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Daily News - 01 July 1999

Software piracy raids continue
The District Attorney is carrying out a software piracy operation to detect the illegal use of computer software in companies. The District Attorney’s office is combing major commercial avenues, visiting businesses to ascertain the use of unauthorized software copies. The operation started on Wednesday, 30 June with visits to banks along the John F. Kennedy Avenue. It continued with visits to businesses along the 27 de Febrero and Máximo Gómez avenues. Likewise, businesses in the Naco area will also be visited. The Listín Diario said that executives of the cement manufacturing plant, Cementos Cibao in Santiago were arrested for violation of the Intellectual Property Act. The director of the National Copyright Office, Pedro N. Féliz Montes de Oca said that 30-40% of software use is now legal, up from practically 0% two years ago. He said that software piracy is practically impossible to eliminate, and to what they aspire is that tolerable levels be reached. He said within the next two to four years, 50-60% of all businesses should be using authorized software. The operation comes at a time when the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has requested that the Office of the United States Trade Representative suspend GSP and CBI trade benefits.
In 1998, the Dominican Republic exported goods valued at $44.4 million to the U.S. which received preferential duty-free treatment under the GSP Program, which represented approximately 2.81% of its total exports to the U.S., according to U.S. government statistics. Also in 1998, the Dominican Republic exported goods valued at $1.29 billion to the U.S. which received preferential duty-free treatment under the CBI program, which represented about 81.9% of total exports to the U.S.

University professors criticize government lenience
The Unión Dominicana de Profesores de la Educación Superior (UDPES) complained that the Consejo Nacional de Educación Superior (CONES) is tolerating mediocrity in university institutions and producing graduates that cannot make it in the job market. CONES is the government organization in charge of supervising university education in the DR. The university professors union says that three out of every four universities authorized by CONES are producing graduates that have levels of education that are similar to public school high school graduate levels. They mentioned as a sample of the deficiencies the engineering programs at the Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago (UTESA), Universidad Central Dominicana de Estudios Profesionales (CDEP), Organización y Método (O&M), Universidad de la Tercera Edad (UTE) and UNEFA and UNICA superior studies centers. They criticized that students from those universities graduate without having had access to a physics or computer lab.

Central Bank governor awaits decision
Central Bank Governor Hector Valdez Albizu, told Listin Diario, that if the Superintendence of Banks requests the retention of RD$48 million pesos from persons sentenced for money laundering, including those related to the case of Mexican Luis Horacio Cano, the Monetary Junta would endorse the decision.
Recently the US government appointed Manuel Godinez to investigate money laundering in the DR. Godinez told the Listin Diario that because of more effective controls along the Mexican border, money launderers and drug traffickers need to find new routes. In recent years, Mexico received 70% of the drug traffic. This is down to 55%. Godinez says that he will be permanently in the DR as part of preventive measures to ensure that the DR does not become the Mexican replacement route, as traffickers seek cheaper routes for the transport of their merchandise and for money laundering.

More people and companies paying
The director of the Dirección General de Impuestos Internos (DGII), the tax department, Juan Hernández told those attending the American Chamber of Commerce luncheon that more people and companies are paying taxes. He said that evasion of the ITBIS sales tax has declined 12% in the past three years. He said that it is down from 35% in 1996 to 24% in 1998. Likewise, he said that individuals declaring taxes are up 43% in past two years, going from 20,260 in 1997 to 28,901 in 1998. Companies declaring taxes increased 63%, going from 11,403 in 1997 to 18,460 companies in 1998.

Minimum wage is RD$2,895
The minimum wage increase is in effect as of today, 1 July. The wage increase raises the minimum wage 20% at companies with assets of RD$500,000. Minimum wage in the DR is RD$2,895. Note that the Ministry of Labor recognizes different scales of minimum wage for certain work categories, including farm workers, construction workers, domestic workers, free zone workers, etc. The wage increase has traditionally triggered a domino effect on all other salary levels.

Amilcar Romero, PLD vice president?
Hoy newspaper says that sectors within the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana are promoting the candidacy of Amilcar Romero as PLD running mate to presidential candidate Danilo Medina. Romero has been commended for his efficiency at the head of the Ministry of Agriculture. He is known for his discretion, not being polemic, managerial capacity, and loyalty to the Reformista Party (PRSC) from many years back. He has held several government posts in PRSC governments and now the PLD government.

Tony Raful to replace Esquea Guerrero
Antonio Raful (Tony) will replace Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero as president of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD). Esquea Guerrero resigned reportedly because he did not agree with under-the-table dealings of the leaders of factions within the party. The Political Commission of the party accepted his resignation. During the same meeting, the party decided to hold the assembly of delegates to proclaim Hipólito Mejía as the party’s presidential candidate in the May 2000 election on 18 July.

President campaigns for Danilo Medina upon arrival
President Leonel Fernández returned yesterday afternoon following his participation in the Brazil Summit. Vice President Jaime David Fernandez received him. He rode into the city in a caravan standing through the sun roof of a Mitsubishi Montero accompanied by PLD presidential candidate elect Danilo Medina. The ride into the city was typical of a political campaign event. President Fernandez said he would put his heart and soul into his efforts to support the candidacy of Danilo Medina. Danilo Medina is Secretary of the Presidency, and regarded as the strategist who took the litle known Fernández to power in 1996.

CORDE building passed to Customs Department
The Corporación Dominicana de Empresas Estatales (CORDE) building on Winston Churchill was transferred to the Direccion General de Aduanas, the Customs Department for RD$38 million. CORDE will use the money to make severance payments to employees of state enterprises that are being privatized. Eduardo Selman, director of CORDE, said that CORDE, which celebrated last month its 33rd anniversary, should not be in existence by this time next year. He said that of 30 companies that are part of the state corporation, when the PLD government took over only 12 were in operation. Of these only six are still in operation, and of these only three turn a profit. He said CORDE has been the story of misappropriation of funds, obsolescence and abandon. The corporations are being capitalized under Law 141-97.

Naco apartment robbery
Sociologist Frank Marino Hernández was tied down in a fourth floor apartment in the upper middle class Naco neighborhood on Tuesday. Twenty-nine year old Johanny Rosario returned home at 8 pm to be intercepted by a bandit and taken to her fourth floor Naco apartment on Calle Ramón Corripio where she found Hernández and her maid tied up. The bandits stole about RD$30,000 in jewelry, a battery-powered inverter, two passports with US visas and an unreported amount of cash. In the same building, they assaulted Mrs. Alba Luisa Padilla’s apartment on the third floor.

Some truth in Honduran boy’s tale, not all
His story made it around the world, but subsequent police investigations showed that a great part of the saga of 13-year old Honduran boy’s quest to find his father was invented. A Dominican taxi driver assisted the boy once he arrived in New York from Honduras, and later delivered him to the Police, wherefore he became a celebrity. For follow-up coverage, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_381000/381675.stm

Athlete of the Year gets her visa
The US Consulate issued a single-entry visa to Dominican Athlete of the Year, weightlifter Wanda Rijo. The visa had been denied twice on grounds that she could not demonstrate sufficient economic solvency. She did bring a letter from the Olympic Committee explaining she would be representing the country in a world sports event in the US, but this was not enough for the consul reviewing her case. She took her case to the press, and the Consulate rectified the decision and granted her and her coach the needed visa. She visited the Consulate this time with Luisín Mejía, secretary of the Dominican Olympic Committee.

Dominican volleyball player wanted by US league
Dominican national team volleyball player, Cosiris Rodríguez has just received an offer to play professional volleyball with the Chicago team of the US Professional Volleyball League. Hoy newspaper says that executives of the Chicago team saw her play in the US Open held in Los Angeles last month. She is a member of the Dominican national team that aspires to win bronze in the Winnipeg Pan American Games. If she accepts the US offer, she needs to be in the US at the start of October to participate in the draw for the professional league.

President Clinton attends Sammy Sosa game
President Bill Clinton was in Chicago to promote his new Medicare proposal to senior citizens. After saying his speech, he rushed to change and be present at the Chicago Cubs game to watch Sammy Sosa play. He made it to the game by the fifth inning, and Sammy Sosa didn’t let him down. Clinton was left holding a half-eaten hot dog and a Chicago Cubs’ cap in his hand when Sammy hit his 30th home run of the season. Clinton enthusiastically applauded his friend’s home run. The game was 4-3 with the Brewers winning when Clinton arrived. But the visit of Clinton inspired Sosa to bat the home run that gave them the win.
"He brings good luck," Sosa said of Clinton. "A big guy like that comes to town to see the game - it doesn't look too good if we lost," Sosa told the press.
After the game, Clinton visited the clubhouse to congratulate Sosa.
In the middle of the seventh inning, Clinton joined in singing the traditional baseball anthem, ``Take Me Out to the Ball Game.'' Moments later, Sosa hit the home run that delivered the Chicago win, 5-4. Sosa now has reached 30 homers in a season for the sixth time. He has batted home runs in four consecutive games.

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