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Daily News - 19 July 1999

President roundly condemns executions
In a written statement released Saturday through his press office, President Leonel Fernández condemned the apparent execution by police of three supposed "delinquents" in Cayetano Germosén, Moca and ordered National Police (PN) chief, Major General Pedro de Jesús Candelier Tejada, to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident. He also ordered the chief to take steps to ensure that all officers respect the human rights of everyone, including supposed "delinquents" being apprehended or in their custody. Abuses of human rights by the police, he declared, "will not be tolerated in the Dominican Republic." The DR is a country ruled by laws, and constitutional protections extend even to private persons "surprised in the commission of a flagrant crime." The courts, not the police or the Armed Forces, should decide who is guilty and what their punishment should be, he declared. He ordered the PN chief to instruct all police officers in how to respect human rights during the course of doing their duty.
Last Thursday the local police announced that the three men had been killed during a shoot-out with police. Witnesses disputed the account, saying the men had been taken alive from the scene by police. Soon a local television station turned up an amateur videotape made by a student which clearly showed the men in question, alive and handcuffed, being herded into the back of a police truck.

DR asks for more time to implement TRIPs rules
The Dominican Republic has joined with Cuba, Egypt and Honduras in formally requesting that the World Trade Organization (WTO) grant them a delay of five years to implement their Uruguay Round trade commitments regarding Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs). Under the 1996 TRIPs agreement, all nations belonging to the WTO were to upgrade by January 1, 2000 their intellectual property laws and regulations to match the level of protection provided under generally accepted international treaties on patents, trademarks, copyrights, geographic indications, software, microchips and trade secrets. The four countries are insisting that the changes necessitated by the trade commitments are simply beyond their institutional capacity to meet by next January, and that countries that are less advanced technologically such as they should be allowed more time to make the transition. The petition will be examined at the next meeting of the WTO’s TRIPs Council, and probably will end up being discussed at the WTO Ministerial scheduled for Seattle. Developed nations, led by the United States and European Union (EU), are likely to strongly oppose the request, since it would lead to a flood of similar delays by other developing nations.
In a related matter, the DR joined several other nations – Cuba, Egypt, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Pakistan – in requesting that the next round of WTO multilateral trade negotiations extend the protection for geographical indications beyond wines and liquors to a series of other agricultural and food products.

MIGA says 30+ multinationals interested in investing in DR
The arm of the World Bank charged with promoting investment, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), said in a recent bulletin that it has been approached by more than 30 multinationals for information about the investment climate in the Dominican Republic with a view to investing here. MIGA says that the foreign investors have been most interested in the energy, tourism and free zone sectors in the DR, followed by finance, telecommunications and manufacturing. Most have been attracted, says MIGA, by the DR’s economic growth and stable monetary and investment climate.

10 groups pre-qualify to bid for CEA’s sugar mills
Gabriel del Río Doñé, a member of the body charged with overseeing privatization, the Commission for the Reform of Public Enterprise (CREP), told reporters that 10 groups have "pre-qualified" to bid for the sugar mills presently owned by the State Sugar Council (CEA). To "pre-qualify" – be approved to participate in the bidding – the groups had to submit specified documentation by June 23rd. Twelve firms filed, but only 10 filed all the required documentation. CREP has yet to announce the names of the firms approved to bid. The actual bidding is slated for mid-August, although a specific has not yet been announced.

New river protection decree being ignored
The news daily Listin Diario reports that a vigil conducted by its reporters at rivers covered by the new President Decree 296-99 show that the decree is being ignored and the authorities charged with enforcing it are not doing so. Observation of the Haina, Isabela, Higüero and Ozama rivers found that trucks continued to extract sand, gravel and stones from the river bed in flagrant violation of the decree issued last week. Further, no representatives of the National Police (PN) or the Aqueduct and Sewer Corporation of Santo Domingo (CAASD), the two institutions charged by the decree with its enforcement, were observed checking on the rivers and impeding the work of the extractors. One of the truck drivers questioned by Listin indicated that he did not fear enforcement of the decree, because the owner of his truck was a colonel who had assured him that he would not be touched by the law.
Meanwhile, a number of environmental groups have strongly criticized the new decree for limiting its prohibition on materials extraction from riverbeds to just a few rivers, most of which are not the ones most affected by that practice. Most groups have called for the application of the prohibition to be national, or at least to cover the Nizao, Nigua, Yubazo, Yuna, Chavón and Yásica rivers, where extraction is said to be causing serious ecological damage to the rivers.

Fire destroys part of Manatí Park Bávaro
Last Friday a fire reduced to ashes part of the main plaza of the Manatí Park amusement center near the Bávaro tourism zone. The fire destroyed two clothing shops, a photography studio, a bar, a kitchen, an ice cream parlor and a series of freezers. Thanks to efforts by Park workers, the fire was extinguished before damaging the area where the water shows – featuring dolphins and seals, among other animals – are performed daily. Nonetheless, damages are estimated to be more than a million pesos. The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined, although police have detained two employees for questioning.

It’s official: PRD to run Hipólito & Milagros
The 18th Convention of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) on Saturday officially proclaimed ex-Agriculture Minister Hipólito Mejía and current Senator Milagros Ortiz Bosch as the party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively, for the May 2000 national elections. Mejía had won the most votes in a PRD primary held last month, Ortiz Bosch third place (former Santo Domingo Mayor Rafael "Fello" Suberví had come in second). Ortiz Bosch had been expected to be picked as Mejía’s running mate ever since she agreed in May (the first to do so) to a pact with Mejía that whoever won the primary would be fully supported by the other. Ortiz Bosch will be the first female vice presidential candidate nominated by a major political party.

5 Dominicans picked for baseball’s dream team of next decade
The North American periodical "The Sporting News" has picked five Dominicans to be on its "dream team" of baseball Major League stars for the next decade. The five picked are Alex Rodríguez, Manny Ramírez, Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colón and Alfonso Soriano.

DR faces US tonight in Pre-Olympics Basketball Tournament
Despite two losses over the weekend, the DR’s male basketball team are not yet eliminated from the Pre-Olympics Basketball Tournament for the Americas being played in San Juan, Puerto Rico. On Saturday the Venezuelan team beat the DR 70-66 in a close match; on Sunday the unbeaten Puerto Rican team whipped the DR 103-95 in a game where the Dominicans always trailed and never came closer to their opponents than eight points behind. The DR, which has won only one match so far in the Tournament, needed for Brazil to beat Panama last night in order not to be eliminated from the next round of play. That occurred, not only giving the DR a chance to continue tournament play, but also ensuring that it qualifies for the 2001 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Tonight the DR, the lowest qualifying team of Tournament Group B, must face off against the United States’ "Dream Team," the unbeaten champion of Tournament Group A.

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