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Daily News - 05 July 1999

Caricom leaders meet in Trinidad
Caricom leaders begin their 20th Heads of Government Summit at the Hilton Trinidad today at 4.30 p.m. in Port of Spain. Vice President Jaime David Fernández Mirabal is representing the Dominican Republic at the meeting. The DR has observer status. The DR and Caricom have agreed on a free trade agreement, but negotiations have stagnated after Caricom presented a huge list of items that would not be exempt from taxes.
On the Caricom meeting agenda is the implementing of the death penalty within recent years in the region. Nine were hung in Trinidad, and hangings are expected to step up in the region. There is no death penalty in the DR.
There will also be substantive discussions on the process of attaining a single market and economy for the region. Of critical importance, too, will be the status of negotiations, and strategies to be adopted for the ongoing three-dimensional external trade negotiations-the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA); the post-Lome discussions with the European Union (EU) and the talks dealing with the new structures of global trade and investment under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Reports by Heads on their missions to Europe and the United States to lobby for a workable solution to the banana problem will also be presented.
Attending the two-day bilateral visit is President of Spain Jose Maria Aznar. He will sign trade and cultural agreements with Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.
A Dominican business trade mission accompanies the government delegation to Trinidad.

What’s going on at the JCE?
On Saturday, the Centro de Asesoría y Promoción Electoral para América Latina (CAPEL), an Organization of American States affiliate organization, and Participación Ciudadana, a local civic organization presented results of the audit carried out to the Junta Central Electoral (JCE) in a press conference. The JCE is the national institution in charge of organizing presidential, congressional and municipal elections in the DR.
The audit recommended that the JCE assume control of the issuing of the voting and identification cards, today in hands of Datocentro, the informatics company that won the US$18 million contract to issue these. The process is way behind. Datocentro has agreed to hand over the process to the JCE. The audit showed that it is necessary that a technical administrator be appointed to be in charge of the process. The audit presents different scenarios, including the option of voting with two cedulas, in case the deadline to issue the new voting cards cannot be met.
The Presidency had conditioned the granting of an additional requested RD$92 million to the JCE to complete the organization of the 2000 election to the recommendations made by the audit. In its report, CAPEL recommends that the funds not be released until JCE stabilizes the process of compilation of data on Dominican voters.
The report also points to a lack of organization at the JCE, and lack of supervision of the JCE to the process as one of the causes of the delays in the issuing of the new voting cards. It revealed that of 181 stations for data compilation, only 144 are in operation. The audit stated that the JCE knew of the problems, but has done little to correct these.
The JCE did not like the results of the audit. In a paid advertisement, it says that the CD with data presented by the auditors had been tampered with.
When these statements were issued, the director of the audit had returned to Costa Rica.
Isidro Santana of Participación Ciudadana admitted the CD showed signs of being tampered with, and told the press that a new audit would be carried out and the results presented to the JCE and the political parties and not to the press as occurred with the first audit. He had no explanation on how this could have occurred.
The new scandal at the JCE adds nothing positive to the already conflicting process of organizing the 2000 presidential election. Since the moment the judges were handpicked by the PRD-majority Senate, without the consensus of the other leading political parties, the JCE has been enveloped in conflict and crisis.
The CAPEL audit contemplates different voting scenarios, including one where voters would be allowed to vote with the old cedula in case technical difficulties impede the JCE from issuing the new cedula on time.

Red alert on Dominican adolescents
Dominican parents, assisted by psychologists, are seeking to promote a turnabout in the new permissive attitude regarding adolescents that is pervading Dominican society. Listín Diario newspaper gave ample coverage to the activities now being organized by the Federación de Asociaciones de Padres y Madres, that gathers parents associations from 22 middle class and upper middle class high schools in Santo Domingo. The parents are concerned with the lack of enforcement of the drinking age law, with the open sale of alcoholic beverages to minors, with the late hours at which evening entertainment and parties begin, too few adequate entertainment places for teenagers, and the trend for unsupervised parties. Other concerns are the proliferation of discos that do not admit men under 20, but admit the women, leaving these to be entertained by much older men; and the car speed races along the Avenida Abraham Lincoln and the Avenida Luperón.
Psychologist Billie Dominguez explains that parents are confused over limits that should be placed on their teenagers activities. She says that parents that were brought up by authoritarian parents do not want to bring up their children in the same manner, and have gone to the other extreme, being too permissive. She says that a 15-year old boy today thinks he is an adult. She explains that Dominican teenagers are enveloped in a pleasure-seeking culture with few set limits.
Lawyer Ingrid Yeara says that it is time that the authorities begin to enforce the drinking age law. She says if all parents become aware they can encourage their children to attend parties earlier. Today, teenagers go to parties starting at 11 pm because if they went earlier, no one else would be there. She also said that parents have to be less protective of their children. She says they should allow the police to arrest their teenager; let him go to jail. She said if parents took this attitude, the drag racing along the Lincoln and Luperón streets would stop. She says a day or two in jail could save many boys lives.

More than salary increases, restructuring needed for health system
Dr. Luis Cuello Mainardi, who runs the successful Corazones Unidos clinics, alerted the Senate that by increasing medics salaries by 60% they would be contributing little to resolve the problems at public hospitals. He said that prior to the increase in salaries, it is necessary to incorporate work hour controls and administrative practices. The government has sent to Congress a bill whereby new taxes would be created to increase medics salaries in response to demands from the Dominican Medical Association that represents public hospital medics. Dr. Cuello says that Congress should take the opportunity to open talks with medical sectors involved to instate the necessary controls and that physicians be paid depending on the amount of work they put in. He said that the lack of controls results in physicians collecting salaries and not going to work. He explained that the bulk of the work performed at the hospitals is done by residents, and not by the higher paid physicians that have high absency rates since there are no penalties not to go to work or for the lack of better working conditions.

33-year old escapes from kidnapping
The Listin Diario and Hoy newspapers reported on the kidnapping of 33-year old Eliana Hortensia Rodriguez from her home in the Alma Rosa neighborhood. She was taken to Haina, on the western outskirts of the city of Santo Domingo and held. Her sister told the press that she escaped when her custodians fell asleep. She was kidnapped in a Mitsubishi Montero Sport jeep in front of several people. The jeep was later found abandoned in Km. 18 of the Carretera Sánchez. The sisters are daughters of former J2 directors of the Armed Forces. The J2 is the investigation branch of the Ministry of Armed Forces.

10 megaprojects ready for inauguration
The Fernández administration has several mega-projects pending formal placing into operation by the government. Some of these projects are already being used. These include 14 bridges, the regional hospital of the East located in San Pedro de Macorís, modern toll booths at the exits of Santo Domingo, the expansion of the 30 de Mayo highway and the overpasses at the Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy intersection and leading to the Las Americas International Airport. News reports say that the works, valued at RD$1,000 million, will be inaugurated in July and August.

CDE explains hikes in billings
Radhamés Segura, the administrator of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad, the government electricity corporation, explained why consumers are receiving increases in their monthly billing. He said that the CDE billing computer is indexed so that an increase in consumption will move the consumer up to a higher billing level, and thus the total billed will go up significantly. Users are hurting from increases in billings of 10 to 50%. The CDE says that consumption increases during the summer. Industries and businesses say that their consumption remains the same all year round, disputing the new CDE theory. The new increases come at a time when the CDE is about to hand over the billing and production of electricity to private companies. The CDE had stated that billings would be frozen for the next four years.

Raid on unlicensed software users
District Attorney Francisco Domínguez said that it is sending Ferreteria MC Todo Casa, a hardware store, and Pan Pepin, a bread manufacturer, to the judiciary for the use of unlicensed copies of software programs. MC and Pan Pepín were visited during the blitz carried out along the John F. Kennedy Avenue, seeking violators of the copyright law.

Turmoil at the PLD
All is not well at the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, the ruling political party. Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina won the presidential nomination during the 27 June primary. But now followers of his contender, Vice President Jaime David Fernández say he did not win with fair game. El Siglo newspaper says the Vice President’s followers are apathetical about joining the campaign to support the candidacy of Medina in the 2000 presidential election.
Secretary General of the party, José Tomás Pérez has admitted, Medina is a harder sell than the more popular Vice President. But, Medina secured the support of the 12,500 PLD members who have the right to vote for the presidential candidacy.
The Vice President’s followers say he won by using "malas artes" or abusing his power as Secretary of the Presidency. They allege voting members were given gifts such as pick ups, motorcycles, music equipment, televisions, salary increases from RD$5,000 to RD$12,000 and promises of appointments once he won the candidacy, as well as threats of cancellations.
They criticized that Danilo Medina embodies all the PLD criticized in former statesman Joaquín Balaguer.

City girl is Miss DR
Miss Santo Domingo, Merfry Then won the Miss Dominican Republic 1999 title held on Saturday at the Hotel Jaragua. She will represent the DR in the next Miss Universe pageant.
Other winners of the right to represent the DR in other pageants are:
  • Indira Rodríguez, Miss Ambar Dominicana;
  • Patxi Arias, Miss International Dominicana;
  • Oscarina Crisóstomo, Miss Café Dominicana;
  • Melissa Guzmán, Miss Atlántico Dominicana;
  • Michelle Peralta, Reina Mundial Dominicana;
  • Luisa Vargas, Miss America Deominicana;
  • Idelkis Peña, Miss Caribe Dominicana.
The event was organized by Gatsby Dominicana modeling agency.
Miss Dominican Republic studies seventh semester of industrial design at INTEC. She measures 34, 24, 36 and 5’5.

Lilín Díaz passes away
Dominicans mourned over the weekend the passing away of Lilín Díaz, the popular baseball Major League broadcaster. Díaz was also for several years firemen chief, until removed by former Mayor Rafael Suberví Bonilla. When that occurred, then President Balaguer appointed him an Armed Forces general by decree and appointed him presidential liaison for the nation’s firemen corps.

Sammy Sosa hits his 32nd home run
Sammy Sosa hit his 32th home run of the season. He continues to lead the Major League baseball in home runs. Sosa batted his 32nd home run during the fourth consecutive loss of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are affected by weak pitching staff. They have a record of 37 wins and 41 losses so far this season.

Pedro Martinez wins his 15th game
Pedro Martínez is on his way to winning another Cy Young. Over the weekend he pitched for his 15th win of the season, that is only halfway. Martínez is only the second Dominican to reach this mark in the past 14 years. Martinez’s record is now15-2 after the Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-1 on Friday.
Martínez is the most likely starter of the All Stars Game on July 13.

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