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Fernández struggles to rebuild

Fernández: faced with the thankless task
of rebuilding what the previous president's
administration shattered

Leonel Fernández, the Dominican Republic's new president, is a man with a thankless task. After overhauling the Caribbean nation's economy during his first presidency in the late 1990s and laying the groundwork for rapid growth from 2000 onwards, he watched as his work was undone by his successor, Hipolito Mejía, who led the country into economic collapse and default in 2003.

Now Fernández is back to rebuild what Mejía's administration shattered, but despite a new $670 million IMF loan the going is tough. The republic has slipped into default on its commercial debt this year and Fernández is struggling to complete a restructuring on its $1.1 billion sovereign debt as it picks up the pieces left by Mejía's bail-out of the crisis-hit banking sector. Fernández's government has warned that it might not be able to make its debt payments on time until it restructures its 2006 and 2013 global bonds to avoid a payments' pile-up this year.

But Fernández's credibility is growing and he has had several successes since taking office last August.

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