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Daily News - 25 March 1998

Emergency room assistance now mandatory
The Ministry of Public Health made it mandatory that private clinics and hospitals provide first aid and emergency services to accident crash victims. Once in stable condition, the patients may be transferred to state hospitals if necessary. It has been a common practice for physicians in emergency rooms of private clinics and hospitals to refuse admittance of persons unlikely to afford the services. The Ministry furthermore said that the National Police will no longer be able to detain Dominicans that assist crash victims. Dominicans are reticent Good Samaritans because anyone who helps a victim is arrested. The new resolution says that the persons will not be detained unless they confess their guilt or the circumstances prove the person is guilty.

Increase in boat trips to Puerto Rico seeks to hide drug smuggling operations
The Listín Diario reports that in the past six weeks there has been an increase in the number of illegal boat trips that have departed from Dominican coasts en route to Puerto Rico. The increase comes at a time when the U.S. and Dominican navies are participating in the Frontier Lance operation to combat drug trafficking in the area. The U.S. Coast Guard has reinforced vigilance in the area adding five airplanes capable of night-time surveillance that are based in Aguadilla, the closest point between the DR and Puerto Rico. Press reports indicate that the increase in the attempts by Dominicans to migrate to Puerto Rico by boat is funded by narcotics dealers in order to force the airplanes and ships participating in the Frontier Lance operation to focus their attention on the route to Aguadilla while the drug smugglers make it into Puerto Rico by way of Ponce. U.S. authorities estimate that in the past 45 days more than 100 unauthorized boats have departed Dominican shores. This figure includes drug-smuggling craft. Earlier this week, a small ship capsized in rough seas, with a death toll of 40. Reportedly, the 65 occupants of the ship paid upwards of RD$10,000 for the one-way ticket to Puerto Rico. El Siglo newspaper reported that the Puerto Rican Coast Guard authorities have returned 321 Dominicans so far this year caught while attempting illegal entrance to Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard last week rescued 140 Dominicans that were on board another illegal expedition that suffered mechanical difficulties on the way to Puerto Rico.

Mayor orders taking down political signs
The Mayor of Santo Domingo, Rafael Suberví Bonilla ordered that all political propaganda that may affect the visibility of drivers be removed. The city government had already advised the leading political parties of the decision. The municipality is also removing large signs that are located on pedestrian bridges. Recently, a woman denounced she was raped by a man who hid behind a large sign on a pedestrian bridge.

Cattle and farm products fair
The Feria Ganadera is taking place in the Ciudad Ganadera on the Malecón of Santo Domingo. The annual event presents the best of Dominican agriculture and livestock farms. Farm products are also for sale at low prices. For instance, red beans are selling at the fair for RD$8 the pound, rice for RD$4.90 the pound, red onions for RD$3 the pound, and plantains for RD$1.00 the unit. The fair will last all week long. Admission is free to this family event.

Olympic Center to be repaired
Minister of Public Works engineer Diandino Peña said that the rehabilitation of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center, the principal sports park of the country, is a top priority of the Fernández administration. Eng. Peña told the press that the park will be repaired in its entirety. Works will start on the basketball pavilion, the Palacio de los Deportes. The other priority is the Olympic pool. Thereafter, repairs will continue with the rehabilitation of the Olympic stadium. Peña made the announcement to the press accompanied by Minister of Sports Juan Marichal and the president of the Dominican Olympic Committee, José Joaquín Puello.

Show de Cristina prohibited
The Comisión Nacional de Espectáculos Públicos, the local government organization that regulates show business, prohibited the passing of the Show de Cristina in the 5 to 6 pm time slot. The organization's president, Laureano Guerrero said that Channel 5 should move the program to a slot after 10 pm given the immoral content of the talk shows. In the past months there has been an increase in the number of shows presenting Dominican nationals in demeaning situations. Recently local TV producer, Nuria Piera presented several former participants that admitted that they had been paid to impersonate characters as per scripts given to them by the producers of El Show de Cristina, described as the Spanish-language Oprah Winfrey show. Channel 5 has rejected changing the hour of the talk show alleging that in all other Latin American countries it is shown at the same time as here.

New cedulas
The Junta Central Electoral (JCE) said that cedula bearers must visit the organization as of 16 June to request new personal identification documents. The JCE said that the new cedulas will be different in format but will retain the same numbers assigned to the bearers. Foreign residents also need to apply for the new cedulas.

Is Balaguer backing Peña for mayor?
Political commentator Ramón Colombo speculated that nonagenarian several-time President of the Republic, Joaquín Balaguer, leader of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) could be endorsing José Francisco Peña Gómez, leader of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) in his aspirations to become the next mayor of Santo Domingo in the 16 May 1998 election. Peña met at Balaguer's home on occasion of the visit of important members of the International Socialist party that included several former presidents of Latin America. Balaguer told Peña: "I am proud of you, my friend Peña Gómez, because you are an example to the world. I do not know of any other man with your high moral standards, of your fighting spirit, and your integrity, and the fortitude you have shown in these difficult years. May God protect you. You are a symbol for the Dominican nationality." Peña replied: "The feelings are reciprocal, President." Peña suffers from cancer of the pancreas. Balaguer's comments are more interesting because the PRSC based much of its presidential campaign in 1996, when it backed Leonel Fernández of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, on the fear of Dominicans that Peña Gómez would foster an increase in Haitian migration, given his Haitian roots.

CDE says that Impedance barge contract is a very good one
The Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad, the state electricity utility, defended the contract signed with the Cayman Power Barge for the purchase of power from the Impedance barge. Engineer Carlos Jeremías Santana, deputy administrator in charge of power generation at the CDE, said that the plant has been totally reconstructed. He also said that the contract signed with the Cayman Power Barge is the best signed by the CDE so far with any private supplier of power. The contract includes a clause by which if the CDE is not satisfied with the service, the contract can be rescinded within the first 90 days. Furthermore, the barge is penalized with US$1,120 per hour not generated. Santana said that the CDE will pay US$0.07 per kilowatt of energy generated by the barge.  

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