- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2004

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Fernandez returns to presidency

SANTO DOMINGO — Leonel Fernandez, 50, was sworn in as the Dominican Republic’s president yesterday, returning to power after four years out of office to lead a nation struggling through its worst economic crisis in decades.

His government inherits some $6 billion in foreign debt, worsening power outages and a desperation among the poor that is driving thousands to risk illegal voyages by boat to the wealthier U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

HAITI

Actor boycotts bicentennial cruise

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The American organizers of a cruise to mark the 200th anniversary of Haiti’s independence have canceled most of its itinerary in the country, citing concerns about the legitimacy of the government that replaced ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Actor Danny Glover, one of the organizers of the seven-day cruise, boycotted the trip altogether.

The cruise, billed as “Cruising Into History,” still was scheduled arrive in Haiti tomorrow with about 500 Americans on board.

Ecuador

‘Crazy one’ eyes presidency

PANAMA CITY — Former Ecuadorean President Abdala Bucaram, ousted by Congress in 1997 for “mental incompetence,” plans to return from self-imposed exile in Panama and run for president again in 2006.

Mr. Bucaram, known as “the crazy one” and living in Panama to avoid prosecution on corruption charges, says he is not guilty of the accusations against him and thinks his supporters would fight any attempt to imprison him.

The former leader — stripped of power the year after he became president amid protests against him — said he plans to meet with lawmakers and politicians in Panama at the end of August to prepare his return to Ecuador.

CUBA

Island hit hard by Charley

HAVANA — Charley became the most destructive hurricane to hit Cuba’s western Havana province since 1915, killing four persons, damaging 11,000 homes and knocking down hundreds of power lines, Civil Defense officials said.

An additional 5,000 homes were damaged in the rest of Cuba, and the western province of Pinar del Rio lost power.

Traveling south to north, the hurricane cut its destructive swath through Havana province in just two hours on Friday.

The storm damaged 502 schools and 22 health centers in Pinar del Rio and Havana provinces, officials said.


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