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Daily News - 19 August 1998

World press coming to cover Caribbean Summit
Over 400 journalists, including 200 from around the world are in Santo Domingo to cover the Caribbean Summit this week. The chiefs of state from 14 English-speaking Caribbean countries, President Rene Garcia Preval of Haiti and President Fidel Castro of Cuba will gather in Santo Domingo as of tomorrow to discuss issues on the Caribbean agenda. Fidel Castro is expected to be the focus of much of the attention.

Cuban agenda of Fidel Castro's visit
Cuban consul general in the Dominican Republic, Miguel Pérez Cruz says that foremost on the list of priorities of the Cuban delegation is the strengthening of that country's ties with the neighboring Cuba also seeks more direct access to Europe. Cuba was recently granted observer status in Cariforum, the organization that groups countries that are signatories of the Lomé IV Agreement and that is meeting in Santo Domingo. The agreement permits duty free exports to the European Union. The Caribbean initiate negotiations for a new treaty in September of this year. The new treaty will be in effect as of year 2000.

Final revisions being made to Caribbean free trade treaty
The Dominican negotiating team is giving a final read to the free trade agreement that will be signed on Saturday by the 14 Caribbean Community member nations. The agreement will be signed in English and in Spanish. Seven rounds of negotiations and similar numbers of technical rounds preceded the conclusion of the paper. The Caribbean Community agreed to present a single list of products that will be exempted from the duty free treatment in exchange for the Dominican Republic eliminating the requirement of the consular invoice for its exports to the DR.
The DR is also granting privileged treatment to the smaller Caribbean economies.

There is all to gain with free trade agreement
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre has said that the free trade agreement that will be signed on Saturday, 22 August between the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Dominican Republic opens up a market of seven million consumers. This market is considered to have one of the highest buying powers in the Western Hemisphere.
Latorre favors the economic, social and political integration the treaty will bring to the region.
The free trade agreement provides a framework for the promotion of investments, and creates an area of free trade for goods and services.
The agreement will be signed at the closing of the Caribbean Summit that will take place at the Jaragua Renaissance Hotel in Santo Domingo.
President Leonel Fernández will sign for the Dominican Republic. St. Lucia Prime Minister, who is the president of the Caricom, will sign representing that Caribbean trade block.
Minister of Foreign Relations Latorre says that the agreement is a trascendental step towards economic integration of the region and that it will contribute to the Dominican Republic's recovering the large market share of the goods and services trade the country had during the first half of the century. At that time, Dominican sailboats distributed much of the produce consumed in the Caribbean.
Latorre has said a tentative agenda of seven points will be discussed. On the agenda is the following:
Post Lomé negotiations of Asian, Caribbean and Pacific and European Union countries.
The Free Trade Area, Caribbean relations with the US and the Caribbean Basin Initiative.
The strategic alliance of Caricom and Central America.
The Caribbean at the start of the new millenium, with positions to be set regarding globalization, democracy, gobernability and social demands of the region, sustainability, environment and economic development with equity.
Position before the Summit of the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean set for Rio de Janeiro in May 1999
The Forum of Negotiations of the United States and Caribbean and DR in January 1999
Preparation of a joint declaration on the meeting.
 
The schedule:
Thursday, 20 August
2-5 pm. Arrival of the heads of states
8:30 pm. Welcome reception at the National Palace
 
Friday, 21 August
9:30 am Opening session
Salon Anacaona, Hotel Jaragua
9:45 am First working session
Salon, Anacaona, Hotel Jaragua
10:50 coffee break
11:10 am Continuation of work session
1 pm Working lunch at the Vesuvio Restaurant
3 pm. Second work session
4:50 pm coffee break
5:10 pm. Continuation of the 2nd work session
8:30 pm Artistical show to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Caricom
Santo Domingo Country Club
9:30 pm Private dinner offered by President Leonel Fernandez to onor the visiting chief of state of Caricom
Santo Domingo Country Club
 
Saturday, 22 August
10 am Closing ceremony of the Cariforum meeting
10:05 am Signing of the Free Trade Agreement between DR and Caricom
Hotel Jaragua
10:30 am Closing of the Event
11:30 am Press conference
Hotel Jaragua
12:20 pm. Official photo taking at the Museo de las Casas Reales.
12:45 pm Chiefs of states commemorate the 500th anniversary of the city of Santo Domingo at the Museo de las Casas Reales
1:30 pm. Luncheon to commemorate the 500 years of the city at the Museo de las Casas Reales
4 pm. Departure to the Las Americas International Airport

Central American free treaty impasse
The Dominican government said yesterday that the failure of Central American nations to present a unified list of products that would be exempt from duty free treatment has brought about an impasse in the completion of Dominican-Central American free trade negotiations. The Presidents of Central America in April of this year signed a free trade agreement with the President of the Dominican Republic. Now, the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Costa Rica is proposing a change in what the Presidents then agreed upon.
As a result, the Dominican delegation that had traveled to Guatemala City from 12-13 and 14 August chose to discontinue talks and return to the DR for consultations.
Freddy Emam-Zadé, chief negotiator, maintains that the position of the DR is that it will only negotiate with a block of nations and not bilaterally.
"The Dominican Republic found itself before five countries that among themselves couldn't agree on the products that would be part of the list," said Carlos Despradel, spokesman for the Association of Industries of the Dominican Republic and a member of the negotiating committee in a press conference.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Luis Manuel Bonetti concurred that Costa Rica proposed that each country present its own negative list and negotiate individually with the DR. The position is held by Anabelle González, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Costa Rica and a member of the gabinet of the new government. She is a newcomer to the negotiations as she had not participated in the previous rounds held to structure the free trade agreement. Her participation has broken the harmony in negotiations that existed among the DR, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.
Minister Bonetti said that the negotiating teams agreed to meet again in 30 days. The round will be held in Santo Domingo during which a final agreement is expected to be reached.

PRD threatens to hand pick judges of electoral court
The senators of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano and Acuerdo de Santo Domingo met yesterday to debate who the Senate will name to direct the organization of the year 2000 presidential elections. Bautista Rojas Gómez, spokesman for the government party, criticized the announced intention to impose PRD candidates at the helm of the Junta Central Electoral, the nation's electoral court. A formula whereby the judges were chosen by a consensus among the leading political parties led to the success of the 1996 presidential elections organization and that of the 1998 congressional elections.

New minister of agriculture
President Leonel Fernández appointed Amilcar Romero as his new minister of agriculture. Amilcar is a known Partido Reformista Social Cristiano director. In a past PRSC government, then President Joaquín Balaguer appointed him to manage the state agriculture bank, Banco Agrícola, and to serve as minister of agriculture. Amilcar also served as general administrator of the state electricity utility during Balaguer's days in government. Amilcar is a graduate agronomist who has worked with the Ferquido fertilizer company.
In the reshuffling of the cabinet, the President removed three PRSC members - Jimmy García from the National Sugar Institute (INAZUCAR), José González Sánchez, who was consul in Panama and Rafaela Alburquerque, who served as consul in Belgium, and was elected to serve in Congress this year. President Fernández also removed TV producer Miledy de Cabral from her post as consul in Holland.

President's father sent to Panama
President Leonel Fernández is sending his father to Panama as the new Dominican consul general. His father, former military José Antonio Fernández Collado, replaces José González Sánchez, who held the post since the days of the Balaguer administration. Press reports explain that the President chose to remove his father from his post as director of the Dominican Port Authority to release him of the tensions of the post that were affecting his health.

Audit shows irregularities in Lomé office
The Dominican government Corruption Prevention Department is studying the case presented by Max Puig, who is in charge of the Lomé IV for the Dominican government. Puig has documented irregularities that occurred during his predecessor's Angel Lockward's administration of the Lomé IV office. Lockward is a director within the opposition party, the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC). The attorney general's office presented to the corruption department the case that indicates that Lockward irregularly allotted RD$11.2 million. According to press reports, of the moneys, RD$4.7 million were redirected to the Ministry of Education for remodeling works. The program was not contemplated in the plans of the Lomé IV office as an audit of the organization showed.

More on the internal problems of the PRD
Hoy newspaper reports on a new development in the internal problems within the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, the largest opposition party. Reportedly, while no official statement was issued, members of the Federación de Mujeres Socialdemócratas, the political body head by Peggy Cabral, the widow of former PRD leader, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, left the meeting abruptly, crying out and warning the board that if the widow is expelled from the party, they would take actions that would "break up the party." Press sources say that the meeting discussed the participation of Peggy Cabral in discussions that lead to the re-election of Hector Peguero Méndez as president of the Chamber of Deputies. Peggy Cabral did not attend the board meeting.
Peggy Cabral was shown on TV the previous evening saying that the re-elected president of the Chamber of Deputies should not use the name of her late husband in his political activities. Peguero Méndez is calling his group of 10 deputies the Bloque Peñagomista. Peggy Cabral denies she supported the split within the party.

DR continues to win medals in Central American games
The Dominican Republic won three silvers and a bronze in the judo competitions held yesterday as part of the Central American and Caribbean Sports Games. Altagracia Contreras, Andrea Hernández and José Geraldino only lost to Cuba. DR, with 47 medals, is in the seventh place behind Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Suriname.

Great day for Pedro Martínez
Pedro Martínez had a great day yesterday and won his 16th victory so far this season in the Boston Red Sox versus Texas Rangers game held at Fenway Park. Boston defeated the Rangers, 4-1. Martínez is a strong contender to repeat as a winer of the Cy Young award. His closest competitors are Yankees' David Wells and David Cone.

More NBA stars come for golf tournament
A long list of present and past NBA stars will be playing in the Pro Players Celebrity Invitational to be held in the Playa Dorada golf course. The event is scheduled for 19-23 August in Puerto Plata resort complex's Robert Trent Jones' designed golf course. The list of celebrities includes:
James Worthy (formerly with the Los Angeles Lakers), Damon Stoudamire, (Toronto Raptors); Olden Polinyce (Sacramento Kings); Mike Brown (Phoenix Suns); James Robinson (Los Angeles Clippers). Also Erick Strickland and Samaki Walker (Dallas), Aksi Halen Rose (Indiana Pacers), Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs); Otis Thorpe (Houston Rockets); Dale Ellis (Seattle Supersonics); Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons); Charles Brakley (Houston Rockets); Michael Finley, Jason Kidd (Dallas); Xavier McDaniel (Charlotte);
Lloyd Vaught (Los Angeles Clippers); Scott Burrell (Chicago Bulls). Former Dominican Major League baseball players, George Bell, Rico Carty, Pedro Guerrero, Julián Javier, Mario Soto, Osvaldo Virgil, Alfredo Griffin and Miguel Diloné will also play.

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