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Daily News - 19 June 1998

President Fernández is in Haiti
President Leonel Fernández received a warm welcome from Haitians that lined up along the road from the international airport to the city of Port-au-Prince. Earlier, at the international airport, Presidents Fernández and Rene Garcia Preval of Haiti expressed their hopes for the start of a new era in bilateral relations between both countries.
President Fernández traveled to Haiti yesterday for a 36-hour stay. This is the first time in the past 62 years that a Dominican statesman sleeps overnight on Haitian territory.
"We have come here with the firm purpose of strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation that should exist between nations such as the Dominican Republic and Haiti, that more than sharing an island, share the challenges of the end of this millennium," said President Fernández upon arriving to Haiti on the presidential helicopter.
President Fernández chose to travel to Haiti with probably the most numerous high-ranking delegation of Dominican officials that has ever accompanied him abroad. Some 90 Dominican officials traveled to Haiti for the event, most by bus.
"We want to start a new era based on dialogue, on a dialogue that strengthens the democratic process and the search for solutions to the economic and social problems that affect our two nations.
In his welcoming speech, President Preval said: "Instead of suffering because of the nearness, we have the opportunity to nourish our relations. This visit will permit a more in depth look and advances towards the conquest of a common ideal so that we can build together a sustainable development as our two people aspire. We have to bring together our efforts to reinforce the faith of our people in the construction of a better future."

Ministers of foreign relations announce agreements
Ministers of Foreign Relations of Dominican Republic and Haiti, Eduardo Latorre and Fritz Longchamp announced that the Dominican-Haitian Bilateral Committee had advanced on agreements in the areas of health, education, sports, tourism, agriculture, migration and commerce. Minister of Foreign Relations Latorre said that advances were made but the most important of all is that the two nations are on talking grounds. "Alas," said the Minister, "there are many years ahead during which the mixed committee can work together to seek solutions on the difficulties. That is, we cannot solve everything at once."
The least advanced agreement was that of migration where the parties only were able to agreee on the framework for continued negotiations. One of the most advanced agreements was that of health issues, where a common program to combat illnesses was drawn up. In the area of tourism, the Dominicans will assist Haiti in developing a tourism product. In environmental matters, the DR will assist Haiti in strengthening their institutions and identifying projects of mutual interest, such as frontier lakes. In agriculture, the two countries agreed to work together to fight plagues that affect crops and animals. The rector of the state university of the DR is in Haiti to sign an agreement with the state university of Haiti for university level programs. Likewise, a program that will provide for cultural sharing through activities promoted at museums will be signed. On the presidential agenda, is also the establishment of joint measures to combat the scourge of narcotics traffic on the common borderline.

Businessman favors free trade agreement with Haiti
The general manager of Rayovac in the Dominican Republic, former president of the Asociación de Industriales de Herrera, and former candidate to vice mayor of Santo Domingo for the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, Antonio Espín said that it is in the best interest of the DR to sign a free trade agreement with Haiti. Espín explained that this agreement would be more beneficial than the ones being negotiated with the English-speaking Caribbean (Caricom) and Central American nations.
Espín feels that a free trade agreement would spur an increase in production and employment in this country. He stressed that contrary to the case of the DR and Haiti, at present there are no low cost transport alternatives linking Central America or Caricom nations.
More so, he said that the entire population of the English-speaking Caribbean is less than that of Haiti. On the downside, Haiti's population is the poorest in the American continent, considerably limiting what its inhabitants can purchase from the DR.

To build or not to build
The press has been very critical of the announcement of Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña that the government will undertake the construction of nine 22-floor towers each in lots adjacent to the Plaza de la Salud, the high-tech medical center built by the previous Balaguer administration.
Supposedly, the buildings will be used to house the Olympic Village for the year 2003 Pan American Games for which the country is seeking the site. There is much skepticism that the DR would obtain this site, though. There is even more controversy over whether it would be good for the Dominican Republic where sports facilities suffer from lack of government maintenance and where government are said to be others.
Hoy newspaper political analyst Angel Barrioso criticized the construction of the buildings. Barrioso, in his column questioned why the towers when the Fernández government has so many other priorities. The PLD government has been criticized for not completing works left half way by the Balaguer administration when it abandoned the presidency in 1996 and commenced and not finished by the Fernández administration itself.
Minister Diandino Peña is a builder who worked with the office that supervises government works under the Balaguer administration. He went on to be better known as a very successful builder of luxury apartments, and achieved notoriety as the financier of the Leonel Fernández presidential campaign.
Defending the project, that has been rejected by the board of directors of the Plaza de la Salud, engineer Peña says that the buildings will bring an urban renewal to the area that is surrounded by whorehouses and cabarets, small mechanic workshops and other small businesses. Furthermore, he says the start of their construction will improve the country's chances of winning the Pan American Games in year 2003. He favors the country holding the games as he says these will bring 7,500 athletes from 42 countries and will stimulate the Dominican economy as well as be positive for the tourism industry.
A report in the Listín Diario says that the apartments will be sold at cost to upper middle class Dominicans with connections to the government party.

New strategic plan seeks to change attitude towards corruption
Attorney General Abel Rodríguez del Orbe announced the government Corruption Prevention National Strategic Plan, which he described as a frontal attack against corruption within the country's public administration. The plan was presented by Dr. Abel Rodríguez del Orbe to rectors, vice-rectors and deans of various universities, with the objective of integrating these academic centers to the creation of a counter-culture that can terminate the "white collar crimes" that prevail at the public administration level. The Attorney General hopes the approach will help create a counter-culture to fight the corruption culture, rebuff corruption and the misappropriation of public funds.
Rodríguez del Orbe said, "...the corruption culture makes the heart turn blind to the abuses of power against the public property; we do not even blush to see that officers who arrived on bicycles at the beginning of their tenure, upon departing, live in palaces and ride sport utility vehicles that cost millions of pesos."
The plan seeks to: 1) substantially reduce the incidence of corruption in the Dominican Republic; 2) bring about transparency in the different activities of public administration, which implies that the citizens know the destiny of public funds and the administration of such funds; and 3) develop a culture based on honesty, work, vocation of service and respect of the law.
The Attorney General stressed that sanctions should be applied to the corrupt as well as to the corrupting agent.

PRD chooses presidents of congressional houses
Deputy elect Winston Arnaud (PRD-National District) and senator Ramón Alburquerque (PRD-Monte Plata) were chosen by the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano to be the candidates for the presidency of the Chamber of Commerce and the Senate come 16 August 1998. The PRD is the majority party in both houses, so it is expected that they will be elected, unless the party decides to replace these candidates for other PRD men. Arnaud received 51 votes against 29 of his closest contender, Rafael Peguero Méndez (PRD-Independencia), who sought re-election to the post. Alburquerque was chosen unanimously, after senators Milagros Ortiz Bosch (PRD-National District) and Vicente Sánchez Baret (PRD-Sánchez Ramírez) retired their candidacies. The candidates to vice president of the chambers are Rafael Gamundi Cordero for the Chamber of Deputies and Jesus Vásquez for the Senate. The PRD also decided that senator Vicente Sanchez Baret would be spokesman for the party in the Senate and Rafael (Fafa) Taveras would be spokesmen for the PRD deputies in the Chamber of Deputies.

Seven Dominicans in All Star Baseball Game?
Seven Dominicans may be on the roster of the upcoming All Star Game of the Major League Baseball that will take place in Denver, Colorado. Possible players are Alex Rodríguez, Pedro Martínez, Bartolo Colón, Moisés Alou, José Lima, Carlos Pérez and Sammy Sosa. The final vote will take place on Tuesday, 25 June. The two team managers will be Jim Leyland of the Marlins and Mike Hargrove of the Indians.
A report in Hoy newspaper gives the following background on the mentioned Dominican ball players:
Alex Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners is batting .298 with 24 homers and 52 runs batted in.
Pedro Martínez of the Boston Red Sox is expected to have won 10 games by the time the All Star Games is held. He has a record of 8-2, and 3.46. He was the winner of the Cy Young of the National League and is the best-paid player in the Major Leagues.
Bartolo Colón of the Cleveland Indians has a record of 6-5 and 2.73. He has completed five games.
Carlos Pérez of the Montreal Expos has a record of 6-5 and 3.48.
Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs is batting .333, and is second on the Cubs, with 25 home runs and has driven in 64 runs. Sosa has homered 16 times in his last 19 games, including three in one game this week against Milwaukee. He's averaging a home run every 10.56 at-bats, and is on track to hit 58 home runs
Moisés Alou of the Houston Astros is batting .333 with 15 home runs and 58 runs batted in.
José Lima, pitching for the Houston Astros has a record of 7-3 and 3.39.

Dominican national team defeats Peru
The Dominican national women's team defeated Peru for the third consecutive day in the friendship series that took place at the Olympic Center volleyball pavilion in Santo Domingo. The Peruvians were here to train for the world volleyball games that open in November in Japan. The Dominican team is competing for the first time in the world games.

Dominicans defeat Cuba in basketball
The Dominican juvenile team defeated Cuba 102-81 to make it to the finals of the B Group of the Central American and Caribbean Juvenile Basketball Championships that are taking place in Mexico. In the semifinals, the Dominican team will now confront Mexico, Puerto Rico will match Cuba and Jamaica, the Bahamas. The Dominican team seeks to earn one of seven spots for the right to participate in the Pan American Juvenile Championships that will be held in Puerto Plata later this year. The DR won the silver medal in the 1994 Games.

DR participates in regional baseball championship
The Dominican Republic is a contender for a place to participate in the world baseball championship that will be held in Italy, July 18-August 12. The DR is participating in the Pan American Baseball Tournament in Nicaragua. The Dominicans are competing against nine other teams from the Americas. For the first time professions are on the rosters. Teams from Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, the DR, Canada, the US, Argentina, Honduras and Panama are participating in the nine-day series in the cities of Managua, Masaya and León. The tournament ends 26 June. Cuba already qualified to participate in the world championship in Italy.

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