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Daily News - 11 November 1998

President urges solution to JCE crisis
President Leonel Fernández said yesterday during the inauguration of the Casa Nacional del Diálogo that the solution to the Junta Central Electoral deadlock has to be found within its own organic law. In his opinion, the judges could resign and the Senate appoint totally impartial judges, or the law be reformed to admit two additional judges that would represent the interests of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano. The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano-majority Senate elected a new board of the Junta Central Electoral, including members that have been singled out as militant PRD persons. The PRSC has demanded that these resign and an impartial board be elected.
The Casa Nacional del Diálogo, is a follow up to the Diálogo Nacional, the talks held early this year and during which everyone was invited to participate and give an opinion on national issues. This was seen as an exercise of democracy at its fullest.
The president of the Junta Central Electoral, Dr. Manuel Ramón Morel Cerda attended the event. He had no comments on the opinions expressed by the President.
President Leonel Fernández explained that the Casa Nacional del Diálogo is intended to be home to groups that seek solutions to short, medium and long term structural problems. He said that issues such as political or institutional problems will not be discussed there. For instance, he said that representatives of political parties and civic society could meet to discuss the government-proposed customs tariffs reform, but not to discuss the political crisis of the Junta Central Electoral.
The Casa del Diálogo has been set up at the locale that previously housed the National Music Conservatory, and the Ministry of Tourism at Rosa Duarte corner César Nicolás Penson street. It was fitted at a cost of RD$4 million.

Catholic Churches suspends its role as mediator
El Siglo reported that the Catholic Church will not be mediating among the three leading political parties until these reach agreements among themselves. The parties have adopted unyielding positions regarding the composition of the board of the Junta Central Electoral, the body in charge of organizing elections in the DR. The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez said that the church chose to suspend the talks until the parties advance in their negotiations among themselves. He said he observed little interest among the politicians in resolving the crisis. "We cannot listen indefinitely to intransigent positions," the Cardinal told the press.

Audits of Customs, Tax Bureau and Consulates ordered
The General Controller of the Nation, Haivanjoe Ng Cortiñas has ordered audits of the government Customs, Tax Bureau and Miami and New York consulates. The auditors will be looking into sources of incomes of these departments. The audit seeks to combat corruption and contribute to the transparency of the administration of President Leonel Fernández. Controller Ng Cortiñas said that the results will be known early next year.

Senate to remain at work
The National Senate chose to prolong for another 45 days its working period. The Senate extended its working days in order to study the National Budget Bill that will be submitted by the Executive Branch within days. The government has announced it will submit a budget for RD$44,600 million for 1999.

Teachers concerned about gangs in public schools
The Santiago branch of the Dominican Association of Teachers (ADP) has expressed its concern that New York public school type gangs are taking hold of Santiago public schools. Higinio Santos of ADP said that the influence of youths that have returned from public schools in New York City is showing in the increase in violence in public schools. He urged that measures be taken to put a stop to the gangs taking a hold of the schools.

Teenager pregnancy up
The Dirección General de la Promoción de la Mujer recently revealed that teenager pregnancy in the DR is up. The department that seeks the welfare of women says that teenage pregnancy increased from 17.6% in 1991 to 24.3% in 1996, or 38%. The biggest increase in teenager pregnancies came in the 17 year old age group, which increased from 15.1% to 25.3%, and those 19 years, which was up from 28.5% to 43.1%.
Teenagers living in cities were becoming pregnant more frequently than teenagers residing in rural areas. Urban pregnancies were up 50%, while rural area teenage pregnancies were up 22%.

Exchange rate stable
The exchange rate continues stable in Dominican exchange banks and commercial banks. The Central Bank reports the official rate at RD$15.48 or purchasing dollars. Commercial banks reflect RD$15.30-RD$15.50 for purchasing dollars, while selling dollars for more than RD$16.

Major goods and services fair in Santiago
The Expo Cibao 98 is taking place in Santiago, 11-15 November. Some 225 companies are exhibiting at the 30,000 grounds facilities set up at the La Barranquita sports facility of Santiago. The event is organized by the Santiago Chamber of Commerce and is in its 10th year. The fair is open from 10 am to 10 pm, with exhibitions at four pavilions. Some 350,000 persons are expected to visit the exhibition, regarded the largest in the country.
Several of the country's leading merengue bands, including Hermanos Rosario, Kinito Méndez and Toros Band will be performing.

Mikhail Baryshnikov to dance in Santo Domingo
The Punta Cana Foundation has organized a benefit starring Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov at the National Theater of Santo Domingo. The benefit will be held 5-6 December with performances at 8:30 pm. Funds will be used to help orphan children, hospitals and shelters in La Romana and the East.

Licey defeats Gigantes
Licey Tigers defeated the Gigantes del Nordeste 7-1 in the game held last night in Santo Domingo. The Aguilas Cibaeñas-Escogido Lions game, set for Santiago, was suspended due to rain.

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