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Daily News - 01 September 1998

President Fernández is back from PR
President Leonel Fernández returned yesterday to Santo Domingo at 5 pm after participating in the Puerto Rican trade, investment and tourism conference as part of the "One American Market: The South Looks South." President Fernández met with presidents of Central America and the governors of several U.S. southern states. In the final statement, the Declaration of Puerto Rico, the visiting presidents and governors committed to back efforts to pass legislation that would expand the scope of the Caribbean Basin Initiative program in view that the North American Free Trade Agreement has given Mexico an unfair advantage over the region in regards to light manufacturing and assembly operations. They also agreed to continue backing and promoting encounters among private sector such as the trade forum that was part of the event. They also committed to back development and collaboration strategies with the Central American Economic Integration System (SIECA) and the Southern Governors Association to promote trade, investment and tourism among both regions. The next meeting is set for year 2000.
Governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Carolina North, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia, West Virginia and Oklahoma participated.
Also presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras.

Opinion of Attorney General sought on new laws
The Supreme Court of Justice sent to the Attorney General of the Nation for his opinion the two requests to declare articles of the Judicial Career Law and the National Council of the Magistracy in violation with the Constitution. Lawyers of the leading opposition political party, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano sent the cases to the Supreme Court for consideration. They were also sent by the Fundación Institucionalidad y Justicia, the Asociación de Jóvenes Empresarios (ANJE) and Participación Ciudadana.

Understanding Dominican politics
Orlando Gil, political commentator of El Siglo, explains that one of the reasons former President Joaquín Balaguer has again become active in politics is because former President Salvador Jorge Blanco has assumed the role of covert arbiter and behind the scenes thinker of the PRD, replacing the late José Francisco Peña Gómez. Gil mentions that Balaguer fears what may happen if the faction revolving around Salvador Jorge Blanco return to power. Balaguer tried Jorge Blanco for corruption while in office from 1982-1986. Jorge Blanco was sentenced to a multi-million fine and 23 years in jail after several months of a trial that was televised. Jorge Blanco served time in jail for corruption in office. This was considered a political complot, especially as when Balaguer returned to office in 1986 to stay in power until 1996, press reports highlighted acts of corruption greater than those Jorge Blanco was accused of. Gil comments, that Jorge Blanco has not forgotten.

PRD governments have ended tragically
Orlando Gil points out that PRD governments have had tragic endings. In 1962, the first PRD government (Prof. Juan Bosch) was overthrown by a coup d'etat. The second PRD government, 1978-1982, President Antonio Guzman committed suicide shortly before handing the presidency to fellow party man, Dr. Salvador Jorge Blanco. And Dr. Jorge Blanco became the first Dominican President to be tried and sentenced for corruption in office.

Peguero Méndez says he would resign
The President of the Chamber of Deputies, Héctor Rafael Peguero Méndez (PRD-Independencia) said he would resign the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies if that would resolve the present political crisis. A political crisis has evolved from the passing of the Judicial Career Law that limits to 75 the age of the judges, affecting the Supreme Court of Justice or the Judicial Branch of government. Likewise, the PLD and PRSC grouped together to unilaterally elect the members of the Chamber of Accounts that revises the execution of the National Budget. The PLD and the PRSC supported PRD dissident Peguero Méndez in his aspirations to be re-elected as president of the Chamber of Deputies against the decision of the board of the PRD. The PRD retaliated with the Senate, where the PRD is majority, unilaterally electing new judges of the Central Electoral Board (JCE).
Peguero Méndez said that the present political problems are due to the lack of good sense by the heads of the PRD that did not seek political consensus to appoint the judges of the JCE. This consensus brought about the organizing of the first successful presidential elections in 1996.
Peguero told the press:
"If the solution to this political conflict is that Rafael Peguero 'that coconut-eating little black man from La Descubierta' resign the presidency of the Chamber, it will be my pleasure to do so if the country can retake the correct direction
"If the Chamber of Deputies is worth so much for the board of the PRD, more than the presidency of the Republic in 1994, more than the presidency of Peña Gómez in 1994, then we will give it up with pleasure so that there be good sense and not the overturning of what this society has gained in 30 years of consolidating democracy, step by step, and at the cost of so many struggles and blood of so many martyrs from all different sides, some in pro and others against.

Llenas Aybar case
Questioning finally began in the case on the kidnapping and homicide of 12 year old Jose Rafael Llenas Aybar. The first witness called was the former chief of the Police, General Antonio Segundo Imbert Tesson who went into a detailed account of the circumstances in which the cadaver was found on 3 May 1996. 120 persons are to be heard in regards to the case. The six grader's body was found with 34 stabs in the back. Investigations involved the husband and son of the former ambassador in the DR, and two 18-year olds who confessed to their participation.

Quisqueya song writer passes away
Mercedes Sagredo, composer/author of "Quisqueya", a hymn of Dominicans worldwide, died yesterday in New York at 87. She suffered from leukemia. She had resided in New York for the past 60 years.

Sammy Sosa hits his 55th home run
Dominican slugger, Sammy Sosa took a curtain call after hitting his 55th home run in the third inning of the Cubs' 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Sosa's 55th tied him with Mark McGwire who is expected to break Roger Maris' all-time record of 61 before the remaining 24 games of the season are over. Sosa is now only one home run away from Hack Wilson's National League and Cubs mark of 56 home runs. Sosa has averaged 14 homers a month since June 1, when he trailed McGwire by 14. For more information on Monday's game, see http://www.chicagotribune.com/section/0,1296,215-0,00.html

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