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Daily News - 12 March 1998

Major force combats drug trafficking in Caribbean
More than 10,000 pounds of cocaine have been confiscated as a result of the first 10 days of Operation Frontier Lance, a joint effort of the Dominican/U.S. military and drug officers in territorial waters. The U.S. naval fleet captured three drug-carrying boats - one in La Mona Channel, between the D.R. and Puerto Rico, another 110 miles off Cabo Falso, Honduras, and the other near the Turks & Caicos Islands off the D.R.'s north coast. The operation primarily seeks to limit activity of drug traffickers operating the Colombia-Haiti-Dominican Republic-Puerto Rico-United States route, using Dominican territorial waters. The naval and air convoy is made up of five Hercules C-130 and Falcon U-25, HH-65 Dolphin helicopters, HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and several naval units in addition to Dominican Air Force units, two 5-37, 5-34, Bell helicopters, among other equipment. The director of the DNCD, General Luis Humeau Hidalgo, said that since Operation Frontier Lance has begun there has been an increase in number of boats carrying illegal immigrants, as drug smugglers attempt to mislead the fleet.

Protest at the UASD
The Asociación de Empleados Universitarios blocked off the entrance to the Rector's office of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, protesting the cancellation of the directors of that union. The union that represents the office workers of the university has impeded the registration of students and the commencement of classes at the state university. The Consejo Universitario, the governing board of the university, ruled yesterday to cancel the union directors and place an ultimatum for employees to return to work. The strike has been going on for a month.

Only four law schools are recommended
The Attorney General of the nation, Dr. Abel Rodríguez del Orbe, said that only four Dominican universities have adequate law schools. These are: the Universidad Pedro Henríquez Ureña, the Universidad Iberoamericana, the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra and the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. He has been critical of the lawyers produced by some other 15 Dominican universities, saying on several occasions that the lack of qualifications is a detriment to the justice system in general. The deficient training of many lawyers has been most apparent these days when the Supreme Court of Justice has been holding hearings to choose the new judges.

Brazilian-Dominican company to build tunnels
The Ministry of Public Works chose the Brazilian-Dominican consortium, Méndez Junior-Méndez Cabral for the construction of two tunnels at the 27 de Febrero Avenue and the expansion of that avenue to 10 lanes. The company which has won two tenders to choose the contractor of the tunnels has restarted the works that have been paralyzed for several weeks as a result of an impasse between former Minister of Public Works Jimmy Durán and administrative secretary of the Presidency, engineer Diandino Peña, actual Minister of Public Works. The company won the first contest for the works that was held in 1994. The work met with the opposition of businesses in the area, and the project was suspended by the then Balaguer administration. In March 1997, the contest was again held, but then Minister of Public Works Jimmy Durán disagreed with the costings of the project and instead purchased construction equipment so that the Ministry of Public Works itself could carry out the work , arguing that the winners of the tender had over evaluated the cost of the project.

Blind children sports competition
The First International Sports Meet for Blind Children will be held in Santo Domingo 18-22 March. Blind children from El Salvador, Uruguay, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic will participate in the event that will take place at the volleyball pavilion in the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center and other local sports facilities. The children will compete in track and field, swimming, and domino. The marathon will be held from the front of the Hotel Jaragua through the Malecón until reaching the Escuela Nacional de Ciegos. The swimming event will be held at the 25 meter pool of the Dominican Medical Association.

Continental caters to Latin American traveler
Continental Airlines, the only direct air link between the Dominican Republic and Newark, New Jersey, says that it is concentrating on increasing its participation in the Latin American market. According to operations chief Peter Hernández and regional manager Alex Santana, the Latin American market is growing 8 to 10% per year, and Continental hopes to increase its share of this traffic. Continental operates some 2,000 flights a month to and from Latin American countries. He says the service on board caters to the Latin American passenger that requires more space to move around in the cabin and usually carries lots of luggage. 75% of the personnel serving Latin American routes are Spanish-speaking. The Continental executives announced the incorporation of new Boeing 737-700 jets to the Santo Domingo-Newark route as of April. These modern airlines provide more comfort to passengers. He said that Continental is purchasing 200 new jets within the next two years. 20% of Continental's employees are of Latin origin. The Continental Newark flight is attractive to the 1,200,000 million Dominicans that live in the New York, New Jersey, Washington, Providence, Rhode Island and Boston area.

Colmados protest government competition
Several federations of colmado owners have protested the "Alimentos para Todos" program of Inespre, a government institution that was on the way to being eliminated in these times of open markets, free trade, competition and globalization. Inespre is now in charge of the new food sales program. The colmado owners complain that the state food outlets are unfair competition with the colmados as they sell subsidized goods. Several of the mobile stores have been set up near the colmados in order to sell to colmado clients. The store owners say that if the government wants to sell subsidized goods it should use the colmados. He said that the colmados are losing sales and clients to the state. The authorities have set up 2,000 state stores to sell the subsidized goods.

New superintendent of insurance
The government appointed Dr. Euclides Gutiérrez Féliz, formerly director general of the Corporación Dominicana de Empresas Estatales (Corde), as the new Superintendent of Insurance. He replaces Carlos Amarante Baret, who is running for senator for the province of Espaillat on the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana ticket.

Peña and Delancer keep close ties to President
National Palace reporter for Hoy, Manuel Jiménez, writes that those who may think that engineer Diandino Peña and Juan Deláncer are no longer part of the inner presidential circle, should be set straight. He comments that Diandino Peña, a private builder who was one of the key financiers of the Leonel Fernández presidential campaign, is a neighbor of the President. President Fernández lives in the apartment building built by Diandino Peña, on the same floor as engineer Diandino Peña. Furthermore, Juan Delancer, recently appointed director of the state television station, Radio Televisión Dominicana, first goes to his office in the National Palace in the morning before leaving for his new office at the television station.

PLD leads in Santiago and Duarte province
According to a recently-held Gallup Poll, the results of which appear in the Rumbo weekly news magazine, the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana is gaining politically. The poll shows that the PLD has the preference of voters in the provicnces of Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís) and Santiago, with 49%. In Santiago, the PLD candidate, Julián Serulle, is preferred for senator by 50% of the votes. Juan Octavio Ceballos has the support of 42% of the votes in the northeastern province of Duarte.

From Costa Rica to Havana via Santo Domingo
Persons traveling to Cuba will now be able to do so aboard Lacsa flights. The Costa Rican airline will begin three weekly flights to Havana from Santo Domingo on April 1. The Executive Branch has yet to issue the route certificate. Another Central American region airline, Copa, from Panama, offers a Havana-Panama-Santo Domingo connection.

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