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Daily News - 10 June 1999

Senate approves two new JCE judges
The Senate appointed Julio Cesar Castaños Guzmán and Roberto Rodríguez Estrella as the two new judges of the Central Electoral Board (JCE). The Senate postponed its decisions on the proposed substitutes for the two new judges. Senators Angel Pérez (PRD-Pedernales), Darío Gómez Martínez (PRD-Santiago Rodríguez), José González Espinosa (ASD-Barahona) and Ginette Bournigal (ASD-Puerto Plata) opposed their nomination on grounds that Castaños and Rodríguez are militant party members of the PRSC and PLD. But the Senate favored the motion, 18-4.
The new judges are being appointed as part of a political agreement between the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC).
Thirty-five year old Roberto Leonel Rodríguez Estrella graduated from the UNPHU law school in 1985. He has worked with the Kaplan, Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti law firm, is a member of the board of directors of the Dominican Electricity Corporation (CDE), and deputy director for legal affairs of the Income Tax Bureau (DGII).
Forty-four year old Julio Cesar Castaños, has several postgraduate titles for studies in criminal law. He is a former president of Publicaciones Ahora and secretary of Telesistema Dominicano, both of the Corripio business group. He is deputy legal advisor to the Executive Branch. He is a professor of the National School of the Magistracy, that prepares lawyers to become judges, and professor of the program to train district attorneys sponsored by the PUCAMAIMA and UNPHU universities.

RD$92 million for JCE once cleared by OAS group
The three leading political parties - the PRD, PLD and PRSC- agreed to release the RD$92 million in additional funds the Central Electoral Board (JCE) has requested as soon as the government receives a positive report from CAPEL. CAPEL is the Organization of American States body that consults with Latin American electoral boards. The JCE is requesting the injection of funds to catch up with its schedule for the holding of the presidential election on 16 May 2000.

President Fernández to travel to Brazil and Colombia
President Leonel Fernandez is slated to travel to Brazil and Colombia at the end of the month. He will participate in a summit of Latin America, Caribbean and the European Union heads of government and state that will take place in Rio de Janeiro on 26 June. The meeting will focus on the relations of Latin America and Europe in the global world of free trade come the new millennium.
The Caribbean statesmen will meet separately to focus on their post-Lomé IV Convention reality. This non-reciprocal free trade agreement that benefits the Caribbean will end in February 2000.
President Fernández will return to the DR via Colombia. He will be in Colombia for a three-day stay, following an invitation made by President Andrés Pastrana, who was in Santo Domingo in April of this year to attend the Association of Caribbean States heads of government and state summit.
This would be President Fernández's 24th trip abroad. Since he became President in August 1996, President Fernández has traveled to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela, Chile, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Antigua, Haiti, Mexico, Spain, France and Italy. In the US he has visited New York, Miami, Atlanta, and Washington. He has pending a tour to Japan and Taiwan later this year.
The pro-active international relations policy of the present administration is considered one of the Fernández government's major successes.

Major projects to assist Hurricane victims
The government is only awaiting a first funds transfer of US$22 million from the World Bank to get started on a major Hurricane Georges relief operation. The Senate has approved emergency relief assistance loans granted to the DR by the World Bank (US$111 million) and the Interamerican Development Bank (US$105 million). The government counterpart to the loans is US$52 million. Government organizations that will be coordinating efforts to repair, rebuild and build new housing, rural roads, bridges, highways, aqueducts, irrigation systems, electrification projects, and health and education projects, met yesterday. Participating are the Central Bank, Ministry of Public Works, National Water Institute (INDRHI), Santo Domingo Water Corporation (CAASD), National Potable Water and Sewage Institute (INAPA), Ministry of Agriculture, National Planning Office and Pro Community Fund that met to prepare for the execution of planned projects.

Sex education programs in public schools
The Ministry of Education announced that it will strengthen sex education programs in public schools next year. The primary objective is to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. The Ministry will be training teachers in subject matter that will be given as part of the Natural Science and the Morals and Civics classes.

No presidential aspirant has 50%+1 of preferences
A Hamilton-Hoy newspaper survey confirmed that none of the presidential hopefuls is likely to have the 50%+1 vote count necessary to win the election. One thousand Dominicans throughout the Dominican Republic were asked that if the election was held today, who they would vote for. Hipólito Mejía (PRD) would receive 46% of the vote of women, and 49% of the vote of men. If his contender for the PLD were Danilo Medina, the later would receive 22% of the vote of women, and 20% of the vote of men. If the PLD candidate were Jaime David Fernández Mirabal, Mejía would receive 44%, and Fernández 25%.
When asked for what party would they vote, they said: PRD, 44%; PLD 26%; PRSC 16%; Undecided 13%; Other parties, 1%.
In the largest voting district, the National District (Santo Domingo), the PRD received 43% of the vote, followed by 33% for the PLD and 13% for the PRSC. 11% are undecided.
In the Dominican presidential elections, a candidate needs to obtain 50%+1 vote to win in the first round that will take place 16 May 1999. If this does not occur, a second round is scheduled to take place 45 days later, on 1 July. In the 1996 elections, when this new voting system was implemented, the PRD won the first round, but failed to pool the necessary 50%+1 of the vote to win the presidency.
In the second round, then President Balaguer, of the PRSC, supported the candidacy of the PLD over that of Jacinto Peynado who was running for his party. Thus President Leonel Fernández was elected. Political analysts say it is more likely that PRSC voters will vote for the PLD candidate than for the PRD candidate.

Life expectancy increases
Dominicans are expected to live 70-74 years, according to the Health and Population Atlas released by the United Nations. Life expectancy in the DR is higher than that of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Only Chile, Cuba and Costa Rica have higher life expectancy levels for their residents.

Major tree planting operation
Some 14 million trees planted in the DR as part of the Plan Quisqueya Verde from October 1998 to May 1999. The Department of Forestry has produced more than six million seedlings this year. The plants are helping replace the thousands of trees that fell during Hurricane George as well as are part of an environmental protection nationwide plan.

Illegal electricity connections is major cause of serious burns
Men burned while trying to steal power from the state electricity power lines is the leading cause of burn internments at the Pearl F. Ort Burn Center of the Luis Eduardo Aybar Public Hospital. Burn Center director, Dr. Carlos de los Santos said that 94% of the serious cases are men in their mid 30s that suffered electrical shock and burns when trying to make an illegal electric connection.
He urged the National Police, the Firemen Department, Civil Defense and the Red Cross to start a prevention campaign.

Travelers will not need services of luggage porters
El Siglo newspaper published a report with good news for travelers. The Las Americas International Airport has contracted the services of Smart Kart. The new service will enable tourists to carry their own luggage, despite its weight. Governor of the Airport, Arístides Fernández Zucco said that travelers will still be able to request the services of a porter to remove luggage from the Customs Area to the parking area. The Governor of the airport said that soon they will be posting signs with the established tip rates for the porters. He also announced new uniforms for the remaining porters.

Work on Pan Am villa should start now
Pan Am Games president, Dr. José Joaquín Puello, urged the government to begin work on the Panamerican Sports Games village. He said the government needs to call a tender and produce the architectural plans for the 640-apartment complex. He estimates the later will cost RD$740 million. The government recently announced the village would go up on the grounds of Industrias Lavador, diagonally across from the Olympic Center. Puello says the villa will take about 3-1/2 years for its completion, so work should begin immediately. President Leonel Fernández had said he would set the grounds, but the construction was the responsibility of the next government. Yesterday, El Siglo newspaper published the contents of a 21 May decree whereby the government recommends the immediate construction of the complex. The Pan Am Games are scheduled to be held in Santo Domingo in summer 2003.

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