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Daily News - 16 July 2002

Balaguer funeral services
The Dominican Republic is in mourning for three days following the passing away of 95-year old former statesman Joaquin Balaguer. 
The late President Joaquin Balaguer is being mourned since Sunday at his 25 Maximo Gomez home. His body can be viewed in the dining room of his home. 
Balaguer’s body will be mourned with state honors at 8:30 am at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday, 17 July. President Hipolito Mejia will speak briefly. [DR1 erroneously reported yesterday that he would be mourned on Monday at the Presidential Palace.] 
From there it will be taken to the Iglesia La Paz in the Centro de los Heroes for a Requiem Mass. 
Then he will be mourned at the headquarters of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, near the Quisqueya Ball Park. 
Balaguer will be buried with honors in the Balaguer family mausoleum at the Cementerio Cristo Redentor. Minister of the Armed Forces Jose Miguel Soto Jimenez will head a battalion that will render the military honors as the National Anthem is played and 19 canon shots are fired. 
Joaquin Ricardo will speak for the family and Balaguer’s personal secretary for 46 years, Rafael Bello Andino was chosen to render the good bye words. 
City drivers should avoid the Cesar Nicolas Penson, Dr. Baez, Av. Bolivar and Abraham Lincoln, Av. Lope de Vega, Av. Tiradentes and John F. Kennedy-Duarte Highway during the estimated times when the funeral caravan will be passing. 

Constitution discussions set for Saturday
President of the Senate Andres Bautista Garcia convened the National Constitution Reform Assembly for Saturday, 20 July at 10 am. The legislators are summoned to discuss the percentage needed to win the presidential elections in a first round. 
The legislators have already passed the required two reading to change the constitution in regards to eliminating the closed voting stations and to allow consecutive re-election. 
A last minute impasse has delayed the passing of the 45% plurality to win the presidential election in a first round. Originally it was said that the PRSC had agreed to this minimum if the leading candidate had at least 10 percentage points more than the runner up. But some PRSC leaders disagree, arguing that it diminishes their negotiating capacity. 
The 45% plurality was proposed in the constitutional reform discussions ongoing in the early 90s. At the time it was raised to 50%+1 to make it difficult for the late PRD leader Jose Francisco Peña Gómez to be elected President. As proven in the past three presidential elections, the 50%+1 absolute majority makes political alliances of some kind necessary in order to win the presidency in the Dominican Republic. 
The discussions that were begun on Friday, 12 July and continue on Saturday, 13 July were interrupted when former President Joaquin Balaguer died on early Sunday morning. 
PRSC legislators said that the date is too soon after the death of the PRSC leader. The legislators had suggested the reform discussions wait for the wake procedures, including the nine days of masses following the death.

Case against former consul to be heard
Former Dominican consul in Cap Haitien, Guillermo Radhames Garcia will be tried for people smuggling in Dajabon. He is accused of trafficking with Chinese immigrants. 
The Chinese pay to enter the DR, as a first step before making an illegal boat trip to get to Puerto Rico and from there to the United States. 
Garcia was denounced by Migration Department authorities at the border for the trafficking with 16 Chinese nationals in June. Garcia personally escorted the Chinese through the frontier and to a hotel in Santiago where they spent the night. 
Josefina Cepin Grullon is the judge in charge of preparing the case in Dajabon. 
Garcia is a deputy-elect for the province of La Vega. He will not be sworn in if he is under arrest at the time. 
Garcia told El Caribe that he is not under arrest. He said he showed up voluntarily at the Dajabon District Attorney, after learning that the government corruption prevention department (Depreco) had reviewed his case. He said he is confident he will be sworn in as deputy on 16 August.

Visas for Colombians
The Director General of Migration, Miguel Vasquez said that the government is again requiring Colombians be issued Dominican visas prior to their traveling to the Dominican Republic. Earlier this year the Dominican government had exempted the Colombians from the requirement but the measure was revoked. Vasquez said that too many Colombians that entered with only the purchase of tourist cards had remained in the country beyond their authorized time and with their whereabouts unknown. Diario Libre reports that Vasquez explained the visa requirement was reinstated because of the existence of guerilla and drug smuggling groups in Colombia.

Samana highway begun
The Minister of Public Works Miguel Vargas Maldonado announced the start of construction of the Santo Domingo-Samana highway. A Dominican-Colombian consortium, Autopistas del Nordeste will build the highway. This is the first highway to be built with the concession modality. Tolls collected for travel on the highway will reimburse the company for the investment. Vargas reaffirmed the company will cover 80% of the investment, with the Dominican state responsible for 20% of the cost. The new highway is estimated to cost US$125 million. The highway is scheduled to be completed by July 2004. 
The 120-kilometer highway will shorten the time it takes to drive from the capital city to Samana by an hour and a half to two hours. Autopistas del Nordeste company will be responsible for maintaining the highway for the next 30 years, as reported in Diario Libre. 
Listin Diario explains that the highway will start at Km. 17 of the Las Americas Highway going South-North to Rincon de Molinillos in Samana. 
The building companies are Odinsa and Grodco from Colombia and Remix and Chaljub from the Dominican Republic.

Anisia trial to court
Dario Gomez Herrera, judge of the Fifth Criminal Court of the National District, was entrusted with the case against Anisia Rissi de Mercedes for corruption while director of the Customs Department during the Balaguer term 1990-1994. 
She is accused along with another 24 persons of fraud against the state for RD$1 billion. The case was reopened at the requirement of District Attorney Maximo Aristy Caraballo. 
The 24 persons were released from jail after having on bail, through the habeas corpus or prison suspension procedures. In 1997, the 6th Instruction Court said that there was sufficient evidence to send those accused to criminal court. This was confirmed in March 2000 by another court. 
As reported in El Caribe, the Anisia Case was one of the very rare occasions when a Balaguer administration officer was arrested for alleged corruption. Even while she has been free to appear even in the social pages of Dominican newspapers, the case against her continues open in Dominican courts. Balaguer removed Anisia Rissi de Mercedes from the post, and in her place he appointed Teofilo Tabar, who remained director of Customs to the end of his government in 1996 and then continued on during the government of Leonel Fernandez. Mejia appointed Tabar his director of income tax.

Ministers reject Bahia de las Aguilas bill
II Iberoamerican Ministers of Environment Forum held at the Bavaro Convention Center last week concluded that the Bahia de las Aguilas and the National Park of Jaragua should be preserved. The ministers oppose the bill that has passed in the Senate that would separate Bahia de las Aguilas beach land from the protected park area and allow hotel infrastructure in the area. 
Spanish hotel groups propose to build 6,000 to 20,000 hotel rooms in the area and even hosted President Hipolito Mejia to Spain earlier this year to visit ecologically friendly tourism projects. 
But the Spanish Minister of Waters and Coastal Areas, Pascual Fernandez Martinez during the Bavaro event supported Dominican Minister of Environment Frank Moya Pons’ position that the Bahia de las Aguilas beach lands should be off limits for hotel development, as reported in El Caribe newspaper. The area is a protected reserve established in Law 64-00, one of the first laws passed during the Mejia administration. Ecology groups have denounced the bill sends a negative message to investors and violates international agreements for the preservation of the environment. 
The bill was prepared by senators of the border provinces of Barahona, Bahoruco, Pedernales and Independencia and the senator of San Cristobal. It was sent to Congress on 19 June and passed by the Senate on 10 July. 
President Hipolito Mejia said last week that he would veto the bill if it passed in Congress. He said congressmen should wait for him to submit the Ministry of Environment ruling that establishes the use of property located in the national parks.

Casa de Teatro celebrates
Celebrating the 28th anniversary, Casa de Teatro is celebrating its 28th anniversary with several outstanding concerts at its Colonial City premises for only RD$100 per person. 
The schedule of the remaining concerts is:
Friday, 19 July at 9 pm. Frank Ceara concert, “Demasiado Amor,” followed by a free 10 pm concert with Said Carbonell at the Café Teatro. 
Saturday, 20 July, Patricia Pereyra, “Un Bolero llamado Patricia.”
Afterwards, Pavel Núñez goes on stage at the Café Teatro with a free 10 pm concert. 
Wednesday, 24 July. Noche de Boleros with Sonia Silvestre and Jorge Taveras at Café Teatro. 10 pm. RD$100. 
Friday, 26 July. Ballet Roto presents the show that they will be taking to London. 9 pm. RD$150. At 11 pm, Said Carbonell’s show at Café Teatro. 
28 July grand anniversary party at 9 pm with Said Carbonell, Pavel Nuñez, Victor Victor, Jose Antonio Rodriguez, Carlos Luis, Claudio Cohen, Rodolfo, Roldan and others. Open bar. RD$300. 
For more information, see http://www.casadeteatro.com
 
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