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Daily News - 28 May 1999

President Fernández to travel to El Salvador
President Leonel Fernández will travel on Monday, 31 May to El Salvador to attend the inaugural of President-elect Francisco Flores. He is scheduled to leave Santo Domingo Monday afternoon and return Tuesday afternoon. He will travel on a private jet. The out-going President of El Salvador, Armando Calderón Sol, has made three state visits to the DR in the past two years. President Fernández will travel with Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre, and Administrative Secretary of the Presidency, Simón Lizardo.

Meeting to fight crime
President Leonel Fernandez met with the nation's law and order authorities yesterday to set the nation's strategy to combat the increase of crime that has surged in the DR in recent weeks. Those attending were: Jorge Subero Isa, president of the Supreme Court of Justice; Manuel de Jesús Florentino, Minister of the Armed Forces; Mariano Germán Mejía, Attorney General; Norge Botello, Minister of Interior and Police; Pedro de Jesús Candelier; Chief of the Police; Francisco Domínguez Brito, District Attorney; Marino Vinicio Castillo, Presidential Drug Commissioner; Aura Celeste Fernández, president of the Commission for the Reform of Justice; Celso Marranzini, president of the National Council of Businesses (CONEP), Reverend Braulio Portes and Radhamés Gómez Pepín and Nélsida Marmolejos.

RD$160 or US$10?
The Direccion General de Impuestos Internos authorized airlines to charge Dominicans RD$160 instead of the U$10, following an opinion from the Supreme Court of Justice that it is illegal to oblige Dominicans to pay the departure tax in foreign currency. According to newspaper reports, departing Dominicans are being allowed to pay in pesos since yesterday, 27 June.
If you thought that that would end the controversy over the US$10 charge, you are wrong. The Monetary Junta, also determined yesterday, that the charge is valid, alleging the Monetary Law authorizes the government to charge in foreign currency for minor transactions that affect tourists or travelers. In other words, the charge remains US$10 for all departing passengers.

Unisys says it will resolve tech problems
Oscar Sanz, spokesman for Unisys International, the company that is supplying the computerized technology the Junta Central Electoral is using to issue the "cedulas" or voting and identification cards, says the process will conclude in six months. He said the company will do all necessary to come through with its side of the contract. The JCE, the government department in charge of organizing national elections, contracted Datocentro, of which Unisys is a main supplier. Technical problems have caused major delays in the schedule of issuing the voting cards. Unisys says it will be sending down 19 of its best technicians to fast track the process. The technicians are coming from India, Brazil and the US. The plan is to increase the number of voting cards issued per day to 15,000+.
Sanz nevertheless cited administrative problems at the JCE, over which they have no control.
The JCE in turn has requested an additional RD$92 million from the central government to get the process under control. The government has not yet responded to the request.

Agreement signed with the Weather Channel
The Ministry of Agriculture signed an agreement with The Weather Channel Latin America to improve the compilation and spreading of weather information in the DR. Minister of Agriculture Amilcar Romero and Eduardo Ruiz, president of the Weather Channel Latin America signed the agreement. The Weather Channel broadcasts every two hours data obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Weather Bureau.

Temporary closing at Rosario mine
The Board of Directors of Rosario Dominicana passed the temporary closure of the Rosario mine, upon the failure of the company to secure the international partner for the exploitation of the proven sulfide ore reserves, estimated at more than 100 million tons. The Monetary Junta recommended the closure, after El Siglo newspaper carried reports pointing to environmental contamination of rivers in the Sánchez Ramírez province. The mine's toxic waste treatment plant had been out of service for many years. Reportedly, an environmental clean up process will take place now.
Press reports in the past have said that it is more expensive for the Dominican government to not finalize a new contract for the processing of the sulfide reserves of the mine than to go ahead. Conflicting interests boycotted the Salomon Brothers supervised bid, called in 1996, with major foreign companies abandoning the bid after investing millions of dollars in preparation works.
The Presidency has not spoken up on the reason why the tender was aborted.

Fume converters need to be installed
Conrado Depratt, research coordinator of the Chemistry Institute of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the state university, urged the government to legislate to obligate vehicles circulating in the DR to install catalytic converters. He estimated that only vehicles imported from the US have these converters. He said the circulation of vehicles without them increases the percentage of cancer among the Dominican population.

Students to evaluate their teachers
For the first time in public education history, public school students from first grade to high school and those in adult education programs will get a chance to grade their teachers. This Monday, students will evaluate 46,000 public school teachers. Their evaluation mark will account for 70% of the grade of the teachers. The monetary incentive the Ministry of Education grants to the public school teachers depends on the evaluation results.

Work advances on new Migration and Passport buildings
The government is building modern buildings and installations for the departments of Migration and Passports. Once completed, these will be fully computerized. They are going up on grounds of the Teatro Agua Luz, in the Centro de los Heroes government complex. Ministry of Public Works said they could be finished by year's end. Migration and Passport departments are located on the Huacal and Huacalito government office buildings in Gazcue.

Siamese twins to be operated in US
Jazmin and Nasmil, Siamese twins born prematurely to 19 year old Maria Frias and Franklin Campusano, will be flown to the US to be operated. They were born united at their abdomens and toraxes. They also share a liver. They were born Wednesday, 26 June in a San Cristóbal public hospital that sent them to the Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital in Santo Domingo. The children's hospital referred them to the Corazones Unidos Clinic which is making arrangements for their operation in the US. Dr. Luis Cuello Mainardi, the clinic's director, previously arranged for the successful operation of twins born in Santiago at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital of New York City. The clinic also arranged for the Cotuí twins to be separated, but only one survived.

25th National Gastronomy Festival coming
The 25th National Gastronomy Festival is set for Tuesday, 22 June and 23 June. The most important gastronomic event held in the DR is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, the National Association of Hotels & Restaurants, the Hotels Association of Santo Domingo, the Association of Chefs of the DR and the Caribbean Traveling Network, a travel television channel. It will be held at the Hotel V Centenario Intercontinental.
Tuesday, 22 June: soups, appetizers, salted dishes, meats, Dominican cuisine, rices, and pastries will be judged.
On Wednesday, 23 June: salads, pastas, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetable, sweet dishes and Dominican sweets.
An admission fee of RD$500 per person is charged, as this year the festival is a benefit for the Hogar de Niños Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, and Father Luis Rosario's Casa de la Acogida.

Three discos for RD$200
If you are into dancing, the special three-disco night program is what you are looking for. Scheduled for Wednesday, 2 June, by purchasing a RD$200 bracelet you are entitled to dance until dawn at Neon, Schizo and Jubilee, three of the better Santo Domingo city discos. The bracelets are for sale at Ericsson Center, Nautica, Guess or Compact Music stores. Neon will feature music of the 80s, Schizo is announcing an emphasis on rave music, and Jubilee will feature contemporary music. Tickets to the Presidente Latin Music Festival will be raffled at the discos.

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