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Daily News - 22 June 1998

DR and Haiti agree to work for better relations
The DR and Haiti agreed to strive to achieve a better understanding of both nations, and signed agreements and protocols on migration, drug trafficking, culture, sports, education, health, and customs. In the memorandum on the meeting of President Leonel Fernández and President Rene Preval in Port-au-Prince last weekend, both countries agreed to continue strengthening relations, to respect the differences and characteristics of each, and to together tackle the shared challenges shared of these days of globalization.

Trip was a double victory
The director of Information, Analysis and Strategy of the Presidency, Carlos Doré Cabral considered that the recent trip of President Leonel Fernández to Haiti is a double triumph for the country. He said that it is part of the general strategy of the Fernández government to position the DR in an active leadership position in the international community, and it is an advancement in DR-Haitian relations. He commented that after the United States, the DR's most important commercial partner, Haiti is the most important country with which the DR has relations.

Former ambassador pleased with visit
The former ambassador of Haiti in the DR (1991-97), Guy Alexandre said that the visit of President Fernández is the climax of seven years of efforts to create a base for the understanding between the two people. President Rene Preval announced last weekend that he would visit the DR in August to attend the summit of Caribbean chiefs of state that will be held in Santo Domingo. During the event, the DR hopes to sign a free trade agreement with the English-speaking Caribbean (Caricom). Even President Fidel Castro of Cuba is coming for that event. "We have entered into a new epoch for the two people," said Alexandre. He commented that President Fernández's trip to Haiti was perceived as positive and a confirmation of the process of improving of relations by all Haitians, from the businessmen to the humble man on the street.

Joint police force
Haiti and the DR have agreed to create a joint police force to patrol the frontier. The police would be in charge of the security of the border, would seek to impede the access of illegal citizens and control contraband of merchandise, primarily illicit drugs. The agreement was prepared by the bilateral Haiti-DR commission and approved by the Presidents of Haiti and the DR during the visit of President Fernández to Haiti over the weekend.

Customs agreement
The DR and Haiti will execute a customs agreement as a first step towards the eventual signing of a free trade agreement between both countries. The customs agreement also seeks to eliminate merchandise contraband and customs fraud through the land frontier. The draft of the agreement is being improved by the DR and Haitian bilateral commission. Both countries are preparing the agreement that will regulate the flow of motor vehicles through the frontier and will set the legal mechanisms to penalize theft of vehicles between both countries.

Health agreement with Haiti
Dominican health technicians will begin an exhaustive evaluation of the Haitian health situation this July. The survey will be carried out to determine the areas that need to be reinforced first in order to apply the health cooperation agreement signed by both governments. Dr. Rafael Schiffino, of the Ministry of Health, is the coordinator for the Dominican side. He explained to the press that it is in the best interest of the DR to assist the Haitian authorities so that mass vaccinations can be carried out to eliminate sicknesses, such as malaria, measles, rabies, and others such as AIDS, tuberculosis, parasites, malnutrition, anthrax, and filariasis. Many of these illnesses have been eradicated in the DR, but mass immigration of illegal Haitians has its toll on the Dominican preventive health measures.

Congressional politics in Haiti
President Leonel Fernández traveled to Haiti with congressmen Amable Aristy Castro, president of the Senate, and who was one of only two PRSC senators in the 1998 senate that opens, and Hector Peguero Mendez (PRD-Independencia), president of the Chamber of Deputies. During the visit, President Fernández went out of his way to be photographed and to spend time with deputy Peguero during his visit to Haiti. Peguero lost the PRD internal elections to choose the PRD candidate to preside the Chamber of Deputies when the new session opens in August 1998.
This could be a case of divide and conquer. Apparently, President Fernández seeks to lure Peguero Méndez to his side in order to receive favorable votings for different issues in the new Congress. Already, deputy-elect Reinaldo Pared Pérez of the PLD has said that the deputies of that party could vote in favor of Peguero Méndez if he sought the presidency again.

A message to Haitian Congress to move ahead
With his very open integration with the opposition congressmen in Haiti, the Dominican President also sought to bring a message to the Haitian congressmen that it is possible to work together with opposition groups for the common good of the nation.
Indeed, the Listín Diario carried a report that Haitian congressmen were impressed with the Dominican statesman. President Fernández exhorted Haitian congressmen to preserve dialogue as an instrument for the strengthening of democracy and the search of solutions to problems that internally affect both nations in the areas of unemployment, poverty, health and education.
"Even if we are and will continue to be two nations, two cultures, two peoples, we are one island, one ecosystem and are obliged to reach agreements and help each other to preserve the environment, our soils, our forests, our river basins and our coasts," said President Fernández in Haiti.
"The Dominican President gave us a true lesson. He encouraged us to move ahead of our crisis," said Hipolythe Melius, chief of the cabinet of the president of the Lower House. "His message was very positive, he spoke sincerely and motivated there be exchanges between Dominicans and Haitians," said senator Edgart Leblanc, president of the National Assembly. Vasco Thernelan, president of the Lower House said, "With this visit of President Fernández to Haiti, the doors of this country are open. We are going to find ways to facilitate good communication between the Dominican and the Haitian peoples."
President Fernández invoked Jacques Roumain's words when calling for unity of the Haitian and DR people. "Let us organize a grand feast to forge a brotherly relationship to resolve the common problems, especially the flagellum of drug trafficking," said President Fernández.
He motivated both countries to work together for development, overcoming prejudices, be able to speak, in a framework of mutual respect on common issues.

The ego of Aristide
President Leonel Fernández was not able to meet with former President Jean Bertrand Aristide after the latter at last minute rejected an invitation made by the Dominican President to join him for breakfast at the El Rancho hotel where he was staying and holding meetings. In his visit, President Fernandez met with former President Leslie Manigat, former Prime Minister Marc Bazin, with Serge Gilles of the Haitian Conference of Political Parites, with Gerald Pierret-Charles and Rosnie Smarthy, also Victor Benoit, Renau Berardin and Jesnet Poneaud at El Rancho. Aristide would only accept to meet with President Fernández at his "bunker" or luxurious mansion on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Some sectors said that Aristide is not interested in strengthening DR-Haiti relations rather in satisfying his ego. Dominican press felt that he did not attend the breakfast "because it was not his fiesta, he did not organize it nor was he the star of the show."
Two months ago, Aristide made a technical stop at Las Americas International Airport when flying to Haiti and refused to leave the plane, despite facilities offered by Dominican authorities. Aristide, when President of Haiti, aggressively fostered the worst of relations with the DR.
Aristide is likely to win the presidency in the elections of year 2001.

Balaguer and the Cardinal oppose the towers
Ministry of Public Works' plans to build nine 22-apartment luxury apartments on lots belonging to the Plaza de la Salud medical complex got a blow over the weekend when the influential Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez joined former President Joaquín Balaguer and made public his strong opposition to the construction of the towers on the Plaza de la Salud grounds. López Rodríguez presides the board that supervises the Plaza de la Salud, that he described as the most modern health complex in Latin America.
"I consider it has been an absolutely inadmissible form of proceeding to order the construction in the medical complex's grounds," he said. He commented that the construction violates elementary norms of education and respect for institutions, on his Sunday telecast on his TV program "Fe y Acontecer" on the Catholic Church's television station, Televida, Canal 41.
"If the President of the Republic ordered so then what they should have done is inform the board, if he has not ruled so then it means he (minister of Public Works) is appropriating a right that nobody has given him," said the Cardinal.
Former President Joaquin Balaguer told the press that he is sure that the towers will not be built.
The construction of the towers violates the plans for the center that were drawn up consulting with the University of Harvard professionals.

Port renovation is coming
Deputy Minister of Tourism, César de los Santos, who is in charge of the North Coast, said that the government will soon begin dredging and renovations at the Port of Puerto Plata will be carried out so that transatlantic cruise ships can dock there. Several sectors of Puerto Plata are promoting a strike in protest of the government's lack of attention to Puerto Plata. The Puerto Plata sectors also demand the application of the bill that would force the Winter Baseball League to allow the Delfines, the Puerto Plata professional baseball team, to place in the upcoming October baseball season. Also sought is the opening of a labor court, the construction of the El Copey and Imbert-Guananico-El Mamey highway, the opening of a branch of the state university, the construction of a regional hospital and the completion of state works that are incomplete. Cesar de los Santos called to put aside the call for a 48 hour strike saying that it would do more harm than good. Puerto Plata depends on the tourism industry.

On the way to a new record
The Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa continued his hot streak hitting his 17th home run of June - and 30th of the year - on Sunday, in a game the team lost 7-2 to the Phillies. In
the Cubs' last nine games, Sosa has hit 10 homers and the team is 4-5. The Chicago Tribune said that Sosa's image is best summarized with him standing on second base with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. The 30 home runs are enough for him to tie the record of Willie Mays of most home runs in any month for the National League. Sosa has eight games still left in June and thus has a good chance to break the Major League record for homers in a single month of 18, set by Detroit's Rudy York in August 1937. Sosa's run was connected in the fourth inning and received an ovation from the fans attending Wrigley Field in Chicago. Sosa has batted 10 homers in his latest nine games, with 34 runs batted in, a new record for the Cubs. In the last 22 games, he has connected 21 home runs. He is on his way to break the record of home runs of the National League that is 56, set by Hack Wilson in 1930. He is the only player in the history of the Cubs that has 30 homers and 30 stolen bases. He established these records twice, in 1993 and 1995. He has two campaigns of 20-20 (1994-1997).

DR wins Juvenile CentroBasket
The Dominican Republic national team didn't lose a game in the Central American and Caribbean Basketball Championships held in Mexico. The DR defeated Puerto Rico 76-75 to win the gold medal. Cuba was second. The team was coached by former national basketball team player José Domínguez.

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