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Daily News - 24 August 1999

New York Police and Israeli security to advise DR Police
The National Police will receive training from the New York Police and a leading Israeli security company. A team of Dominican officers will travel to New York City to study the organization of the New York Police, its training and recruitment of personnel systems. Carlos Féliz Gimbernard, president of the Consulting Group, the Miami-based company that is helping the Dominican police force modernize, said David Dafni, the executive director of the International Security & Defense Systems from Israel, is collaborating with the Police on developing its security system. This organization is in charge of the security of Pope John Paul II and of the Olympic Games. A team of Dominican Police will travel to New York to meet with the NY Police. Santo Domingo will be host to an important summit in November. Some 72 heads of government and state from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries will visit then.
Féliz said that on the contrary to popular perception, crime has declined in the DR. He said that the reason why it appears to be on the increase is that it has moved up into the upper echelons. He explained that when a guy in the Guachupita slum gets assaulted, it's not news. When a family living in Naco is assaulted, it makes front page.

Progress in Haiti is only solution to Haitian migration
Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations reiterated again the government position that large numbers of Haitians will continue to make the illegal crossing to the DR unless political stability and economic progress and distribution of wealth is achieved in Haiti. She said it is unfair to say the Dominican government does little to contain the flow of Haitian illegal immigrants. She said the present authorities have done more to provide solutions to the Haitian issue than any other government. President Fernández himself has been very vocal appealing to international communities to come through with their promises for aid. Moreover, she said that a preparatory meeting will be held in September that will be followed in October by the fourth meeting of the Dominican-Haitian Bilateral Commission. Topics on the agenda in addition to migration and nationality are health, environment, commerce and repatriations.

Work begins on new JFK overpasses
Ministry of Public Works has initiated construction of two new overpasses over John F. Kennedy. The overpass over Ortega y Gasset will cost RD$42 million, that over Tiradentes-Lope de Vega will cost RD$92 million. Both will be ready by February 2000, says the Ministry of Public Works. The Ministry inaugurated last month the first overpass over the John F. Kennedy Avenue, connecting to Winston Churchill. The government is also building overpasses at the intersections with Abraham Lincoln and Máximo Gómez.
Av. John F. Kennedy connects traffic from as north as Puerto Plata with the East of the country, passing through Santo Domingo.

First strike against private insurers
The Dominican Medical Association (AMD) and the Association of Private Clinics (ANDECLIP) began today the first of a planned series of 24-hour stoppages of work at private clinics throughout the country. This first strike is taking place in the eastern provinces. News reports say it can affect over 200,000 Dominicans that hold private insurance plans. The clinics and physicians are working as usual, but patients on medical insurance plans will have to pay their full fees. The physicians will attend emergency and very critical patients on insurance plans.
The strike affects the provinces of Barahona, San Juan de la Maguana, Azua, Baní and San Cristóbal.
With the protest, the ANDECLIP and AMD seek to pressure insurance companies into making payments on time for services rendered, and increasing the amount paid the physicians for their services. The clinics and physicians feel the insurance clinics are making a profit of 50%.
The private clinics say that doctors and clinics are free to not accept their contracts. They have also counter threatened to end contracts with the clinics, citing the strike would be a violation of the contract signed.

They're alive
Seven persons, including the crew of the Nina II, made it by rowing to Tortuga Island in Haiti, after their ship caught on fire. The Nina II had been delivering fresh supplies to the Grand Turks Island north of Puerto Plata for 20 years. The cargo barge had left on Wednesday, 9 August and was missing. Those on board saved their lives by boarding a small life boat and rowing to Tortuga Island. From there, a boat of the Haitian Navy transported them to Port du Paix on 21 August from where they were able to call their relatives in the DR. The boat had just been repaired after suffering a previous explosion. It took them four days too row to Tortuga Island. The seven on board were Nelson Herrera González, his son Juan Luis González, his grandson Manuel Alberto Núñez, Angel Luis Vargas, Santiago Francisco Santana, Navy sergeant Adrián Fernández and Alberto Almonte Núñez. Their absence was noticed on Thursday, 10 August, when the owners of the cargo called Puerto Plata to find out the case for the supposed delay. The survivors reportedly were returning to the DR by way of the frontier town of Dajabón today.

Life expectancy now at 71 years
The Centro Latinoamericano y Caribeño de Demografía (CELADE), a dependency of the Comisión Economica para America Latina said that the life expectancy for Dominicans, from 1995-2000, is 71 years. Life expectancy for women is 72.4 years, and 67.8 years for men.
Dominican authorities at the National Planning Office (ONAPLAN), estimate life expectancy is at 68.6 years.
According to CELADE statistics, the DR is 9th in the Latin American standing behind Costa Rica (76.5), Cuba (76), Chile (75.2), Uruguay (74.1), Panama (74), Argentina (73.1), Venezuela (72.8), and Mexico (72.4). Haiti, the Dominican Republic's neighbor, is listed with a life expectancy of 57.2 years. CELADE forecasts that for the period 2000-2005, life expectancy of Dominicans will increase to 72.3 years.

Prices of NY Consulate services to drop
The Consul General of the Dominican Republic in New York, Bienvenido Pérez says that no later than Wednesday, 25 August there will be substantial cuts in prices charged for consulate services. For instance, a two-year passport will be sold for US$81.50 down from US$131.50 at present. In addition to passports, several other documents will be sold for up to 50% less than they are charging at the present time.

PRD presidential candidate critical of CEA privatization
PRD presidential candidate Hipólito Medina said that he will hold President Leonel Fernández, former Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina and the president of the privatization commission, Antonio Isa Conde responsible for the irregularities in the capitalization process of the State Sugar Council (CEA). He said there have been irregularities in the dealings with the sugar mill lands, and in the dealings to liquidate employees, as well as settle with the sugar plantation owners. "Our position is that all capitalization that requires the partial or total concession of the national patrimony should be done in a transparent matter, based on public tenders and with the participation of the civic society through the interested sectors and with the due arbitrage and observation of the state, taking into account that it is the state's duty to preserve the national interest over the interest of individuals," said Mejía, a farming businessman himself and a former Minister of Agriculture. Mejía said last week while on campaign in Barahona that he is in favor of rescuing the CEA, but by injecting it with resources while keeping it in government hands.
Marino Zapete, spokesman for the governmental enterprise privatization commission (CREP), that the PRD legislators voted for the privatization law, and that if Mejía reaches the presidency he must abide by the law. Zapete said that all politicians have been invited to be present at the key activities of the privatization process, and that until now Mejía had not shown an interest.

CEA director to oust squatters
The new director of the CEA, engineer Felix Alcántara said that he was appointed to put a stop to the invasion of CEA lands by opportunists. He said he has received precise instructions from President Leonel Fernandez to get rid of all the obstacles impeding the expedite privatization of the CEA lands and sugar mills. His appointment comes at a time when the press has reported on opportunists invading lands. According to El Siglo, some of the land invaders have had the backing of PLD politicians.

Educational campaign is key to a clean city
El Siglo carries an interview with Jorge Costa, general manager of Dixi-Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas on garbage collecting in Santo Domingo. Costa says the company is picking up 1,900-2,000 tons of garbage a day, using Dixi Sanitary equipment. FCC supposedly purchased the Dixi contract from the government, although a legal tangle evolved when a second company, Urbaser, said it was the one who had the right to the contract.
Meanwhile, Costa says his company will be bringing in new equipment worth US$1 million to improve the service. But he stressed, "Picking up garbage is not just sending a truck to the streets." He explained within a month they will start an education campaign involving students and city residents in general so all can understand the importance of cooperating. The campaign will detail the routes of the garbage trucks and the times at which the trucks will pass. They hope residents in Santo Domingo will only take out their garbage at those established hours.
Costa, nevertheless, is still awaiting for the government to pass the contract on to the municipality. He says it is not an economic issue, rather a political issue.

Get your cars new registration stickers
A process that should have begun in April, was begun on Monday. The process of issuing vehicle's registration stickers was delayed when American Note, the contractor, delayed in delivering the stickers. The DGII, nevertheless, is applying the charge retroactively. The stickers can be purchased at the offices of the DGII, Postal office booths, Baninter, Banco de Reservas, Banco Popular, Asociación La Nacional de Ahorros y Préstamos, Asociación Popular de Ahorros y Préstamos. To get the registration, one needs to bring the original registration document and a photocopy. The average fee is RD$500-RD$1,000 per vehicle.

University of North Carolina to help DR sports
El Siglo reports that the University of North Carolina will be providing technical support to trainers and athletes of the DR as they prepare for the 2003 Pan American Games that will be held in Santo Domingo. Dr. José Joaquín Puello, president of the Dominican Olympic Committee, advanced that an agreement to this end will be signed on 13 October in Santo Domingo. The Olympic Committee will also sign an agreement with the government of Cuba for the hiring of trainers. This agreement will be signed in September.

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