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Daily News - 06 April 1999

President favors diversifying free zone production
President Leonel Fernández in his keynote address during the opening ceremony of an international journalism seminar said that the DR has to create a niche market for its exports. He favored pursuing capital intensive production such as electronics, informatics, biotechnology in Dominican industrial free zones. These emerging exports would allow the DR to diversify away from the production of footwear and apparel. The President spoke during the "Journalism and Democracy in Latin America: Global and Regional Integration" seminar organized by the Dominican College of Journalists, the Association of Professional Journalists and the National Press Union.
In another part of his talk, he advocated the importance of Dominican political forces signing a pact for the better future of the nation. He said this was the secret to success in France and Great Britain and Asian countries after the World War II. He said that politicians participating in the talks now taking place at the National Palace should have foremost the vision of what the DR should be in the 21st century.
"I have always believed that the greatest challenge for the economic and social development of the DR is carrying out these changes in a democracy," said President Fernández. He explained that other countries have reached economic and social development but under authoritarian government models. He said that political leaders must have clear that there is no stepping back from the advances in democracy made in the DR.
Attending the seminar are Federico Mayor Zaragoza, general director of UNESCO; Luis Súarez, president of the Federación Latinoamericana de Periodistas; and Noble Peace Prize winners Rigoberta Menchú and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. As a side activity to the seminar, President Fernández decorated Súarez, Menchú and Pérez with the order of merit Duarte, Sánchez and Mella, silver cross.

Government invests in major thoroughfares to tourism areas
Construction is advancing on the Autovía del Este, the 56-kilometer link between Boca Chica and La Romana. The highway stretch is estimated to reduce travel between Santo Domingo and La Romana by 40 minutes, with considerable savings in fuel consumption also. Traffic on this expressway will be permitted at speeds of 100 kilometers, up from the 80 kilometer limit of the present highway.
Those taking the expressway are estimated to be able to reach La Romana in the same time as those traveling to San Pedro along the present highway. Today, La Romana is a half an hour further East after San Pedro de Macorís. The highway will also bring considerable savings in travel time and fuel to those traveling further East to the Punta Cana beach area.
The four-lane Autovía del Este is estimated to cost RD$790 million and to be completed prior to the end of this government, by August 2000.
The present highway will be developed into a tourism boulevard, to be used primarily by those traveling to Boca Chica and Juan Dolio/Guayacanes area hotels. Plans include the construction of trails for horseback riding and bicycling along the present highway.
The government reported that work is also advancing on the Limón-Las Terrenas highway in the province of Samaná. This will provide easy access to the Limón waterfall.
In the North of the island, the Ministry of Public Works said it is working on the expansion of the Santiago-Navarete highway that leads on to Puerto Plata and Monte Cristi. Likewise, the government is building the Santiago bypass highway, at a cost of RD$650 million. This highway will reduce travel time to Puerto Plata by about half an hour as it will enable travelers to avoid the traffic bottlenecks of the city of Santiago. Once completed by mid 2000, one will be able to drive to Puerto Plata in about 2-1/2 hours.

Dilemma of Haitian immigrants
Claubian Jean Jacques was all smiles when President Leonel Fernández awarded him a medal for scholastic achievement in his Villa Altagracia public school. But now, reality strikes. To graduate, this 18-year old son of Haitians needs to have a birth certificate, which he doesn't have and is not progressing on getting from the Dominican civil registry authorities that regard him as a Haitian. Jacques' parents have a midwife that helped his mother give birth and others who can witnesses he was born in the DR. His parents came in 1979 with a temporary contract to cut sugar cane. Like most Haitians, they stayed on choosing other work and becoming one of thousands of illegal immigrants. The Haitian Constitution recognizes him as a Haitian. But the Dominican Constitution, does not, regardless of his having been born here. According to the Dominican Constitution, all who are born in the DR are Dominicans, except those born of foreign diplomats or persons in transit. The Dominican Migration Department considers his parents persons in transit. Claubian Jean Jacques's dilemma is one shared by an estimated 70,000 other children born of illegal immigrant Haitian parents.

Most Dominicans feel they are not worse off
According to the Hoy-Hamilton & Staff poll, carried out 13-19 March during which 1,800 Dominicans were interviewed throughout the national territory, 56% feel they are better off or in the same economic situation as before this government. Survey results are broken down as:
  • 10% much better
  • 21%: a little bit better
  • 25%: more or less the same
  • 24: a little bit worse
  • 19% much worse
This is the third survey of its kind carried out by the newspaper.

Ministry of Interior and Police to control watchmen companies
The Ministry of Interior and Police announced new controls of the 80 companies offering private watchmen services. When the National Police couldn't keep up with the growth of cities, private companies primarily created by former military, recruited hundreds of unemployed persons and turned them into guards. Recently, the men these companies have been hiring are being questioned. The clients rarely interview the guards that are entrusted with the safety of their establishment or home. The watchmen companies are known to pay the lowest wages possible, demand these put in long hours, and not provide these with medical insurance or food services, despite the high fees charged the client. This situation has created disgruntled workers and potential criminals. Several editorials have appeared in local newspapers, requesting an improvement in working conditions that would permit companies to attract better men for the jobs.
After a guard of the Seprisa company for no reason shot an engineer, the Ministry reacted requesting that all watchmen personnel be subject to psychological profiles and police record checks at the Ministry. Minister of Interior and Police Norge Botello said that the companies exercise scant controls over whom they are handing guns to. Botello said it is true that many watchmen are former military or police that were fired for bad behavior.
The unnamed watchman who shot the engineer last 1 April has yet to turn himself in or be arrested by the Police. Journalistic reports say he has called Seprisa and said he would not turn himself in.

Official report: 41 die during Easter vacation
The final report of the Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias Interinstitucionales (COEI), the inter institutional coordinating group that sought to prevent lamentable occurrences during the Easter holiday, says that 168 persons died from Wednesday through Sunday, in the DR. Of these, 41 are deaths that are related to the Easter holiday, a peak for domestic travel. Director of Civil Defense, José de los Santos Sánchez said that deaths were less than in the 1998 Easter holiday, when 52 deaths were reported. Of the total, 30 died in vehicle accidents, and 11 drowned.

International Furniture Fair
The Dominican Fiesta Hotel will host a sampling of furniture manufactured in the DR and imports from abroad. The fair that opens today at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel will feature 100 local companies and participants from France, the US, Canada, Italy, China, Indonesia, Peru, Central America and some Caribbean nations. The fair will be open to the general public from 11 am to 11 pm.

Very good first day for Dominicans in Major League baseball
Dominican players in the Major Leagues got off to a great start on day one of the Major League season. Raul Mondesí, playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit two home runs and two hits, with six runs batted in. Pitcher Pedro Martínez won for the Boston Red Sox inaugural game. His teammate, José Offerman batted four hits in five times at bat during the Boston Red Sox win. Vladimir Guerrero, in his first turn at bat for the Montreal Expos, hit a home run with two men on base, and was a key man in his team's win. Juan Encarnación batted another home runs for the Detroit Tigers.

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