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Daily News - 9 July 2002

Mejia vs. Fernandez
President Hipolito Mejia challenged his predecessor, former President Leonel Fernandez to sign a pact whereby neither of the two would aspire to the presidency ever again. Fernandez was President from 1996-2000 but was not able to run again for President in 2000 because the 1994 constitutional reform banned consecutive re-election. Now followers of President Mejia want to change the constitution to allow Mejia to run for office in 2004. 
Talking to the press during a police officers graduation ceremony yesterday, President Mejia reaffirmed a proposal he first made on TV on Sunday, whereby all former Presidents would pact to not run for President again. Mejia went so far as to challenge Fernandez to sign the no-run deal. "Tell him that I, tell him (Fernandez) that I challenge him to sign an agreement so all of us that have been presidents not enter the race." 
Fernandez was quick to respond during a press conference called at the PLD political party headquarters. "The President of the Republic should disallow his followers within the PRD, that are guided only by their own convenience and unbridled ambitions for power, from inflicting a mortal blow on our still fragile democracy," he said, referring to the bill that has been submitted for the reforming of the constitution. 
Fernandez feels that a plebiscite should be called so that the Dominican people can have their say. In his opinion, the gentlemen's agreement proposed by President Mejia would leave the Dominican people out of the decision. 
Hoy newspaper says that Fernandez highlighted there are more important things to debate than re-election. "That is not the issue. Neither is that to be decided by President Mejia nor myself. Why fear the opinion of the people? Why not ask Dominicans?" he said. 
But he again reiterated that the re-election issue is not in tune with the true needs and aspirations of the Dominican people. He favored instead the start of a serious and responsible debate on what the Dominican government has to do to become a modern and efficient state that responds to the requirements of the modern world. 
"That yes, that would be something else, but obviously the PRD legislators are not of that mind frame, because their personal ambitions come first, and that, I insist, will only lead democracy to bankruptcy and failure," said Fernandez.

2.2% inflation in first half 2002
Inflation in the first half of the year reached 2.2% according to the Central Bank. The Consumer Price Index for June grew 0.11% compared to the previous month. Accumulated annual inflation from June 2001 to June 2002 was 4.05%. 

Transporting more than used clothing?
Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez is quoted in the Listin Diario today saying that the issue of the imports of used clothing from Haiti is a delicate one. He told the press that not only second hand clothing is being transported, but "more delicate things." He did not specify what he was referring to. 
Border trade between Haiti and the DR is at a standstill after the Dominican government last month banned the import of used clothing. To protest, Haitians are not allowing the import of Dominican produce. 
A great part of the used clothing sold in the DR is donated to Haiti by foreign charity organizations for distribution among indigent Haitians. 
President Mejia ordered Customs to impede the trade of second hand clothes from Haiti reportedly because the competition threatens local clothing companies that manufacture or sell new merchandise. 

Garbage companies step up the pressure
Two leading garbage collection companies announced the suspension of their services yesterday. Proaseo y Urbaser, joined Colimec, that had earlier also suspended the service in the capital city and Santo Domingo Province demanding that the government make payments on arrears. Proaseo and Urbaser are responsible for picking up approximately 1,800 tons of garbage a day. Hoy newspaper said that the government authorized the payment of RD$73 million to the companies, including RD$13.8 million for Urbaser, RD$30.7 to Proaseo and RD$13.2 million to Colimec. The Asociacion de Empresas de Gestores de Residuos, the association of garbage collecting companies, says the government owes them RD$677 million. 
The companies are stepping up the pressure now that the Municipality of Santo Domingo will be changing hands as of 16 August 2002. They fear the new authorities will not meet their demands. Meanwhile City Mayor Johnny Ventura has said that the municipality is studying what the total of the actual debt his administration will be leaving adds up to. 
President Mejia has committed to make payments of RD$500 million to the companies. 

Airport employees fail anti-doping test
Diario Libre reports that 160 employees at the Las Americas International Airport tested positive in an anti-doping test carried out by the Airport Department. Dr. Carlos Alvarez Guzman said that their employers were notified and will have to relocate the employees outside of the airport premises. Alvarez said that the employees should be considered sick, not delinquents by the companies. 

30-year sentence to filmmaker murderers
Judge Francisco Ortega sentenced three men to 30 years in jail for the murder of Dominican movie producer Jean Louis Jorge on 12 March 2000. Jose Monegro Beltre, and 23-year old Melkin Perez Otañez and Manolo Perez were found guilty of the murder. They were also ordered to indemnify the father of the victim, Salomon Jorge, with RD$10 million. The accused have 10 days to appeal the judgment. 
Jorge was found dead in his Pedro Henriquez Ureña apartment in Santo Domingo. He had been stabbed and strangled. 
Diario Libre reports that German August Sanata, who Jorge's relatives have signaled out as the intellectual author of the crime, did not appear in court despite being summoned as a witness. 

NY Consul decree on hold?
Orlando Gil, the Listin Diario political columnist, says that the decree appointing a son of the late PRD leader, Jose Francisco Peña Gomez as consul general in New York has not yet been published. Thus, there is still time for changes. The decree appointed Minister of Youth Francisco Antonio Peña Guaba as the new consul general. Gil says that actual incumbent, Luis Eludi Perez traveled to Santo Domingo to speak to President Mejia over the weekend. Likewise, he writes that Rafael Lantigua, president of the PRD in New York, also traveled to Santo Domingo for talks. 

Law firm celebrates 75th anniversary
The Guzman & Ariza law firm celebrated its 75th anniversary in San Francisco de Macoris on 4 July. D. Antonio Guzman, who passed away last year, founded the law firm in 1927. 
Speaking during the celebration, law firm president Fabio Guzman spoke of the start of the law firm. He said that his father was authorized to practice law at 21 years old by the Supreme Court of Justice in Santo Domingo. Shortly after, instead of following the custom of most new lawyers of the time and opening a practice in the capital city, his father chose to return to his hometown of Salcedo. His father reasoned that he knew more people in Salcedo and would have less competition. 
The late D. Antonio Guzman was latter to associate with Pelegrin Castillo with whom he had done his law internship. When Pelegrin Castillo went into exile during the Trujillo dictatorship, Guzman set up his own office. 
Guzman recalled how his father attracted a local clientele and a reputation as a lawyer who won his cases. In 1977 he was recognized with the order of Duarte, Sanchez y Mella, rank Great Silver Cross by President Balaguer for his rectitude, consecration to the law profession and for his honesty. 
Guzman highlighted how his firm has been a pioneer in counseling foreigners, especially in tourism investment areas. He also spoke of his use of the Internet to attract new clients. He says in 1998 the firm became the first law firm to have a web site, and he spoke of the successful efforts to maintain one of the most interactive legal sites of the country. This legal forum is in association with dr1.com
Guzman credited the constant answering of questions of readers from all around the world to having secured as clients the two leading US firms that are handling the suits of relatives of Dominicans who died in the AA587 crash. 
Guzman said that he continues to follow in the footsteps of his father and has chosen to open branches in areas where there is less competition and need of good legal counsel. Guzman & Ariza opened the Sosua office in 1985, moving on to Las Terrenas and Samana. The firm is looking into opening a branch in La Romana. 

Producing power from coal
Empresa Generadora de Electricidad Itabo announced its Itabo power plant is now generating power using the more cost efficient coal. The company invested US$125 million to convert the 125-megawatt Itabo power plant to coal. Kevin Manning, general manager, said that the use of coal as fuel would improve the earnings of the power plant. He highlighted that the Dominican government is a partner in the plant. 

Punta Cana hotels attract soccer people
The chief of the soccer team of France chose Punta Cana to vacation after the intense days leading up to the World Cup. Marcel Desailly and his family vacationed at Club Med Punta Cana the week of 28 June to 8 July. Earlier, the team of Portugal had come for a respite staying at several Punta Cana hotels.

Nine Dominicans in All Star Game today
Nine Dominican ball players of a total of 60 players are on the National and American League All Star Game rosters. The games will be played this evening and televised from the Miller Park in Milwaukee. This is a new record for Dominican players in an All Star Game. The previous record was seven players. 
Dominicans that will represent the National and American Leagues in the All Star game are: Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs), Vladimir Guerrero (Montreal Expos), Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox), Alex Rodriguez (Texas Rangers), Alfonso Soriano (New York Yankees), Tony Batista (Baltimore Orioles), Odalis Perez (Los Angeles Dodgers), Luis Castillo (Florida Marlins) and Miguel Tejada (Oakland Athletics). 
Pedro Martinez was scheduled to play but turned down the opportunity to travel to the DR to rest. 
This will be the first All Star Game for Alfonso Soriano, Luis Castillo and Odalis Perez. 
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