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Daily News - 08 April 1999

Customs increases import duty base exchange rate
Customs increased the "tasa advalorem", the exchange rate on which import duties are calculated. The rate went up from RD$15.88 to RD$16.19 reflecting the devaluation of the Dominican peso versus the US dollar. Exporters complained that while the government is prompt to increase the import exchange rate, this has not occurred with the rate at which the Central Bank exchanges dollars deposited by exporters required to exchange their hard currency at the bank.

More jobs is highest on list of priorities for Dominicans
Findings from the IV National Hamilton & Staff-Hoy newspaper poll show that the most pressing issues for Dominicans are increasing the amount of jobs and improving public services. 40% of the 1,800 Dominicans surveyed throughout the national territory said that finding jobs was the most pressing concern. Other areas of importance for Dominicans are improving farm production 12%, stopping government corruption 9%, improving electricity service, public hospital services and public education all rated 8%, a decline in basic product prices rated 7%. Housing rated 3%, stopping confrontations among politicians 3%, and transport issues 1%. The survey was carried out 13-19 March. Primer Festival de Cine

What Dominicans seek in their next President
During the same survey, pollsters asked Dominicans about the qualities they most looked for in the next Dominican President.
  • Intelligence and capacity rated 44%.
  • Experience 14%
  • Honesty and integrity 11%
  • Youth 9%
  • Managerial skills 6%
  • Democratic spirit 4%
  • Fairness 4%
  • Good health 3%
  • Ability to direct other people 3%.

Major city street expansions in Santo Domingo
The Avenida Ortega y Gasset, which runs parallel to the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center, will be expanded to reach the Malecón as part of an urban renewal plan of the municipality of Santo Domingo. The Director of Urban Planning of the Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional, Pedro Alfonso said that the new North-South connection would link traffic from the Av. John F. Kennedy and the Av. George Washington (Malecón), crossing the Av. 27 de Febrero, Prol. Avenida Mexico, Av. Pedro Henríquez Ureña, Calle César Nicolás Penson, Avenida Bolívar, Avenida José Contreras, Avenida Correa y Cidrón, Avenida Independencia prior to ending in the Caribbean Sea-fronting Malecón.
The city hall also has plans to extend Calle Dr. Defillo, taking it from the Av. J. F. Kennedy down to the Malecón.
A third new North-South connection would be by way of the Pedro Livio Cedeño street that would link by way of the Avenida de los Próceres.
At present, work has already begun on extending the Jonas Salk street so that it flows into the Malecón.
At present, the city's only North-South links are the Avenida Núñez de Cáceres, Av. Winston Churchill, Av. Abraham Lincoln and Av. Máximo Gómez.

Monetary and Financial Code finally passed by the Senate
The Senate approved the Código Monetario y Financiero with modifications. The bill has been under study in the Senate for four years, subject to discussions by interest groups and the ups and downs of politicians that control the Senate. Many of the reforms to the financial system that are part of the new code are already being enforced. The bill now passes to the Chamber of Deputies. The Code is expected to produce new conditions that would open the relatively protected Dominican financial market to international banks, that could result in merges of Dominican banks with international financial groups.

Advances made in talks of politicians
During the seventh meeting of politicians of the three leading political parties, delegates representing the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, Partido Revolucionario Dominicano and Partido and Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, meeting in the presence of President Leonel Fernández, resolved to suggest the following to the Junta Central Electoral, the body in charge of organizing the 2000 presidential elections.
1. Appoint by consensus of the political parties participating in the talks the administrative officers of the JCE (elections director, director of the computer department, director of the civil registry department, director of the cedula department), following what is established in the Electoral Law.
2. Choose the members of the National District Junta Central Electoral and the Municipal Electoral Juntas by consensus of the political parties participating in the talks, following what is established in the Electoral Law.
3. That the Junta Central Electoral contract the services of a private company to expedite the issuing of the "cedula" or ID and voter's card, to be supervised by the JCE and the political parties. Monsignor Agripino Núñez Collado, spokesman of the dialoguing politicians, also said that the politicians had agreed to back up the obtaining of these goals.
It was also announced that the participants in the talks would motivate citizens to promptly secure their cedulas.
The announcement is considered a major advancement in the talks, as the recognition of the present authorities of the JCE has been one of the major bottlenecks in the political scenario. Mainly, the PRSC has contested the new board of the JCE that was unilaterally elected by the PRD on grounds that several of the judges are militant PRD men. The PLD has known to side with the PRSC because the blessing of its leader, Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, may well mean the difference in who will win the 2000 presidential elections.

Puerto Rican Justice Department requests Dominican physician
The Department of Justice of Puerto Rico has presented criminal charges against Dominican physician Edgar Contreras for involuntary homicide against Dhelmalyz Ríos Rivera, who died days after undergoing a plastic surgery. The Puerto Rican judiciary has requested that the physician travel to Puerto Rico to stand trial.
The Dominican judiciary has another case underway for mal practice against Dr. Contreras's brother, Juan Francisco Contreras. The physicians are not members of the Dominican Society of Plastic Surgeons of the Dominican Republic, which stated the physicians do not meet the standards of the medical organization.
The Puerto Rican woman died on 1 September, 15 days after undergoing plastic surgery at the physician's Bellas Artes Clinic in Santo Domingo. After the death of Ríos Rivera, the Dominican Medical Association requested the revision of procedures used. But Dominican judiciary have yet to sentence a Dominican physician for mal practice.
Contreras would be arrested if he enters US territory. He could also be arrested if he visits a third country that has an extradition treaty with the US. If he stands trial in Puerto Rico and is found guilty, Dr. Contreras could face 1-3 years in jail.
Investigations following the woman's death in Puerto Rico showed she died because of clot caused by fat. Dr. Contreras says that is not enough base for a malpractice suit.

More on the plight of a meritorious student
The President of the Junta Central Electoral, Manuel Ramon Morel Cerda addressed the case of Claubian Jan Jacques, responding to correspondence received by several associations that seek that a Dominican birth certificate be issued to the 18-year old. Jacques was recently recognized for his scholastic achievements by the Dominican government, but his graduation is imperiled because he doesn't have a birth certificate. Dr. Morel Cerda replied to the organizations that the student has not presented the necessary documentation. Missing are a passport or birth certificate of his mother. Also a certificate that he has not been declared before, nor has been baptized. In a letter sent to associations that are defending his case, Morel Cerda explained that pre-established procedures have to be followed, an exceptions cannot be made just because the person is of an ethnic minority. Minister of Education Ligia Amada Melo said that the student would not have to quit school because he is a son of Haitians and does not have a birth certificate. She said the authorities would not expel him for not having a birth certificate. Jacques' parents came to the DR to cut sugar cane with a temporary work contract. They have never legalized their stay.

Air conditioners and refrigerators at Najayo jail
Judicial and Police authorities raided the Najayo jail in San Cristóbal yesterday at dawn, and confiscated several appliances that make life more liveable for inmates. The list of confiscated items includes: 16 refrigerators, 20 music sound systems, two large televisions, 10 VHS video players, 23 air-conditioners, eight inverters, two fans, nine batteries, three cellulars, two toasters, 31 knives, one bicycle for doing exercises, and several tables. Police Chief Pedro de Jesus Candelier said that from now on there will be no exclusive areas for prisoners and that conditions would be the same for all. The items were labelled with the proprietor’s names and are expected to be returned to family members.

Major Caribbean disaster operation test run
Tradewinds 99 will take place in Puerto Plata 10-16 April to prepare military and civil services for sea, air or natural disasters in the Caribbean. The Puerto Plata exercise is one in a series being coordinated by the forces that patrol the Caribbean Sea. Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Victor García Alecón said that naval units from the US, Bahamas, Haiti and personnel from Belize and Jamaica would participate. The idea is to prepare civil services and the military for real emergency situations such as rescue operations, fire at sea, defense of coasts, environmental contamination such as petroleum spill, ship salvaging, drug combating among others. Pop corn will be used instead of petroleum to act out a petroleum spill situation.

Ballet at the Columbus Park
The Ballet Clásico Nacional will present the ballet "La Leyenda de Mandé" at the Columbus Park as part of events commemorating the Colonial City Monuments Week. The ballet, choreographed by Patricia Ascuasiati, starring prima ballerina Natacha Velásquez, will be staged at 7 pm on Friday, 7 April. The presentation is part of events program that starts on Friday and ends 18 April that are coordinated by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Tourism to increase cultural awareness. The event is also organized by the Comisión Permanente para la Animación Cultural de la Ciudad Colonial, an organization that seeks to enliven the Colonial City; the Oficina de Patrimonio Cultural, the office in charge of monuments and historic sites in the DR; and the Dominican Committee of ICOMOS, the international organization that promotes monuments and cultural sites throughout the world.

Carmen to open 23 June in Santo Domingo
To celebrate its 85th anniversary, Texaco Caribbean will sponsor the presentation of the George Bizet opera "Carmen" at the National Theater. The opera will be performed 23, 25 and 27 June. The production is directed by Maestro Carlos Piantini.

Primer Festival de Cine
Cinema fans are in for a treat mid year. From 9-18 July, the First Cinema Festival will take place in Santo Domingo. The Centro Cultural Hispanico, the cultural branch of the Spanish Embassy, said that several of the leading Spanish films will be presented, and several vanguard directors have been invited for the film festival. An estimated 60 international films will be shown. The organizer, Dominican movie critic Arturo Rodríguez announced that directors of the caliber of Angelo Poulos, Kusturiner, Charbrol, Wneders, Rohmer, and Julis Mendeus have said they will attend. Films from Europe, US , Africa and Asia will be shown.

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