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Daily News - 05 May 1998

Clinton names several ambassadors
President Clinton's choice for ambassador of the Dominican Republic was announced last week together with several other ambassadors. President Clinton nominated for the post, Puerto Rican born Mary Carmen Aponte. Other ambassadors were announced for Chile, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas and Mexico. Aponte, of Washington, is a lawyer and business consultant. She is bilingual in Spanish and English. It is reported that her top priority will be to secure the expatriation of Dominicans who have cases pending with the U.S. justice.

Barge to help improve electricity in Southwest
President Leonel Fernández traveled to Barahona to formally inaugurate the service of the Cayman Power Barge I, a floating ship with two power plants of 15 megawatts each. The power plant is near the Termoelectrica Barahona Uno, a power plant whose construction was started in the Balaguer administration, but for its completion there is no announced date.

Survey shows PRD leads, but PLD has gained
The 16-20 April survey of political preferences carried out by the Listín Diario and Sigma 2, a Spanish polling company, indicates that the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano is likely to obtain 51.6% of the congressional seats. The Partido de la Liberación Dominicana is in second place with 37.8% and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano is third with 9.4%. For the PLD this is a significant leap, as the party has just one senatorial position of 30, that of Salcedo. In addition, the PLD only has 12 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, of 120. The PRSC is majority in the Senate and the PRD is majority in the Chamber of Deputies.
The survey showed that the PRD continues to lead in Santo Domingo with 48% versus 42% of the PLD. Some 1,254 persons were polled from 16-20 April.
The senatorial candidate of Santo Domingo, Milagros Ortíz Bosch, has by far the voter's preference. The candidate for mayor of Santo Domingo, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, is the party's former candidate for President of the Republic in the 1996 election. Peña Gómez's health is failing, which is apparent from his physical appearance (he suffers from cancer). This circumstance seems to have favored the political campaign of his main opponent, Roberto Salcedo, who has gained percentage points recently. Salcedo, a TV producer and comedian-turned-politician for this campaign, says that the real candidate for mayor for the PRD is former congressman Johnny Ventura, better known as being one of the most popular merengue band leaders ever. Ventura, though, is not campaigning alongside Peña or Ortíz Bosch. Rather he is promoting his recently published biography.
Peña Gómez told journalist Asela Maria Lamarche, during an interview with Hoy newspaper regarding whether or not his health should be given priority, that his plans were to win first, and then he would decide what to do. Peña Gómez has said he would not be the PRD candidate for the year 2000 presidential elections, and that the party would choose its presidential candidate no later than February, 1999.

President Fernández on campaign
President Leonel Fernández campaigned in the southwest over the weekend, visiting Pedernales, Barahona, Azua, and Peravia provinces in support of the PLD candidates. Hoy reported that he was received enthusiastically wherever he went. In Baní, a young man handed him a bag of "mangos banilejos" (very tasty fruit). There were no incidents. President Fernández has campaigned with the slogan, "el león ruge," (the lion roars).

Opposition seeks to capitalize on violence
The opposition parties hope to capitalize on two deaths that occurred over the weekend, following violent incidents that are being linked to political campaigning, and pointed out as a sign of the government's intolerance and thus reason why they should not receive more seats in Congress.
President Leonel Fernández addressed the killings saying that no person can use political campaigning as a shield to achieve impunity from justice in the case of acts of violence.
Six PLD activists are being accused by the National Police for the brutal murder of Air Force General reservist Luís Santiago Pérez.
Press reports indicate that political activists called out offensive words to the university professor who was passing in his car through the Urbanización Tropical (near Metaldom), where the activists were pegging posters. Relatives say that he was brutally clobbered because he did not allow the PLD activists to peg a poster to his pickup. They say missing is RD$20,000 and a gun that he had with him at the time of assault.
Domingo Sabino and Fausto Martinez who were with him in the pickup said they had gone to the neighborhood to drop someone off. When they were leaving, they ran into a crowd of some 14 persons pegging PLD posters and one of them cried out something to the General. Then Santiago stopped the car, backed up, and that's where the discussion began that ended in his tragic death. The two said they tried to help Santiago, but ran for their lives escaping with only injuries.
Those arrested said they did not know Santiago Pérez, nor the men that were with him and that the discussion was not related to politics. The assault happened on Thursday, and the General died on Saturday at the Clínica Independencia.
The National Police is also investigating 24 persons for the death of 26-year old Moisés Núñez Merán on Sunday in Maquitería, Villa Duarte (Santo Domingo), reportedly when a caravan of the PLD was passing through the sector. Family members say he was shot by a PLD militant. Neighbors said that it all started when the driver of a red car speeding crashed into a motorcyclist, and was about to abandon the motorcyclist. Passersby, Núñez and friend Máximo Soriano, reprimanded the driver who then got mad and entered into a discussion that ended with the firing of gunshots that killed Núñez and injured Soriano. The neighbors say the incident had nothing to do with politics.
Chief of the Police, Aníbal Sanz Jiminián, has said that the Police will soon begin, together with the Armed Forces, a campaign to disarm the civilian population.

Luís Toral in the limelight
Three weeks ago, Luís Toral Córdova, a former governor of the Central Bank, and PRSC candidate for senator of Barahona, coined the phrase used by the opposition to criticize the government party. "Come sólo" is the catchy phrase that signifies that the PLD wants everything for themselves, without leaving anything for anyone else.
Last week, in another violent act during the campaign, his home in Barahona was raided, and his telephone line and electricity lines cut. Gunshots were also fired. Toral is running for senator on the PRSC ballot.

Will abstention be high?
The Listín Diario-Sigma 2 poll estimates that abstention during the congressional and municipal elections will be only 10% more than that registered during the 1996 presidential elections. Voter turnout in the Dominican Republic is unusually high, in part because voting is the thing to do on that day off. Voting, aside from civic duty and a chance to express one's conformity or disconformity with the present government, is a social event where the same people come together at the same voting stations and talk flows. A high abstention rate would favor the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, which has the largest following.

Who are we voting for?
Ana Mitila Lora, in a report in the Listín Diario, says that few Dominicans know who their congressional and municipal candidates are. The parties have refused requests from business organizations and Participación Ciudadana, a civic society group, to make known the curriculums of the candidates.
The journalist says that some of the candidates for congressmen are better known for press denouncements of corruption in office, primarily in regard to government land scandals. Such is the case with PRSC candidate Adriano Sánchez Roa, who is running to repeat in the province of Elías Piña; and PRSC candidate Amable Aristy Castro, who is likely to repeat as senator of La Altagracia province, and Antonio Feliz Pérez, PRSC senator for Pedernales, who has been in the press for his takeover of the Bahía de las Aguilas beach lands.
Ana Mitila Lora also mentions Fernando Villalona, the most popular merengue singer of all time, who once told the press he had spent over RD$30 million to purchase drugs for himself and friends, is now running for senator of Dajabón, also on the PRSC ticket.

Textile exports now more competitive
The Listín Diario reports that an important hurdle to the increase in Dominican textile exports to the United States has been eliminated. The U.S. government is no longer requiring the ITA-270-A form which delayed exports. Textile industries say that the elimination of the form will enable companies to fulfill orders faster, making Dominican exports more competitive.

Major gold mine on frontier with Haiti
The firm Geo Consult is about to finalize exploration works contracted by the Dominican government to determine the feasibility of the commercial exploitation of a gold mine in the frontier area. The mine is said to contain vast deposits of gold, silver and sulfur, making it the largest open pit mine in the Americas, and the third largest in the world. Reportedly, it can produce 3.5 grams of gold per ton. The RD$20 million study is expected to be completed by June. The gold mine is located in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the topic should be on the agenda of President Leonel Fernández when he travels to Haiti in June for conversations with President Rene Preval.

Save the trees
On occasion of the International Day of the Tree, the environment protection group, Organización Ecológica Infantil Mundo Verde spent a day caring for the trees on the Malecón, facing the Caribbean. Workers climbed trees to remove nails and screws, and posters of all sorts. The nails allowed contamination and salt spray which affected the trees.

Parents ask for release of names of other culprits
The parents of José Rafael Llenas Aybar, the 12-year old boy stabbed to death two years ago, requested that the lawyers of the two 18-year olds who have confessed their participation in the assassination reveal the names of others supposedly involved and who are not yet part of the judicial record.
The sixth grader's corpse was found in a brook near the countryside home where the Argentine ambassadors to the country at the time bred dogs. The husband and then 18-year old son of the Argentine Ambassador Teresa Meccía have been singled out as co-participants in the assassination and their extradition or trial in Argentina has been requested of the Argentine government.
A cousin of the boy, Mario José Redondo Llenas, has confessed to his participation in the killing, together with his high school friend Juan Manuel Moliné Rodríguez, but from the start, it has been said that other young Dominicans were involved. Even Mario José Redondo said so on TV, refraining from stating their names.
Jose Rafael Llenas, father of the victim, said, on occasion of the commemorative act of the second year of the assassination, that he is waiting for the lawyers to tell the press the names "so that all may fall, regardless of who they may be sons of." His wife, Ileana Aybar said, "We are waiting for justice and will continue waiting."
So far, only Redondo Llenas, Moliné Rodríguez and the Argentine diplomats have been publicly implicated. Nuria Piera in her recent investigative journalism TV program on Channel 9 showed Mario Redondo stating he had participated in drug packaging as part of the business of the ambassador's husband. Mario Redondo also revealed that he was present when the diplomat killed a Dominican, had sex with a man, and was forced to have sex with a man at gun point in the presence of the Argentine diplomat while he was filmed. Redondo said on TV that he should have allowed the Argentine to kill him instead of getting further involved.
Mario Redondo explained that he had aspired to make money fast, saw that his school friend Martin Palmas, son of the Argentines, was able to do so, and then got entangled in the Palmas family way of doing business.
The case is due for a hearing on 28 May at the Sixth Penal Chamber presided by Judge Julio Cesar Cano Alfau.
District Attorney Francisco Dominguez Brito said on 2 April that he would ask for the maximum penalty allowed by Dominican law - 30 years in jail - for those found guilty. Mario José Redondo Llenas and Juan Manuel Moliné Rodríguez have been in jail for two years now. In addition, the district attorney said that if it is proven that others are involved, he would do everything within his reach so that they may be prosecuted.

José Rafael, "the nation's son"
Father Milton Ruiz, preaching during the mass held at the Iglesia Cristo Salvador in the Honduras neighborhood, said that 12-year Jose Rafael Llenas Aybar had become "the nation's son."
The boy who "one day left his home as the son of the José Rafael Llenas and Ileana Aybar, overnight became the son of a nation calling out for justice," said Father Milton Ruiz during the mass held on occasion of the second anniversary of the boy's death.

DR wins Davis Cup round
The Dominican Republic won the Group III of the American Zone of the Davis Cup 1998 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The Dominican team defeated Costa Rica. Winning players were Johnson García and Rodrigo Vallejo. The captain of the team, Rafael Moreno, is a former winner of many Davis Cup games.

Gold in karate Pan Ams
Air Force corporal Santos Segundo Eusebio del Rosario gave the Dominican Republic its only medal, a gold, that was sufficient to rank the DR sixth among the 22 nations that participated in the weekend's Pan American Karate Championships. The championships were preparatory rounds for the Central American and Caribbean Games of Venezuela, the Pan American Sports of Canada and the World Karate Games. Del Rosario defeated world champion Dudley Josepa, Venezuelan Ricardo Perez and Mexican Alonzo Murayama to win the gold in the kumite open category. Last year, he had won a bronze medal in the championship held in Peru.
Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic, was host to delegations numbering 586 persons from 22 nations competing in 17 categories.
 
Standings (gold, silver, bronze medals):
 
Brazil 5 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze
U.S. 3 gold, 6 silver, 5 bronze
Cuba 3 gold, 1 silver
Venezuela 2 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze
Peru 2 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze
D.R. 1 gold
Honduras 1 gold
Mexico 1 silver, 6 bronze
Argentina 2 bronze
Colombia 2 bronze
Curacao 1 bronze

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