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Daily News - 25 August 1998

Tropical weather update
A strong tropical wave has swept over the Dominican Republic with sustained winds, and heavy rain.
The tropical wave does not any direct relation to Hurricane Danielle, the fourth in the Atlantic Basin area. Hurricane Danielle moves West-Northwest and is gaining strength. At 11 am AST, the center of Danielle was located near Latitude 16.5 North, Longitude 44.2 West, East of the Lesser Antilles. Danielle is moving toward the WNW near 21 mph (33 km/hr), and this motion is expected to continue today and tomorrow.
Nevertheless, atmospheric conditions forecasted above the islands could inhibit Danielle's curving towards the north, this means that the storm is forecasted to go straight for the NE Islands (Antigua, Barbuda, St. Maarten, etc.) Danielle could be there by Friday with winds increased to minimal hurricane strength.
Danielle was upgraded at 11 am to hurricane category after satellite images indicated that the tropical storm had developed a an eye suggesting that the system has strengthened. Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph and fast strengthening, with these expected to reach 104 mph in 48 hours. Minimum central pleasure has dropped to 987 mb. A continued strengthening is forecast and the hurricane is expected to turn a little more to the West as the ridge builds to the north. A hurricane watch may be called for portions of the northern Leeward islands as early as tonight or Wednesday.
For more information, link to http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet/tropical.html

Political parties negotiating?
Hoy newspaper reported that negotiations are taking place between the political parties for the election of a new board of the Chamber of Deputies, new members of the Chamber of Accounts, and a new board of the Junta Central Electoral, the electoral court. The PRSC and PLD joined forces with dissident forces to elect a board of the Chamber of Deputies that irritated the PRD majority. Earlier this month too, the PLD joined forces with the PRSC to hand-pick members of the Chamber of Accounts, that revises the execution of government funds. In response, the PRD, which is in majority in the Senate, hand-picked the judges that make up the electoral court. In the past, election organization was chaotic precisely because of the hand-picking of the judges by one of the involved parties. This was surpassed on occasion of the organization of the 1996 presidential election, when a consensus between the civic society and political parties was reached that brought about the successful organization of those elections.

Peguero Méndez suggests not funding JCE
The President of the Chamber of Deputies, Hector Peguero Méndez, the dissident PRD politician who won the presidency with the support of the PRSC and the PLD, has come up with what the press describes as a "genius" suggestion. His suggestion: The Executive Branch should not fund the money to pay for the new judges of the JCE that were hand-picked by the PRD.

Peynado says politics is big business
Former Vice President of the Republic and presidential candidate, Jacinto Peynado said yesterday that politics is big business in the DR. He was referring to the confrontations between the PRD, PLD and PRSC politicians, following the election of Héctor Rafael Peguero Méndez to the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies, the members of the Chamber of Accounts and the judges of the JCE.
"All that is only good for business, that is what politics is, business, business for those that are in it, for the PLD, for the PRSC, for the PRD, for those who should be in jail and are not, it is all business and the poor country... can fend for itself," he said.
He said that the election of the judges of the JCE is irreversible. That what those judges have to do now is gain the credibility of the people. He is contrary to the reversal of actions. He asked, "A consensus of whom, of Balaguer, Leonel and Esquea? Do those represent the people," he asked. In his opinion, "No, they do not represent anyone."
He said that as a citizen he considers himself an outsider of those three political parties, as he feels their directors do not act correctly, and he prefers to not lie to the Dominican people.

New JCE president asks Dominicans to not prejudge
The new president of the Junta Central Electoral, Ramon Morel Cerda, guaranteed that he would act with independence of criteria and with the best interest of the Dominican people and Dominican democracy. Morel Cerda visited the press and asked the Dominican society to not pre-judge them, and wait to judge them by their acts.

PRD lawyers say congressional decisions are illegal
Lawyers and politicians of the PRD placed a recourse before the Supreme Court of Justice requesting that that high court declare the laws that institute the Judicial Career, that established an age limit and working years for judges and the National Council of the Magistracy (that chooses the Supreme Court of Justice) illegal as they contradict the Constitution. Dr. Virgilio Bello Rosa, representing the PRD said that the law violates articles 4, 23, 63, 67, 107 and 46 of the Constitution. Supreme Court president, Dr. Jorge Subero Isa has publicly expressed his strong disagreement with the new Judicial Career Law.

Good bye to Fidel Castro
President Leonel Fernández and Vice President Jaime David Fernández were at the Las Americas International Airport to see Cuban President Fidel Castro off at 6 pm. Castro came for the three-day Special Meeting of Heads of State and Governments of Cariforum, and then stayed on for a two-day state visit. The charismatic and very talkative totalitarian ruler of Cuba, Castro bid Dominicans farewell with his hand on the heart. Fidel Castro's presence in the DR and his travels throughout the country caused traffic jams and received full coverage in the press, such as occurred on occasion of the visit of Pope John Paul II.

Statement of Santo Domingo
On occasion of the celebration of the Special Meeting of Heads of State and Government of Cariforum in Santo Domingo, 20-22 August, the following statement, "Statement of Santo Domingo" was issued summarizing the conclusions of the gathering. Here it is reproduced in full in its English version:

The Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM), the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and leaders of delegation of Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
HAVING MET in special session in Santo Domingo de Guzman, the capital of the Dominican Republic, from the 20-22 August 1998, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the founding of Santo Domingo de Guzman and the 25th anniversary of the Caribbean Community;
HAVING WELCOMED His Excellency Dr. Fidel Castro, President of the Republic of Cuba, as a Special Invitee to their meeting;
RECOGNISING the historic and significant convocation for the first time of such a Summit in the Dominican Republic;
RECOGNISING ALSO the contribution of the Lomé Convention to the formal establishment of the Caribbean Forum in 1992 and the need to strengthen this relationship as a means to promote regional cooperation and integration;
REAFFIRMING on this historic occasion of the first CARIFORUM Summit in the Dominican Republic, our commitment to the principles and
objectives enshrined in the Georgetown Agreement which led to the establishment of the ACP Group in 1975;
CONSCIOUS that this Summit is being held at a timely moment given the forthcoming commencement of negotiations between the ACP countries and the European Union on a successor arrangement to the current ACP-EU Lomé Convention and that new ACP-EU Agreement must build on the acquis of the Lomé Convention; RECALLING the commitment and decisions of the Libreville Declaration which has among its valued and fundamental aspects those of unity and solidarity of the ACP Group and its retention as a single entity;
HAVING ENGAGED in discussions characterised by a spirit of friendship, cordiality and mutual respect;
DECLARED their pleasure to have participated in the historic celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the founding of the city of Santo Domingo de Guzman and in the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Caribbean Community;
EXPRESSED their gratitude for the warm welcome and generous hospitality offered by the Government and the people of the Dominican Republic;
ACKNOWLEDGED the importance of the progress achieved and achievable through the mechanism of political dialogue, cooperation, and consultation aimed at improving the destiny of the Region and at deepening the processes of democratisation, respect for fundamental human rights and freedom, good governance, economic and social developments and the strengthening of regional integration;
DECLARED their ongoing commitment to the strengthening of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), as a mechanism for consultations, and cooperation in furtherance of growth and development in the Region, welcomed the convocation of the second ACS Summit in 1999, and noted the offer of the Dominican Republic to host such a Summit;
REAFFIRMED their conviction of the important role of democracy in preserving peace, harmony, mutual respect, and in fostering the development of nations and their adhesion to good governance and transparency, further recognising the strong links existing between these factors and economic development;
REITERATED their commitment to the norms of international law, as established in the Charters of the United Nations, and the Organisation of American States;
VIEWED with serious concern that foreign debt continues to limit the development capacity of their nations by constraining the social investment so necessary to achieve the peace and stability required for the Region's development;
RECOGNISED that the phenomenon of globalisation presents a challenge for the Caribbean Region requiring fundamental changes in the economies and the development process of the Region while increasing the risk of marginalisation for smaller, more vulnerable economies;
RECOGNISED ALSO the important role of the World Trade Organisation in international trade and expressed their continuing concern that the benefits of globalisation and trade liberalisation be equitably distributed;
REITERATED their determination to actively participate in the
negotiations for the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the
Americas, in order to ensure the incorporation of the interest of
smaller economies and their full participation in the process;
WELCOMED the signing of the Agreement establishing the Free Trade Area between the Caribbean Community and the Dominican Republic which will serve not only to increase opportunities for trade in goods and services, and investment between both parties, but also to strengthen the traditional bonds of friendship that exist within the region;
FURTHER WELCOMED the forthcoming European Union/Latin America and Caribbean Summit, which will serve to establish guidelines for future relations between the two Regions and to determine the impact of the relationship on the wider international environment. They requested the assistance of SELA in preparing CARIFORUM's delegations for effective participation in the Summit;
NOTED with the greatest interest, the proposal by the Dominican Republic for a Strategic Alliance between the Caribbean and Central America which could influence overall development strategy by helping to enhance competitiveness and economic growth, strengthen the productive and technological capacity of the Region, attract foreign investment and help in coordinating trade policies in the various international arrangements in which they participate;
REVIEWED their strategy with regard to the following:
Negotiations of a Post Lomé IV Agreement The Heads of State and Government exchanged views on the process of preparation for their countries' participation in the negotiations for Post Lomé IV relationship with the European Union.
They agreed that the ACP mandate for the Post Lomé IV negotiations should be based on the fundamental principles that have sustained the previous Conventions, with a principal objective including economic growth grounded in peace, security and stability, food security, the elimination of poverty and the participation of the wider civil society. They highlighted the importance of maintaining an open and balanced political dialogue. The Heads of State and Government maintained that future financial and technical cooperation should continue to be implemented in a manner supportive of the development strategy of the ACP States. Likewise in view of the rapid liberalisation of international trade, it will be necessary for ACP States to be granted a reasonable period of transition to enable them to improve their competitiveness. The duration of that transition should depend on the level of development of the different regions and countries. It should also provide for maintaining a non-reciprocal preferential system during that transition period, thus allowing for a more realistic transition that will facilitate a better adaptation of their economies.
They reaffirmed the importance of providing within the post-Lomé IV Convention, arrangements to facilitate investment in ACP States and for private sectors of those countries to generally play a greater role in the new ACP/EU relationships.

In recognising the particular significance of Cuba's place at the Summit, as a member of the Caribbean family, the Heads of State and Government looked forward to Cuba's full membership and eventual participation in post-Lomé IV arrangements and in this connection they affirmed Cuba's immediate participation in the Working Group of Caribbean Ambassadors in Brussels.

Caribbean/North America Relations
The Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their commitment to the decisions of the Caribbean/US Summit of Bridgetown, Barbados, May 1997 as enshrined in the Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean. With regard to economic and trade matters and in keeping with the undertakings by the United States in the Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean, they expressed their deep disappointment that the US had not yet enacted legislation to grant NAFTA Parity to products of Caribbean origin. They were equally unhappy that stated US commitments of support for satisfactory marketing arrangements for Caribbean bananas in their traditional markets, had also not yet been translated into appropriate action.
The Heads of State and Government acknowledged that a number of the Region's concerns were shared by Central American countries and reiterated their intention to strengthen their collaboration with Central America in sustained efforts to achieve their mutual objectives.
They look forward to the successful outcome of the first Caribbean/US Trade and Investment Forum to be held in the Dominican Republic on 12-14 January 1999 to which end they undertook to encourage their private sectors to actively participate.
They reiterated their determination to act together in countering crime and violence, arms trafficking, the trade in illicit drugs and strengthening the criminal justice systems.
They expressed their satisfaction with the strengthening of relations between the Region and Canada, especially in the areas of economic cooperation and trade.

Sustainable Environment and Equitable Economic Development
The Heads of State and Government reiterated their support for the preservation of the environment as stipulated in the Declaration and Action Plan of the Summit of the Americas, the Declaration and Action Plan of Sustainable Development in the Hemisphere of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the United Nations Programme for the Environment and the Protocol on Marine Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities.
The Heads of State and Government endorsed the proposal for the Caribbean Sea to be internationally recognised as a Special Area in the context of Sustainable Development. They recognised the Caribbean Sea as an invaluable regional patrimony and agreed to give special priority to its preservation including the species living therein and to defend it against economic plunder and the passage of nuclear and toxic waste.
They stressed the importance of the 1999 UN Review Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island States and agreed that every effort should be sought to launch an initiative to have the Caribbean Sea internationally recognised as a Special Area in the context of Sustainable Development at that Review Conference. The Heads of State and Government committed themselves to channeling their efforts towards improving the standard of living of the people of the Region, by the pursuit of sustainable development, education and culture, and by promoting human resource development.

EU/Latin American/Caribbean Drug Cooperation Mechanism
The Heads of State and Government, reaffirmed their commitment to concerted regional action to combat the trade in illegal drugs and strongly endorsed the EU/Latin American/Caribbean Drug Cooperation Mechanism and while noting that some CARIFORUM States, namely the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname have already joined, they called upon all Member States of CARIFORUM to participate in the mechanism to redress the negative social and economic consequences of the drug trade on Caribbean States. In this regard, they took note of the various regional initiatives already being undertaken by the CARIFORUM States.

A Vision Towards the 21st Century
The Heads of State and Government recognised the historic significance of the occasion of their Meeting taking place as it is on the threshold of the new millennium which foreshadows fundamental changes in the forms of human interaction and societal development and economic prosperity.
In that regard they pledged to continue to explore possibilities and develop mechanisms for enhanced cooperation among the Governments and peoples of their countries.

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