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Daily News - 22 April 1998

DR re-establishes relations with Cuba
The governments of Cuba and the Dominican re-established full diplomatic relations on 16 April 1998. Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre made the announcement on 21 April in a press conference. Concurrently, Minister of Foreign Relations Roberto Robaina made the announcement in Havana, Cuba.
"The re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba is in line with the new foreign policy of the government of President Leonel Fernández, which seeks closer ties with neighboring countries, especially with the Caribbean," said Latorre.
The Dominican Republic broke diplomatic ties with Cuba in June 1959, following the issuing of an Organization of American States resolution. Of the nations that heeded the OAS resolution at the time, only the United States and El Salvador do not have official relations with Cuba.
The DR and Cuba have yet to appoint their ambassadors.
President Fidel Castro is expected to visit in August, 1998 on occasion of the holding in Santo Domingo of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) heads of state summit. During that meeting the DR is expected to sign a free trade agreement with the Caricom.
In December 1997, the Dominican Republic re-established consular relationship with Cuba, enabling Dominican businessmen to trade openly with Cuba.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Michael Stanton said that the U.S. was "very disappointed" with the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. The U.S. official argued that democratic conditions are not present in Cuba.
An estimated 5,000 Cubans live in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican consulate in Cuba reports there are 60 Dominicans living in Cuba.
The Dominican government recently relocated the squatters that had occupied the former Embassy of Cuba in Santo Domingo, a Gazcue hacienda.

Easier to renew passports
Annie Felipe, director of the National Department of Passports, announced that her department will be installing booths at the Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata international airports to facilitate the renewal of passports. She said that her department has been authorized by the Dominican tax bureau to charge an additional tax of 500 pesos for the expedite issuance of a passport. This would be in addition to the RD$275 fee for the six-year renewal of a passport. Dominicans will now be able to renew their passports minutes prior to bordering their flight.
She said the booths should be operational within the next two months.

Junta rejects third party possession of voting cards
The Junta Central Electoral spoke against third party's retaining the cedula, as the identification and voting card is known in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Juan Sully Bonnelly said it is wrong for any person to have the cedula of another, especially in times of national elections. The Junta issued the opinion but did not press charges as part of investigations into the case of the secretary general of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, Esteban Amancio, who was accused by the Partido Revolucionario Dominicana of illegally retaining over 700 cedulas of voters in the San Juan de la Maguana province. The Dr. Juan Sully Bonnelly said that no officer of the government, municipality or any third person can possess the ID and voting card of another person, regardless of the reason.

Illegal boat trips are big business
An article in the Hoy newspaper said that the illegal boat trips to Puerto Rico are big business. A report by journalist Domingo Páez estimated that organizers reap in about RD$200 million a year. The journalist estimated that some 10,000 Dominicans cross over using the services of East Coast illegal boat trip organizers. The journalist says that the travelers expose themselves to being raped, swindled, and even assassinated. They also must endure several week waits for the favorable weather conditions, that the adequate boat be available, and bypass local Navy vigilance. Travelers leave from Nagua, Miches, Higuey, Sabana de Nisibón, Boca de Yuma or La Romana on the East Coast.

Dominicans favor the President, but are not so happy about how things are going
Most Dominicans feel President Fernández government is doing all right. Dominicans polled in a Listín Diario-Sigma Dos poll said that the Fernández administration's performance has been okay (41%), good (20.9%) or very good (2.0%). 33.7% described it as bad (27%) or very bad (1.6%). In the same poll, 52.5% of Dominicans said they feel the country is doing okay (38.8%), well (11.8%) or very well (1.9%). 57.3% nevertheless felt that the country was doing bad (30.4%), very bad (16.9%). In the survey, 76 out of every 100 Dominicans answered that the electricity crisis is the most serious problem affecting Dominicans. The high cost of basic products, unemployment potable water service and delinquency were also mentioned as principal problems.

Tourism bourse at the Dominican Fiesta
Fifteen countries are participating in the II Bolsa Turistica del Caribe at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel. Trade show that is open for professionals from during weekdays and to the general public on Saturday. Luis Felipe Aquino is the organizer of the event. The BTC expanded this year to 15 countries, up from five participating countries last year. Foreign exhibitors come from Curaçao, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, El Salvador, the United States, Italy, Nicaragua, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela.

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