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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05SANTODOMINGO1026 2005-02-25 13:58:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Santo Domingo
Cable title:  

DOMINICAN OPPOSITION BRISTLES; FERNANDEZ BACKS OFF

Tags:   PGOV DR 
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					  UNCLAS SANTO DOMINGO 001026 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR WHA/CAR, WHA/EPSC, WHA/USOAS, EB/TPP/BTA,
EB/IFD/OMA;
NSC FOR SHANNON AND MADISON;LABOR FOR ILAB;
USCINCSO ALSO FOR POLAD; TREASURY FOR OASIA-LCARTER
STATE PASS USTR FOR VARGO, RYCKMAN, MALITO, CRONIN
USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAC/WH/CARIBBEAN BASIN DIVISION
USDOC FOR 3134/ITA/USFCS/RD/WH; DHS FOR CIS-CARLOS ITURREGUI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV DR
SUBJECT: DOMINICAN OPPOSITION BRISTLES; FERNANDEZ BACKS OFF




1. The Dominican Republic,s opposition, uncoordinated and
quiescent since its resounding electoral defeat last year,
ended its truce this week and mounted its first serious
attack on the policies of President Fernandez since he
assumed office six months ago. This awakening may not
restore opposition unity or public support, but it suggests a
bumpy road between Congress and the Palace on passage of
urgent legislation.



2. Former President Hiplito Mejia on February 19 broke his
silence and declared the post-inaugural truce to be over. He
criticized the government,s "failed" economic policies and
called on his party to take a more aggressive stance.
Mejia,s barbs, delivered at a sympathizers, rally in the
interior city of San Francisco de Macoris, drew sharp replies
from three senior government officials about the financial
mess they had inherited from Mejia. With this sortie, the
PRD - - led by the former president,s "Institutional
Current" faction - - tried to smooth over the party,s
internal squabbles to target the common adversary. He spoke
again in Santo Domingo on February 24, announcing plans to
tour the country and moderate among PRD factions. Mejia,s
hand in the party was strengthened by a Supreme Court
decision February 23 declaring inadmissible a legal challenge
to his leadership by PRD dissident leader Hatuey De Camps.



3. The opposition in Congress quickly followed Mejia,s lead,
or appeared to do so. On February 22, 400 campesinos
protested outside Congress over their evictions from lands
granted them by the Mejia administration. Inside, the PRD,s
Senate majority refused to consider bills authorizing
domestic bonds to fund reforms required by the IMF agreement.
The senators - - seconded by PRD secretary general "Fello"
Subervi - - said they would block all government legislation
until President Fernandez met with them to discuss their
concerns, including dismissals of public doctors,
agronomists, and teachers who had served under Mejia.
Legislators of both opposition parties (PRD and PRSC)
threatened to override a presidential veto of a bill
providing equal allotments of public funds to the three big
political parties.



4. Faced with headlines about the Senate,s "rebellion,"
Fernandez withdrew the veto and signed the party financing
bill into law. He met with Senate President Andres Bautista
(PRD) and Senator German Castro (PRSC) and promised to
rescind the dismissals of doctors, to review other firings,
and to name a commission to investigate the land tenure
issue. Both sides made conciliatory statements. The
president got mixed reviews for a sensible effort to work
with the opposition-dominated Congress or, alternately, for
being irresolute and weak. The Senate kept up the pressure
by canceling the scheduled February 24 session, and Senate
Vice President Cesar Augusto "Yayo" Matias announced that the
chamber would not approve a bond issuance worth RD $8.3
billion (US $285 million) until the promises were fulfilled.

- - (This piece and extensive other material can be consulted
on our classified SIPRNET site
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/santodomingo/ .) - -
HERTELL