Claim: Menendez Pressured U.S. to Revoke Dominican Pol's Visa
Last Tuesday, Dr. Guido Gomez Mazara, a former legal adviser to Dominican Republic President Hipolito Mejia, told the Dominican publication Acento that Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) pressured the State Department and the American Ambassador to the Dominican Republic to revoke his passport.
In late 2002, the U.S. government revoked Gomez Mazara's visa. According to Gomez Mazara, the details surrounding that decision were complex, but Menendez's pressure on the State Department and Ambassador Hertell played a significant role in the revocation.
Menendez, Gomez Mazara said, targeted him because he provided legal assistance to Dr. Salomon Melgen's former Dominican lover, Yuddheris "Judy" Dorrejo, who Melgen unsuccessfully sued in 2000 for close to $1 million. He says Dorrejo used him as a contact with U.S. officials so she could travel to the States to testify in her own defense during the proceedings for the Melgen lawsuit.
Gomez Mazara charges that then-Congressman Menendez falsely claimed that he had been involved in the 2002 murder of Martin Pimentel, who was said to also have been a lover at one time of Ms. Dorrejo.
Six months after Melgen lost the Palm Beach County suit, then-Congressman Menendez linked Gomez Mazara's name to the murdered Pimentel, who had served briefly as a political assistant to then Dominican President Meija. Subsequently, Gomez Mazara told Acento, Menendez made more direct accusations in handwritten notes sent to the American Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Hans Hertell. According to Gomez Mazara, former Ambassador Hertell has kept the handwritten notes.
On October 10, 2002, during hearings before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on International Relations, then-Congressman Menendez linked Gomez Mazara's name to the murder of Pimentel and implied he was involved in the murders of four other Dominican political appointees. During his question time, Menendez grilled the State Department's Otto Reich and DEA's Roger Guevara on what they knew about the case and specifically any involvement by Gomez. The two appointees knew nothing about either.
Statements in the Congressional hearings and his subsequent pressuring of American Ambassador Hertell through hand written notes had an immediate impact on Gomez Mazara. In the Acento interview, Gomez Mazara described that impact:
[W]hen I was in Puerto Rico and when I returned to the Dominican Republic, I receive information that my visa[to the United States] was suspended. Who gives me this information? Chris Urse. This was a false case in which they linked me to drug trafficking...
When I was linked to the made-up involvement in drug trafficking, Ambassador Hertell comes to my office and tells me that the Dominican government must cooperate with joint efforts [with the US] against drug trafficking. And I said, listen Mr. Ambassador, I was very upset and I tell him, this is not happening because of drug trafficking, this involves money laundering. Ambassador Hertell was very upset with me...
Two months later, they informed me that my visa had been taken away.
Gomez Mazara also told his story to Univision on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, of this week. He is now a leading national political figure in the Dominican Republic. According to the Acento interview, he claims Melgen approached him at a cocktail party in 2012 and said, "If I'd known more about you, I wouldn't have done what I did to you."
Whether or not that is true, Menendez's actions in the subcommittee in 2002 are very odd. He spends the bulk of his time discussing the murder of an alleged drug dealer and a mid-level Dominican government official no one in the room has heard of, one who just happens to have taken steps defending the interests of a woman on the other side of a Melgen lawsuit.
Photo credit: Juan Camilo Cortes / Acento.com.do