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Daily News - 21 August 1998

Cariforum meeting opens in Santo Domingo
With the participation of the Dominican Republic and 15 other countries from the Caribbean, President Leonel Fernández inaugurated the Special Meeting of Chiefs of State and Governments of Cariforum at the Renaissance Jaragua Hotel at 9 am. This is the first time that the Presidents of Cuba, Haiti and English-speaking Caribbean nations meet for a Caribbean Summit.
Work sessions, that will primarily discuss regional trade strategy, began at 9:45 am. Cariforum countries are signatories of the Lomé IV Convention with the European Union that has served as a channel for the distribution of aid and to facilitate trade between Europe and the region. The Ministry of Foreign Relations said in a press release that Cariforum has evolved and today coordinates relations between the Caribbean and the European Union. Post Lome IV negotiations begin in September, for a new agreement that must be established by year 2000. The Caribbean Summit will conclude with the historic signing of a free trade agreement between the Dominican Republic and CARICOM on Saturday, 22 August at 10 am.

President of Haiti visits
President Leonel Fernández received his colleague René García Preval of Haiti at the Las Americas International Airport. This is his second visit to the Dominican Republic as President of Haiti. Last June, President Fernández made a state visit to Haiti.
The President of Haiti arrived at 2:30 pm accompanied by his First Lady Gurrda Preval, Minister of Foreign Relations Fritz Longchamps, and chief of cabinet Francois Severin, among others. He was received with military honors and then met with President Fernández for 40 minutes in the Ambassadors Hall of the Airport.
President René García Preval visited the Expo Haiti 98 on his first day in the DR. "I reiterate the good will of my government to work with you (referring to Dominican and Haitian businessmen Dominican), to resolve the problems and obstacles so that together with the Dominican authorities we can facilitate relations between both nations and the foster development in benefit of our peoples," he said, when speaking at the exhibition. The exhibition is taking place at the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce in the Colonial City.

Carrington: Caribbean nations favor admission of Cuba to Lomé
Edwin Carrington, Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the nations of the Caribbean favor the entrance of Cuba to the European Union's Lomé Convention. Carrington said that while the European Union members would like to see changes in Cuba, conditions were not set when the island was admitted as an observer. Carrington said that members of the European Union hope that the support received will encourage Castro to make domestic adjustments.
Regarding Haiti's entrance into CARICOM, Carrington explained that if Haiti is admitted with full rights, it would need to initiate negotiations with the Dominican Republic in order to participate in the free trade agreement the DR will sign with that trade block on Saturday, 22 August, at the end of the Cariforum meetings.

PRD Senate hand-picks new board of the JCE
The Senate appointed five new members and their replacements to the Junta Central Electoral, the body that organizes the presidential, congressional and municipal elections in the Dominican Republic. The Partido Reformista Social Cristiano and the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, minority in the Senate, abandoned the session in which the PRD chose the new JCE board members. The spokesman for the PLD said that the PRD proposal for judges should first have been sent to the Justice Commission of the Senate for discussion.
The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano has 24 of the 30 senators.
The PRD senators voted for renown PRD lawyer, Dr. Manuel Ramón Morel Cerda, to preside the JCE. National District Senator Milagros Ortíz Bosch did not vote in favor of the new president of the JCE, nor of his substitute, Dr. Jaime Shanlatte. These were elected with 24 of the 30 possible votes.
Other judges chosen in yesterday's session were lawyers Salvador Ramos, Ana Teresa Pérez, and Luís Ramón Cordero. Their substitutes are Luis Arias, Luis Mera Alvarez, Carmen Amelia Cedeño, Víctor Manuel Peña Féliz and Alfredo Regalado Lamarche.
The outgoing president of the Junta Central Electoral, Dr. Juan Sully Bonelly regretted the decision to name the judges without consultations with the other political parties nor with the sectors that represent Dominican society. This formula was behind the successful organization of the presidential elections in 1996.
"It is regrettable that there was not consensus in the election of the judges," he said. He said there are two persons, Luis Arias and Ana Teresa Pérez that worked closely with the members of the JCE and deserved the position. "The composition of the JCE is a very delicate matter in which consensus should have been reached."
The Fundación Institucionalidad y Justicia (Finjus) and its executive director Eduardo Jorge Prats praised the appointment of the new board of the JCE.
The Asociación de Jóvenes Empresarios (ANJE) criticized the decision, saying that consensus building and dialogue should have prevailed.
The spokesman for the deputies of the PRD Rafael Taveras supported the choice. Nevertheless, senators Amable Aristy Castro (PRSC-La Altagracia) and Bautista Antonio Rojas Gómez (PLD-Salcedo) accused the PRD of bringing to the JCE judges that respond to their particular interests.
News commentator Alfredo Freites said that what had occurred was a case of "eye for eye, tooth for tooth," a showing of little political maturity.
Fellow news commentator Ramón Colombo said that while it is a political vendetta, this was understandable. "No one is obliged to 'put forward the other cheek.' " He explained they were responding to the PLD choosing, with the support of the PRSC, the five members of Cámara de Cuentas, the body that revises the execution of the National Budget by the government. The PRD now imposes the judges of the JCE.

Who are the new judges?
The Listín Diario and Hoy newspapers published the bios of the new judges of the JCE. These are:
Manuel Ramón Morel Cerda, president. Born in Santiago. Professor of criminal law at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo since 1969. He was attorney general during the government of Héctor García-Godoy (Gobierno Constitucionalista) in 1965; District Attorney during the 1963 constitutional regime; attorney of the Court of Appeals of San Cristóbal in 1962. On four separate periods, he presided the Dominican Association of Lawyers. He gained notoriety as a member of the defense bar of former President Salvador Jorge Blanco during the trial for corruption held as of 1986.
Luís Ramón Cordero. Born 17 April 1930 in La Vega. Doctor in law, a graduate of the Universidad de Santo Domingo. Advisor to the Listín Diario newspaper. President of Radio Listín. Founder of the Hoy, El Nacional newspapers in which he held executive positions. Vice president and president of the Dominican Professional Baseball League. Member of the Permanent Committee of the Dominican Sports Hall of Fame. Member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank. La Vega city municipality alderman. Attorney general for the Duarte province. Judge of the Superior War Council of the Armed Forces.
Salvador Ramos. Lawyer, dean of the Law and Political Sciences School of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo where he studied. He was a substitute at the JCE.
Luis Arias. Expert in international law. Studied law in the Soviet Union. Dean of the Law and Political Sciences School of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. He was a substitute at the JCE.
Ana Teresa Pérez
President of the JCE board of the National District since 1996. Masters in electoral law. She has practiced law and has taught for 11 years at the Universidad Iberoamericana.

New committee to follow up privatization of ports
President Leonel Fernández appointed a committee to follow up on the process to privatize the maritime and air ports of the country. The members of the committee are: TV producer Freddy Beras Goico, lawyer Jottin Cury, journalist Ramón Bonaparte Gautreaux, the president of the Colegio Dominicano de Ingenieros, Arquitectos y Agrimensores, Alejandro Montás and Reverend Braulio Portes.
The committee seeks to guarantee that there is transparency in the selection of those to benefit from the concessions to be granted by the government. The government is considering privatization including contract management or long- term lease, not sale. Airports to be privatized are the Las Americas, Herrera, Gregorio Luperón in Puerto Plata, María Montez in Barahona and Arroyo Barril in Samana. La Romana and Punta Cana have been privately owned since their first opening and are very successful operations.
The government estimates that investments of more than RD$2,300 million are necessary to expand and improve Dominican airports, and the state seeks to attract private capital to make the necessary investments. The government seeks to improve operating efficiency and airport revenues, as well as airport amenities with the privatization.
The committee was appointed after the World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank objected how the government was going about the privatization of the ports.
The executive director of the Dominican Port Authority, which overseas maritime ports, was recently removed in the government cabinet shuffling of 16 August.

Mayor Ventura wants new contract with Dixi
Mayor Johnny Ventura accused the Dixi Sanitary, that has a contract for collecting garbage in Santo Domingo, of being the main obstacle to a garbage-free city. The new mayor requested that President Leonel Fernández rescind the contract with the company. He said he promised voters a clean city and will not be shamed. The Listín Diario explained that the conflict revolves around the refusal of the company to limit its area and permit the equipment of the Municipality and other private companies to collect garbage, making the service more efficient. The Listín reports that Dixi wants a monopoly of the service throughout the National District. Ventura said that translates into: "let's let the city be full of garbage for several months as we wait for them to be in capacity to render the service."
The Mayor has proposed that Dixi limit its garbage collecting to 1,000 tons a day and reduce its perimeter of action, in view of the lack of efficiency the company has shown regards to garbage collecting. He explained he is not proposing a reduction in the moneys paid. Dixi's contract reportedly obliges the company to deposit at the Duquesa garbage dump 1,700 tons per day. The municipality says that the company is only capable of collecting 1,100 tons.

Viagra can now be sold openly in DR
The Ministry of Public Health authorized the sale here of Viagra, the male sexual stimulant. Fertilizantes Químicos Dominicanos represents Pfizer Labs in the DR and will distribute the pill to Dominican pharmacies. The drug had been available clandestinely.

Tropical Storm Bonnie will not affect DR
Tropical Storm Bonnie is the second potential hurricane to affect the Caribbean. The storm had sustained winds of 85 kph, and if it maintains its West-Northwest-Track will past north of the Dominican Republic in direction of the southeastern Bahamas and its impact will be minimal. The storm was moving at 35 km/hr, but a decrease in forward speed but at the same time a strengthening of the storm was forecast. At 8 am, the storm was located near latitude 20.2 North, longitude 64.6 West, or about 240 kilometers northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. For updates on this tropical storm, check http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet/tropical.html

Cuban art shown in Santo Domingo
The Galería de Arte Nader is presenting an exhibition of Wifredo Lam, the renown Cuban artist who lived several years in Paris. In addition, the Dominican Gallery located at Rafael Augusto Sánchez St. in Piantini presents an exhibition of several of the better Dominican artists, including Rafael Alba, Candido Bidó, Dionisio Blanco, Antonio Guadalupe, Marianela Jiménez, Clara Ledesma, Domingo Liz, Silvano Lora, Teté Marella, Virgilio Méndez, Elsa Núñez, Miguel Núñez José Perdomo, Guillo Pérez, Antonio Prats-Ventós, Enriquillo Rodríguez Amiama, Amaya Salzar, Mariano Sánchez, Jorge Severino, Justo Susana, Amable Sterling and Iván Tovar.

DR wins gold in karate in Central American Games
The Dominican Republic won another gold yesterday, bringing to 58 its medal tally in the Central American and Caribbean Sports Games taking place in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Sterling Félix Méndez of the Dominican karate team won the gold in the 75 kilogram category. Cuban Jose Saragoza was second, and Arturo Mitchel, Panama, third. The DR won eight medals yesterday, four in karate, two in judo, one in gymnastics another in track and field. The most medals the DR has won in the Central American and Caribbean Games is 65 in the Games held in Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city of the Dominican Republic. Cuba leads the medal count with 294 medals followed by Mexico with 200, Venezuela 163, Colombia 110, Puerto Rico 64, and Surinam 8 and the DR 58.

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