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Daily News - 26 August 1999

Free books for public school children
Children studying at public schools will receive all their textbooks free of charge. The Ministry of Education begins this year a RD$45 million program that will benefit public school children all around the country. Earlier, the Ministry spent RD$100 million on the textbook program. This is the first time, first grade to senior grade public school children will receive free textbooks.
School opens in the DR on 1 September, although some public and private schools may start at different dates.
Two million students are enrolled in the public schools. Approximately two million more are enrolled in private schools.
The Ministry of Education says that the textbooks will be delivered to public schools during the first 15 days of September.
Some six million textbooks will be distributed.

President Fernández to travel to Bogotá and Panama
President Leonel Fernandez will travel Sunday, 29 August to Bogotá, Colombia. This will be the second time a Dominican statesman visits Colombia. Hoy newspaper reports that he will sign bilateral agreements in the areas of farming, technical-professional training, cultural affairs, migration, electoral advice, agroindustrial management, education and health. He will be in Bogotá through 31 August when he will travel to Panama to attend the inaugural of President-elect Mireya Moscoso.
President Fernández is traveling to Colombia after receiving an official invitation from President Andrés Pastrana when the later visited Santo Domingo early this year.
President Fernández is expected back on Thursday, 2 September.

Minister of Finance is interim director of Customs
Minister of Finances Daniel Toribio was temporarily appointed director of Customs. The incumbent, Miguel Cocco is hospitalized in Miami recovering from a kidney problem.

Poultry producers to import frozen chicken
The government authorized the import of 1,500,000 units of frozen chicken to confront the decline in production at poultry farms caused by the heat wave affecting the DR. The heat wave has resulted in an 18% increase in the mortality of chickens. As a result, the price of chicken in markets has increased to RD$16.00 the pound, about a 40% increase.
Minister of Agriculture Amilcar Romero said that the government authorized only producers of chicken to make the imports. Hoy newspaper mentions that the limitation of the imports to producers is in violation of the agreements signed by the Dominican government with the World Trade Organization. The newspaper points out that by assigning quotas only to producers, consumers lose out as price competition is eliminated. Furthermore, he said that producers will be making more money with less effort in the imports than by producing chicken here.
The newspaper points out the similarities to the recent case of sugar imports. The government, likewise, has turned the nation's two leading sugar producers into its leading sugar importers in detriment to consumers and industrial users of sugar.

Supreme Court president confirms beaches are public
President of Supreme Court of Justice, Dr. Jorge Subero Isa confirmed that all Dominican beaches are public. He said that no citizen can be banned from visiting a beach.
The land access to the beach can be restricted, though. Dominican law states that the 60 meter front fringe of Dominican beaches is public.
Recently, two Dominican Supreme Court justices were banned from visiting Playa Dorada beach because they could not prove they were staying at the complex.

Government militarizes two sugar mills
The government sent in troops to the Ozama and Rio Haina sugar mills to dislodge opportunists who had taken over small to large portions of land belonging to the State Sugar Council (CEA).
Antonio Isa Conde, president of the Commission for the Reform of Public Enterprises (CREP) said that the military and the National Police will dislodge all persons who have invaded the lands, be they persons with ties to the government, military or political leaders.
CREP had met with the obstacle of the invaders when trying to finalize the leasing of state sugar mills and lands to private companies as part of the government's privatization process. The lands are expected to be assigned to the private companies on 9 September, and thus the need to vacate the properties now.
The newly appointed director of the CEA appointed new administrators at the Ozama, Boca Chica, Rio Haina, Montellano and Santa Fé sugar mills, where the most land violations had taken place.

Computer education is biggest achievement
President Leonel Fernández told El Siglo that the installation of computer labs in public schools is the achievement he most values as President. He said the computer labs introduce low income Dominicans to computers, enabling them too, like students at private schools, to integrate into the modern world. He says the next step is to promote bilingual education, so that Dominicans can become fluent in the language, and not just be able to pass English exams. Fernández has a vision of the DR setting up large high tech free zones. To make this possible, science and technology instruction at public schools needs to be improved, he says.

Keeping a watch on the storms
Residents and travelers to the Caribbean should continue to monitor Tropical Storm Emily. Forecasters expect Emily could become a minimum hurricane, but that its development could be negatively influenced because of the close proximity of Hurricane Cindy. Neither Hurricane Dennis nor Hurricane Cindy pose any threat to the Caribbean. Mid August to the end of September is the peak time for hurricanes to develop in the Caribbean region. To keep track of these storms, see http://www.intellicast.com/Tropical/World/United States/HurTrack3/

Ramírez, Sosa and Guerrero have a good day
Manny Ramírez, playing for the Cleveland Indians, batted three home runs in the game against the Oakland Athletics.
Sammy Sosa batted his 52nd home run, slipping ahead of Mark McGwire in the Major League home run race, version 1999.
Vladimir Guerrero, Montreal Expos, batted a home run and hit to extend his batting streak to 30 consecutive hits. Only three other players since 1980 have accomplished this - George Brett (Kansas City-1980), Jerome Walton (Cubs-1989) and Luis Gonzalez (Arizona-1999).

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