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Daily News - 17 July 2002

Evaluating pending loans
Loans sent to Congress by the Executive Branch are on hold until a governmental commission evaluates their worth and timeliness, says Minister of Finance Jose Lois Malkum. The commission expects to review the pending loans and issue a report by 16 August. In the meantime, the Ministry of Finance has requested a temporary freeze of passing of new loans by Congress. 
Economists have alerted that the increasing foreign debt burden taken on by the Mejia government is causing foreign payment problems for the government. 
The members of the governmental commission are Technical Secretary of the Presidency Rafael Calderon, who has promoted several of the loan projects and favors more loan taking; and the more cautious Minister of Finance Jose Lois Malkum, Monetary Board member Carlos Despradel; Governor of the Central Bank Frank Guerrero Prats and sociologist Frank Marino Hernandez. 
Minister of Finance Jose Lois Malkum explains the commission will be reviewing US$1 billion in loan projects sent by the Executive Branch for congressional approval. 
According to El Caribe newspaper, a Technical Secretary of the Presidency report indicates that during the first year and a half of the Mejia administration, Congress had passed foreign loans for US$2.3 billion, including US$500 million in sovereign bond funds. 
Most of the loans taken on during the Mejia administration are short term loans with foreign commercial banks. These generate hefty commissions for their promoters. These have also been criticized on grounds that the loans are used to buy overvalued goods that are purchased without tenders. 

Lobbying for the PRD and PLD votes
Diario Libre reports on the intense lobbying of President Hipolito Mejia supporters to secure the necessary votes for the passing of a constitutional reform that would reduce the votes needed to win the presidency to a 45% plurality. This is down from a 50%+1 absolute majority as required at present. The lobbyists already secured that Congress reinstate re-election into the constitution.
The PRSC legislators now reject the reduction of the percentage, but news reports say that PRD supporters are optimistic they will secure enough votes for the measure to pass among dissident PRD and PLD legislators. The PLD recently expelled 10 legislators when they enabled quorum to be met to pass the first constitutional reform changes, violating party instructions.
For the measure to pass during the scheduled Saturday, 20 July session, two thirds of the legislators present need to vote in favor. If fewer legislators attend the session, fewer votes will be needed for it to pass.

Balaguer museum at 25 Maximo Gomez
Diario Libre reports that prior to his death, former President Joaquin Balaguer created a foundation that will turn his former residence into a museum showcasing his library and several of his personal items. The museum is located in the two-floor annex behind the main building of his 25 Maximo Gomez Avenue home. Balaguer, while still alive, donated the main part of his residence, to the Institute of Cancer. 
His personal secretary of 46 years, Rafael Bello Andino presides the foundation. 
Diario Libre also reports that two other of his close aides, Anibal Paez and General Luis Maria Perez Bello are overseeing the preparation of the museum.

The blank page
The death of former President Joaquin Balaguer re-opens the debates as to the murder of two highly-reputed critics of the early 70s, journalists Orlando Martinez Howley (murdered 17 March 1975) of El Nacional and Gregorio Garcia Castro (murdered 28 March 1973) of Ultima Hora. 
At least in the case of one of these, Martinez Howley, there is speculation that Balaguer could have left behind, for future disclosure, written information regarding whom the intellectual authors of the crime were. 
At the end of the Fernandez government, 25 years after the murder of Martinez, the Martinez Howley case was finally tried and four persons were sentenced to 30 years in prison as material authors of the crime. These were General Joaquin Antonio Pou Castro, former Air Force sargeant Mariano Cabrera Duran, and civilians Rafael Alfredo Lluberes Ricart and Luis Emilio de la Rosa Beras. But the case did not move forward to look into who had ordered the death. Balaguer repeatedly refused to testify, despite being requested by the judge who prepared the first part of the case, Juan Miguel Castillo Pantaleon. 
With the death of the former statesman, the debate as to whether the intellectual authors of the death will soon be known makes front page news again. 
When asked at the wake of Balaguer, military strongman during Balaguer regimes, retired general Enrique Perez y Perez said that the blank page was but a marketing trick to help sell more of the Memorias de un Cortesano de la Era de Trujillo (Memoires of a Courtesan of the Trujillo Era) book. But many speculate Balaguer most likely did leave the information for future publication. 
Martinez was a prominent critic of the Balaguer government and frequently exposed crimes within the government and the military in his El Nacional column. 
Upon publishing the book with his memories in 1986, Balaguer left a page blank explaining the contents of the page had been left with a trusted person for publication several years after his death. In other words, Balaguer knew who the intellectual authors of the assassination were. 
Page 333 of the book literally translates as: 
“This page is inserted blank. For many years it will remain mute, but one day it will speak up so that its voice be known for historical purposes. Mute, like a tomb from where voices will rise, in accusation, when time permits the lifting of the slabs under which truth lies. 
The contents of the page have been left with a friend I trust, who because of reasons of age will survive me and will make this known some years after my death.” 
Balaguer had said that the investigations carried out on the case in 1975 by then chief of the Police, the late General Rafael Nivar Seijas are the real ones. 
Judge Juan Miguel Castillo Pantaleon, who prepared the case for trial, told El Caribe newspaper that what the late statesman has supposedly left in writing should coincide with his investigations that led to the sentencing of the material authors of the murder. 
In the same book, Balaguer says that he was never able to find out for sure who had ordered the murder of another journalist, Gregorio Garcia Castro of Ultima Hora newspaper.
Balaguer writes in the book that was published 13 years after the murder of Garcia Castro: “One of the great frustrations I will take to my tomb, is to die without having convincingly known the name of the government officer, military or civilian, who ordered that three heartless men iniquitously take the life (of Garcia Castro). In that case, contrary to what happened with the case of Orlando Martinez Howley, another rebel of the same spiritual contexture of Garcia Castro, there was a confabulation of silences that I was not able to break, not even by offering generous gifts to the supposed authors of this infamy.” 
Garcia Castro was shot by unknown assailants as he left his newspaper offices on 28 March 1973. He was a severe critic of the Balaguer government and most political groups and had reportedly warned then-President Joaquin Balaguer of a police plot to kill him. A high-level commission was at the time named to find the killers and three former secret policemen were tried for his murder; all were freed.

Strengthening of the Euro to benefit travel
Arturo Villanueva, executive vice president of the National Hotel & Restaurant Association, says that the strengthening of the euro in regards to the US dollar will bring an increase in European travel to Dominican tourism. He said that half of the tourists that visit the country come from Europe. He said that this will make the cost of a Dominican holiday cheaper for European travelers, as Dominican holidays are priced in US dollars. He said that competing markets such as Cuba that sell their packages in Euros will not benefit from the exchange factor. This means the DR will have a temporary competitive advantage. 
Listin Diario reports today that the strengthening of the euro makes investments in the DR more attractive to Europeans, and also increases the value of the remittances sent home by Dominicans living in Europe.

Yoqui and Bobby
Dominican newspapers give front page coverage today to the sadness of Yoqui and Bobby, former President Joaquin Balaguer’s beloved collie dogs. For Balaguer, these were his “noble and inseparable friends.” Reports tell of how Balaguer dedicated 15 minutes every noontime to lovingly talk to his dogs. Every day at the same time the dogs were prepared to be taken up to the second floor quarters of the 95-year old politician for their private time with him. Special care was given to the dogs that had their own air-conditioned room. The dogs had two caretakers, Daniel Amaro and Domingo Hernandez.

Comedy not to be missed
Wanda Arriaga, winner of the ACE and Hola awards for Hispanic actresses in New York City will go on stage at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater in “Que Felices son las Barbies,” a satirical comedy. The play will be on stage the weekend of the 26-28 July and from Thursday, 1 August through 4 August. 8:30 pm presentations. 
 
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