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Daily News - 15 July 1998

Extradition bill passed by Congress
The Chamber of Deputies passed an extradition bill that authorizes the Executive Branch to extradite persons suspect of modern day crimes such as illicit drug dealing and money laundering. The bill had already been approved by the Senate on 8 July. It is now expected to be signed into law by President Leonel Fernández within the next two weeks.
The bill also authorizes the extradition of those suspect of murder, kidnapping, violation and abuse of minors, and contraband of historic and archaeological artifacts.
The bill establishes that persons extradited can be sentenced only up to a maximum of 30 years in prison, the maximum penalty in Dominican justice that does not admit the death penalty.
The U.S. Government had intensely lobbied for the passing of the bill with key U.S. government officials visiting the DR. The US has requested some 30 suspects be extradited to stand trial in the US, most for drug-related charges.
Following stronger policing of the Mexican-US route for transshipment of illicit drugs to the US, the DR has been increasingly used by drug dealers who sought refuge in their homeland.
The extradition bill modernizes the content of Law 489 of 22 October of 1969. The 1969 law was the technicality that impeded the Executive Branch from extraditing persons suspect of the abovementioned crimes.
The Fernández administration has been especially cooperative with the U.S. authority to provide facilities for these to police drug traffickers seeking to use Dominican territory for their operations.

President meets with Dr. Balaguer but no comments made
The National Palace announced on Monday that President Leonel Fernández would meet with former statesman Dr. Joaquín Balaguer at the latter's home to discuss matters of interest to the country. The meeting took place on Tuesday for an hour and five minutes. But no comments or press release was issued afterwards. President Fernández this time met with the former President alone. President Fernández is in power today because of the endorsement of then President Balaguer to his candidacy in 1996.

Minister takes a "voladora"
A helicopter of the Dominican Air Force in which the Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña was traveling was forced to make a landing at Km. 59 of the Autopista Duarte. The Minister returned to the city on a "voladora," one of the minibuses that cover the route.

Fidel Castro expected for 20-22 August Caribbean summit
The Ministry of Foreign Relations confirmed that Fidel Castro will be traveling to the Dominican Republic to participate in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Summit and the meeting of members of Cariforum, the organization that gathers Caribbean members of the Lomé Convention. The event will be held in Santo Domingo 20 to 22 August and 13 other chiefs of state and government from the English-speaking Caribbean have confirmed their participation.
Also attending is Rene Preval, President of Haiti.
Cuba is an observer of Cariforum and will participate as invited nation in the Caricom summit. Haiti, a member of Cariforum, is not a full member of Caricom. The Dominican Republic is a member of Cariforum and is slated to sign a free trade agreement with Caricom members during the summit.

Was Castro in the DR in 1958?
The local press is debating whether the President of Cuba, Fidel Castro was in the DR in 1958. Hoy newspaper has published interviews with residents of the southwestern city of Baní that say Castro was allowed by then Dictator Rafael Trujillo to train guerrillas in the military base of Bahía de las Calderas.
Trujillo latter supported Cuban dictator Batista.
Francisca Antonia Pimentel says that while Fidel Castro was born and raised in Cuba, neither his father nor his mother were Cubans. She says Castro was the son of a Spaniard and a Dominican, but that his parents were not married, thus he carried the last name of his mother, Castro.

PRD favors celebration of Pan Am Games
Hatuey Decamps, secretary general of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, the largest opposition party, said that a PRD government would support the staging of the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo in year 2003. Polls show that at the present time, two years from the elections, the PRD is the party to beat. Decamps said that sports is a priority in the PRD government platform. "The PRD supports without any reserves the celebration of this event in Santo Domingo," he said. The site of the Games will be granted in December 1998. Santo Domingo is a strong contender for the site against Medellín, Colombia and Guadalajara, Mexico.

General involved in murder released for humanitarian reasons
Attorney General Abel Rodríguez del Orbe ordered the release from prison of Retired General Salvador Lluberes Montás (Chinino), who is suspect of participating in the murder of journalist Orlando Martínez more than 20 years ago. The General suffers from cancer of the prostate and would like to travel to the US for medical treatment. The Attorney General said that Article 419 of the Penal Code allows him to release inmates that suffer from terminal sicknesses and cannot be treated in government hospitals. General Lluberes had been under arrest at the Ministry of Armed Forces. The General said that he would try to recover his health to attend the court and demonstrate his innocence.

Avenida Luperón to extend to Malecón
The Avenida Luperón will be extended to intersect with the Autopista 30 de Mayo (Malecón), the sea-bordering boulevard that itself is being expanded. The construction will affect the Santo Domingo Savio orphanage. The director of the orphanage, Priest Francisco Lizardo requested that the avenue be extended in a straight line to avoid that it pass near the chapel and the dorms of the interns. The priest complained that the authorities chose to change the direction of the avenue in order not to affect the motels in the area.

Air Santo Domingo announces flights to Haiti
Air Santo Domingo, after a year of domestic flights, announced the start of its first international flights. The airline will be flying to Haiti starting 15 July. The route will be Herrera-Port-au-Prince-Las Americas. The airline has announced an introductory price of US$135 for the round trip. For more information, call (809) 683-8020.

Dollar begins to slide downwards
The dollar is sliding downwards in Dominican exchange banks. From charging those purchasing dollars RD$15.77 earlier this week, the exchange banks are now requesting RD$15.72. The decline occurred despite the fact that the Central Bank increased the purchasing rate of the dollar from RD$15.33 to RD$15.35. Dollars are being bought from RD$15 to RD$15.40 in banks and from street vendors. News reports indicate that the Banco Popular and the Citibank were paying RD$15.20 to the dollar, the Scotiabank and Banco de Reservas were paying RD$15.25.

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