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Cablegate: Fernandez Plays Musical Chairs with Cabinet

VZCZCXYZ0011
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDG #1353/01 2401702
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 271702Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1339
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWN/AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PRIORITY 2184
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0922
RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN PRIORITY 1096
RUEHKG/AMEMBASSY KINGSTON PRIORITY 2888
RUEHPO/AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO PRIORITY 1221
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE PRIORITY 4850
RUEHSP/AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN PRIORITY 1922
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0201
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMISTA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

S E C R E T SANTO DOMINGO 001353

NOFORN
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR AND INR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2048
TAGS: PGOV PINR SENV MARR ETRD ECON DR
SUBJECT: FERNANDEZ PLAYS MUSICAL CHAIRS WITH CABINET

REF: A. SANTO DOMINGO 1340

B. USDAO IIR 6 827 0228 08/08-21-2008

C. SANTO DOMINGO 1189

D. TD-314/03112-05/01-19-2005


Classified By: P. Robert Fannin, Ambassador, Reasons 1.4(b), (d)

Summary

-------

1. (C) In a series of decrees issued following his August 16
inauguration, President Fernandez shuffled his cabinet;
however, many of the officials simply moved from one ministry
to another. There was no clear public policy message sent by
the personnel moves. Rather, by keeping most of the cabinet
positions in the hands of PLD party insiders, particularly
those loyal to him personally, Fernandez appears to be
keeping an eye on party rival Danilo Medina (Ref A). The
demotion of Alejandrina German from Education to Women's
Affairs was positive, given the corruption allegations
against her. The new Minister of Industry and Commerce,
Monchi Fadul, does not inspire much confidence. New
Ministers were also named for the Armed Forces, the
Presidency, Labor, Tourism, Education, and Youth. In the
security and intelligence services, while three potentially
seriously problematic appointments were avoided, we have
continuing concerns regarding several key officers. For
biographic information, see paras. 12-19.

Armed Forces

------------

2. (C/NF) The new Minster of the Armed Forces, LTGEN Pedro
Pena Antonio, has a very favorable and positive background
with U.S. officers in military conference, professional
training in the U.S., and USDAO and security assistance
venues. He seeks constructive relationships with U.S.
officers without losing Dominican integrity and pride or
appearing as a doormat or puppet. He favors USG security
policies as being best for Dominican security as well. USDAO
assesses that of the several candidates to become Minister,
Pena was unquestionably the most favorable to U.S. interests.
This is based principally on his attempts to achieve a
semblance of security of Dominican airspace and his desire to
professionalize the Air Force (see also Ref B).

Security Services

-----------------

3. (S/NF) In the security services, three potential
promotions that prompted serious U.S. concern (Ref C) did
not/not take place: Gen. Hector Medina Medina was not
appointed Minister of the Armed Forces; Gen. Rafael Bencosme
Candelier was not made Chief of Police; and RADM Jose Munoz
Moncion was not selected to be Navy Chief of Staff.

4. (S/NF) However, Post has continuing concerns regarding the
security services: The President "confirmed" Medina Medina
in his current position as the Chief of the Presidential
Military Aide's Corps (CAM), where he will continue to have a
powerful influence on the President's military decisions
(particularly regarding pesonnel). Munoz Moncion was
appointed as Commander of the Las Calderas Navy Base, located
in a principal region of drug trafficking activity. Host
nation asssets based at Las Calderas are the ones which
should respond to maritime drug deliveries from South
America. Maj. Gen. Manuel Florentino Florentino, an
individual with whom Post has serious concerns regarding
illegal activity (Ref D), was appointed head of the Frontier
Development Directorate, where opportunities for graft
related to the Haitian border are significant. At the
National Directorate for Intelligence, the cooperative
Director Sigfrido Pared Perez has been replaced by Maj. Gen.
Ramon Aquino Garcia, whose record is more neutral. On a
potentially more positive note, Bencosme Candelier was moved
to head the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET), where he
will presumably have fewer opportunities for nefarious
activities.

Industry and Commerce

---------------------

5. (C) In comments to the Ambassador, an American Chamber of
Commerce (AMCHAM) representative noted that the new Minister
of Industry and Commerce, Jose Ramon "Monchi" Fadul, has only
limited experience in the areas of trade and energy which
fall under his portfolio, including overseeing the
implementation of CAFTA-DR. The Embassy was not particularly
impressed with his performance in his previous position as
Labor Minister, where he seemed to be uninformed on important
issues. However, Fadul is a loyal party member, which should
give him some clout within the Administration.

Presidency

---------

6. (C) As Minister of the Presidency, Cesar Pina Toribio will
fulfill a role similar to Chief of Staff in the U.S. system.
USAID worked with Pina in his previous positions, and
describes him as an ally of U.S. programming for the justice
sector. He has played a key role in the implementation of
the criminal procedures code. Some analysts portrayed
Fernandez's choice of Pina as one designed to avoid having at
his right hand a person who himself aspires to the presidency.

Labor

-----

7. (C) The new Minister of Labor, Maximiliano Puig Miller, is
the leader of the leftist Alliance for Democracy Party and
the only non-PLD party member in the new cabinet. Puig was
dropped from his position as Minister of Environment in 2007
after making public allegations of corruption against the
Senate. He is expected to play an important role not only in
implementing the labor provisions of CAFTA-DR, but also in
the running of the new state-run health care system. In
comments to the Ambassador, an AMCHAM representative
described Puig as a better officer than his predecessor, the
new Minister of Industry and Commerce Fadul.

Tourism

-------

8. (C) Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia Fernandez,
another political loyalist, is being rewarded for his role as
campaign manager for the President's re-election campaign.

Minister of Tourism is seen by many Dominicans to be a
lucrative position. During his time as Minister of Industry
and Commerce, Garcia supported transportation interests that
opposed a U.S. company's right to implement new contracts,
which almost derailed the entry into force of CAFTA-DR. An
AMCHAM representative told the Ambassador that he was not
particularly impressed with Garcia's prior service in the
Industry and Commerce Ministry.

Education

---------

9. (C) Minister of Education Melanio Paredes has extensive
experience in the education sector, having taught at two
Universities in Santo Domingo (UNIBE and UTESA). During his
time as a congressman (1990-1994) he was chairman of the
Education Committee, and earlier he served as the General
Secretary of the Labor Union for teachers. In his previous
position as Minister of Industry and Commerce, the Embassy
found him to be an easy going person who is open, accessible,
and responsive. Post is pleased to see his predecessor,

Alejandrina German, gone from the ministry. She was the
subject of multiple corruption allegations, including a case
involving a company tied to her daughter which allegedly sold
millions of dollars worth of nutritionally deficient school
lunches to the government.

Women

-----

10. (SBU) Alejandrina German was demoted, but remains in the
cabinet as Minister of Women's Affairs. During the first
part of her term at the Education Ministry, German's
relationship with USAID was challenging. Over time these
challenges turned into opportunities and the relationship
improved significantly. German was eventually responsive to
our request for coordination and recognized USAID as an
important partner. She has been an advocate in expanding
USAID's Regional Centers of Education for Teacher Training
and has committed the Ministry's own resources in the
expansion.

Youth

-----

11. (U) The new Minister of Youth, Franklin Rodriguez, is a
lawyer and journalist. Born in 1979, he is an alumnus of the
State Department-sponsored National Democracy Institute
Leadership Program. Mr. Rodriguez is the youngest member of
the Central Committee of the PLD and was the coordinator of
the PLD youth campaign. He has also served as vice-president
of the Dominican Student Federation.

Biographic Information

----------------------

12. (S/NF) Minister of Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Pedro Rafael

PENA Antonio

- Air Force Chief of Staff (2006-2008)

- Described as intelligent and outspoken, as well as pro-U.S.
and friendly with U.S. officials

- Helicopter pilot with search and rescue experience;
personal pilot to President in Fernandez's first term

- Prior service as Assistant Military Attache in Washington,
Air Force Comptroller, Inspector General, and Vice Chief of
Staff

- Degree in human resources management

13. (U) Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose Ramon "Monchi"
FADUL

- Minister of Labor (2004-2008)

- Member of the PLD's Political Committee

- Influential in Santiago, where he was mayor (1990-1994) and
congressional representative (1982-1986, 1994-2002)

- Former Director of the Dominican Corporation of State

Enterprises

14. (U) Minister of Presidency Cesar PINA Toribio

- Presidential Legal Adviser (1996-1999 and 2004-2008)

- Attorney General (1999-2000)

- Member of his family's law firm since receiving his
doctorate from UASD in 1970

- Taught law at PUCMM, UNIBE, and UASD, focusing primarily on
criminal law and criminal procedure

- Member of the PLD Party's Central Committee

15. (U) Minister of Labor Maximiliano PUIG Miller

- Minister of Environment (2004-2007)

- National Coordinator for the Lome IV Accord, with rank of
Minister (1996-2000)

- Served as Senator (1990-1994), at first with PLD, then when
that party suffered split in 1992, Puig and ten deputies
resigned from PLD to set up ADP party (ADP was in coalition
with PLD in 2008 election and prior).

- Studied sociology and public law at the University of Paris
and received his PhD in Political Science there in 1970

- Taught sociology at UASD (1971-1992)


16. (U) Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier GARCIA Fernandez

- National Campaign Manager for Leonel Fernandez for
President (2007-2008)

- Minister of Industry and Commerce (2004-2007)

- During the first Fernandez administration (1996-2000)
served as general manager for national lottery, president of
state-owned oil refinery, and executive director of port
authority

- Member of the Central and Political Committees of the PLD

- In private sector, worked as real estate developer


17. (U) Minister of Education Melanio A. PAREDES Pinales

- Minister of Industry and Commerce (2007-2008)

- Director General, National Institute for Technical and
Professional Training (2004-2007)

- Executive Director for Airports (1999)

- Professor, UNIBE and UTESA

- Congressman for San Cristobal (1990-1994)

- Physics degree, UASD


18. (U) Minister of Women's Affairs Alejandrina GERMAN

- Minister of Education (2004-2008)

- Minister of Presidency (1999-2000)

- Director, Higher Education Council (1996-2000)

- Member of PLD party Political Committee


19. (U) Minister of Youth Franklin RODRIGUEZ

- President, PLD party youth wing

- Alumnus of the State Department sponsored National
Democracy Institute Leadership Program

- Member of Central Committee of PLD

- Former vice-president of Dominican Student Federation (FED)

- Born 1979 in San Cristobal

(U) Please visit us at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/santodomingo/
FANNIN

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