Lottery. Several former administrators are involved in the case, including the father and brother of the political party secretary of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), Federico "Quique" Antún. Dr. Subero Isa told newspaper reporters that the case has been retained at the Attorney General's office since 20 January 1998.

Jacinto Peynado is PRSC's ace card
Hoy newspaper reported that sectors of the PRSC are trying to convince former Vice President Jacinto Peynado to run for mayor on that party's ticket in the 16 May 1998 municipal election. The reports say that Peynado, who was the PRSC presidential candidate in the 1996 election, has said he is not too enthusiastic because his past experience is that, although his party nominates him, he has to fund his campaign. Peynado would be a strong contender against Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) and TV producer Roberto Salcedo, running for mayor for the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana. The PRSC has until 15 March to decide the candidate for mayor of Santo Domingo. Preliminary reports indicate that Miguel Sanz Jiminián, a three-time alderman of the city of Santo Domingo, won the primaries of the party. Sanz Jiminián is a son-in-law of Jacinto Peynado.

World Bank president visits D.R.
The president of the World Bank, James D. Wolfenshn, will meet with President Leonel Fernandez today. According to a report in the newspaper Hoy, on top of Wolfenshn's agenda is the Smith-Enron power plant issue. The International Finance Corporation, a division of the World Bank, is co-financier of the power plant in violation of two IFC requirements: that the project be the result of a tender and that the loan be guaranteed by the Dominican government. On 5-6 March in Mexico, two hearings in an international arbitrage court were held regarding the Smith-Enron plant. The controversy is over what the CDE says are demands for payment for installed capacity versus energy served.

Dredging saves Isabela River
The Navy is using its dredge to remove the lilacs covering the Isabela River that feeds the Ozama River, the main rivers of Santo Domingo. The lilacs (Eichonia Grassipes) are damaging the ecology of the rivers, causing the death and migration of fish. The lilac is capable of producing up to 70,000 plants that cover large extensions, impeding the photosynthesis process, which, in turn, results in the massive death of aquiferous species.

PRD splits candidacies to please members
To please its followers, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) is splitting congressional positions. The party would divide in two-year periods at least 30 congressional seats. The formula has been tried in the past, but it has not worked. Some 10 deputies elected in 1994, who supposedly agreed to hand their congressional seats to runner ups after a two year term, refused to do so when 1996 came around, alleging that this would violate the Constitution.

Mariah Carey here for a divorce
Singer and actress 28-year old Mariah Carey traveled to Santo Domingo to complete her divorce. She had been married for five years to Sony Music executive Tommy Mottola, who discovered her in an audition while she was a struggling waitresss in New York City and made her famous. Mottola fell in love with Carey and divorced his wife to marry her. The New York press says she maintains a close relationship with New York Yankee baseball player Derek Jeter. Carey is considered one of the best female voices, along with Whitney Houston.

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