- Friday, 30 March 2012 09:53
- Written by S. Maxime
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (defend.ht/Dominican Today) – Pressure mounts on the Dominican ruling party Senator Felix Bautista (PLD-San Juan), when on Tuesday his party and congressional colleagues urged him to clearly explain his contracts reported worth $385.0 million US with the Haitian Government for the construction of major works, and the Justice Minister warned that he would proceed if provided with evidence.
Senator Luis René Canaán said Bautista, the Senator from San Juan de la Maguana province in the Dominican Republic, should provide proof of his innocence in his “transparent” manner. “I feel that Senator Felix Bautista has always been a transparent man.”
Justice Minister Radhamés Jiménez said the lawmaker, one of President Leonel Fernandez’s closest collaborators, must explain to the country how he obtained the contracts and warned that if there was a graft, the Justice Ministry would proceed, because it cannot react to speculations or rumors.
The official added that no formal accusation has been lodged against Bautista thus far. “If there are concrete facts against a person, the Justice Ministry acts with objectivity, but not on simple rumor.”
Contracts Issue #1
In Haiti, the issue culminated with the resignation of a prime minister, its lead up was creating division between the cabinet of ministers, strained relations with Venezuela and a PR nightmare for incumbents in an election year in DR.
The signing of more than two dozen contracts took place nearing the end of the presidency of Rene Preval but according to the former Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive had the full knowledge of the President, Michel Martelly.
Martelly was inaugurated on May 14th, Bellerive resigned from office on May 13th and on May 12th, among other things, signed over 13 contracts to a construction company whose public records say was dissolved the September prior.
Six other contracts diverged from the laws on contracts that were set by the people of Haiti. These six agreements went to three companies, one was a Haitian company that obtained one contract the other five went to two Dominican companies, both owned by Bautista.
They total about $500 million [US] and are rumored to be paying for lavish estates for Haitian government officials in the D.R. and in Haiti.
The half billion dollars in contracts is a loan that Haiti must begin to pay back to Venezuela in 18 years. In the past week, Venezuela stepped in to forgive $100 million in DR debt so far that it uses it for reconstruction project in Haiti. Venezuela also managed to give Haiti $369 million back of money it had paid. All has been allocated for reconstruction projects.
These efforts by Venezuela to right a perceived wrong doesn’t hide the suspicion that the $500 million is being used to bribe members of parliament, finance elections and pay for demagogic displays by the central government.