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Daily News - 21 July 1999

Congress passes export promotion bill
The Chamber of Deputies passed the export bill. The bill provides for the reimbursement of customs duties, and compensation on other taxes, as well as for a temporary materials and input import regime for goods that will be re-exported in less than 18 months. The new law is expected to boost exports.

Medics wage increase bill passed in Chamber of Deputies
The Chamber of Deputies, with the abstention of the PRSC deputies, passed the bill that increases salaries of public hospital doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists and lab technicians employed by public hospitals and the social security system. Moneys to pay for wage increase sought by the medics will come from a new RD$1,000 tax on circulation of vehicles less than five years, a RD$2,000 new tax on gun permits, and new taxes that are being levied on sports betting. The bill passes on to the Senate for final approval.

Medina has a chance, if government popularity is high
Political analyst Emilio Herasme Peña of El Siglo says that the PRD should not be overconfident that their candidate will win by a landslide. Herasme recalls that eight months prior to the 1996 election, today President Leonel Fernández was a distant third behind the PRD candidate José Francisco Peña Gómez and the PRSC candidate Jacinto Peynado.
While Herasme says that a victory of Medina cannot be discarded, he conditions Medina’s chances at winning the elections in May 2000 to how the Dominican people perceive the performance of the present PLD government. He says that if people have a good opinion of the government, they may vote for it to continue, thus casting their vote for the PLD candidate, Danilo Medina, who is secretary of the presidency in the Fernández administration.
So far, most Dominicans are satisfied with the present government. Medina, a less charismatic candidate than Mejía, will need the Dominicans to feel very good about the government in order to shoot past Hipólito Mejía of the PRD. Herasme comments that the PLD seems to be very aware of this.
Herasme says that with the millionaire savings the government will obtain not having to subsidize the electricity corporation (CDE), the state conglomerate of enterprises (CORDE) and the state sugar mills and plantations (CEA), the government will be able to continue its major construction program as well as make important payments to suppliers and construction work contractors. The moneys will also allow the government to reach out to city barrios and abandoned rural communities. The PLD is gambling on moving public sectors to think that they deserve four more years to modernize the country and complete initiated works and programs.

Arrested Police major was interrogated in case of missing Narcisazo
El Siglo newspaper reports that Major Cesar Alberto Ovando Mitchell, one of three Police officers accused by the Police of shooting three suspects arrested in Moca earlier this month, had been involved in the Narcisazo case and had been questioned by Judge Eduardo Sanchez Ortiz. At the time of the disappearance of Narcisazo, Ovando was the day officer at the Burglary Department of the National Police.
Major Ovando is accused of the assassination of Antonio Ramón Hernández, Julio Holguín and another unidentified man, who had been arrested after attempting an assault in Moca. The neighbors frustrated the assault. Air Force Oscar Andres Polanco Rosario and Police officer Alejandro Antonio Rodriguez were mortally injured in the exchange of gunshots that did occur when the assailants resisted arrest.
The other two officers involved in the case are Second Lieutenant Francisco Israel Tejada and Sargeant Virgilio Suero Rodríguez.
The Police initially reported the arrested assailants had died in a shootout with the Police when they resisted arrest. This was later disproved by a video showing they were transported alive to the Police station.
Chief of the Police Major General Pedro de Jesus Candelier Tejada, following an investigation, ordered the cancellation of the police officers and their arrest at the Comando Regional Norte.
Commenting on the case after receiving a report from the Police Chief, President Fernández said that the three men "were executed in a cruel manner after having been taken to prison, in an unexplainable and unacceptable manner, a flagrant violation of their human rights."

Population needs to join Police force to reduce crimes
President Leonel Fernández said that in order to combat the increase in crime in the DR, citizens will have to become more involved and better organized. He said recently that the mechanisms for the active participation of citizens in their own security within their respective jurisdictions and territories need to be created. Citizens need to have closer links with the Police.
He explained that as part of a national plan to combat crime, the government is working on revisions of the penal code and criminal legal processing in order to increase penalties against criminals. He said that more jails in the interior cities will be built, and the plan contemplates training of the Police force, and equipping it with modern equipment, vehicles and communication links.
While the increase in crime has many times been attributed to poverty, President Fernández says that the country has not escaped what he called the "globalization of crime." He said that the higher crime indexes are in the more developed and less poor nations.
He explained that drug trafficking interests, the result of the weakening of the Colombia-Mexico-US link are now focusing on the DR as a trans-shipment point in the Colombia-Haiti-DR connection to the USA (Puerto Rico) or Europe. He says that it is essential to reinforce national security organizations at the frontier with Haiti and repressive actions to deter the takeover of Dominican territory.
One of the major problems is that the traffickers are paying locals with drugs, and not money, and these have to sell the drugs locally. The President explains the addict that is created needs to carry out assaults to secure money for the vice.
In his opinion, a negative aspect of modernizing the country is that it creates expectations in low-income people for items they cannot afford, generating undesirable violent conducts.
Increase in crime and delinquency is one of the major concerns of the present administration. Yesterday, security organizations of the country met for three hours to finalize the contingency plan to confront organized crime and delinquency.
While still one of the Caribbean nations with the lowest crime rates, if not the lowest, the DR is seeing an unusual increase in violent crimes, unheard of less than two or three years ago.

More on Merengue Festival
The Second Gala of Unpublished Merengues 1999 will take place on Thursday, 29 July at the Teatro La Fiesta of the Hotel Jaragua. Fifteen compositions were selected from 400 submissions and are being arranged by leading Dominican musicians for the upcoming competition. The event is part of the Merengue Festival that opens 23 July and will end 1 August in Santo Domingo, and the southeastern beach communities of Boca Chica and Juan Dolio.
In Santo Domingo, live band presentations and merengue street dancing will take place at the Malecón and the Avenida del Puerto. Bands that will be performing are:
Toño Rosario, Fernando Villalona, Los Hermanos Rosario, Sergio Vargas, Kinito Mendez, Ramon Orlando, Peña Suazo, Eddy Herrera, Parada Joven and Juan Manuel (bachata). Also, Banda del Truco, Los Toros Band, Rockabanda, Grupo Mio, Rikarena, Raffy Matias, K-Libre, Kaki Vargas, Coco Band, Zafra Negra and Banda X.
The Gran Encuentro de Música Típica is set for Friday, 30 July at 8:30 at Plaza Nico Lora (in front of Parque Eugenio María de Hostos) on the Malecón. Francisco Ulloa, Jose y su Artilleria Pesada and La India Canela will perform their own particular brand of grassroots music.
Merengue Festival will close with a bang on Sunday, 1 August. In Boca Chica Beach, Fernando Villalona and Francisco Ulloa entertaining all at the main parking lot as of 3 pm. That same evening, in Santo Domingo, the festival closes with an all night party at the Avenida del Puerto starring Toño Rosario, La Banda X and Peña Suazo y su Banda Gorda.

Fox TV to transmit DR baseball games in US
Fox TV will air the winter baseball games of the DR for viewers in the USA. The president of the Dominican Winter Baseball League, Leonardo Matos Berrido in a press conference, made the announcement yesterday. Two games a week will be selected for airing. Player interviews and tourism promotion will be part of the telecasts. The games will be transmitted in English, but can be listened to in Spanish through the SAP audio facility. It is estimated that some 80 million baseball fans will be able to follow the Dominican baseball action that starts in October.

Cuba could join Caribbean League
Juan Francisco Puello Herrera, Baseball Commissioner for the Caribbean, said yesterday in an interview with Hoy newspaper that Cuba could join the Caribbean Baseball League. Puello Herrera will travel to Cuba in August to discuss the matter. So far, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the DR are part of the league. Puello has hopes that Cuba may join the league in the next few years.

Santo Domingo marathon scheduled for 7 August
The Club Maratonistas de Santo Domingo is organizing its fourth half-marathon. The popular 21-kilometer event will take place 7 August starting at 4:40 pm. The marathon will be run along Avenida de la Salud (parallel to Avenida Anacaona). A total of RD$200,000 will be given out in prizes to participants.

DR loses to Canada in basketball
The DR lost to Canada, 81-64 in the Pre-Olympic Trials that are being played in San Juan, Puerto Rico. With this loss, the DR wiped out its chance at being one of two teams to represent the Americas in the Sydney, Australia Olympics. After the game, Luis Felipe Lopez, of the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA, admitted that things hadn’t gone as the team expected. "We came to play hard, but things didn’t work out as we expected," he said. Team player Carlos Payano said that the team never was able to develop the "chemistry" needed to win games. "We have the talent, but it had to pass over to the team. We never achieved the chemistry," he said. The DR team was put together at last minute and barely had a week to practice as a team.

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