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Daily News - 05 October 1999

Milagros Ortiz Bosch praises cyberpark project
Vice Presidential candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, Milagros Ortiz Bosch told the Listín Diario that a government of the PRD would continue the cyberpark effort begun by President Fernández. President Fernández just returned from an 11-day tour to the US and Taiwan where he spent many hours selling the idea of setting up a high-tech park in Santo Domingo. He brought back promises of support and of future exploratory visits from Silicon Valley businessmen, a commitment for technical and professional support from an association of 27 Dominican high-technology professionals in Silicon Valley, and support for the installation of a high-tech institute on the premises of the cyberpark from the University of California (Berkeley and Stanford), as wel as US$15 million in donations from Taiwan.
Milagros Ortiz praised the efforts of President Fernández to secure investments for the high tech park whose construction begins this month near the Las Americas International Airport. She said a government head by PRD presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía would continue the effort. She highlighted the PRD believes in continuing projects, mentioning that the PRD government of Antonio Guzmán completed many works that had been started in the government of then President Balaguer, such as the dams and Haina I and Itabo II power plants. The PRD's leading opponent, Danilo Medina of the PLD (President Fernández's party) has based his campaign on promises that he is a guarantee of the continuity of the works and programs begun by the present government.

Balaguer says he may soon join his deceased sister
Former President Joaquin Balaguer made his first public appearance in almost three months yesterday, when he attended the mass in commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the death of his beloved sister, Ema Balaguer. Balaguer, has been declared presidential candidate for the Partido Liberal La Estructura for the 16 May elections. He attended the mass at the Iglesia Cristo Salvador, in the Honduras neighborhood. He arrived at 10:50 am. The priest was waiting for him to arrive to start the mass. A ramp was placed at the entrance of the church to facilitate his entrance. Listin Diario newspaper described the 93-year old blind former statesman's walk as slow but firm.
During the mass, a letter he wrote to his sister was read. In the letter he points out that people are separated more when they are forgotten than when they die. He writes about memories he has of his sister. He ends the letter: "There are many things that we would like to tell you, but since our voice is lost in a vacuum, we will tell you on the day, perhaps soon, of our inevitable encounter."
The Listin Diario publishes a photo of Balaguer seated at a pew at the mass. His only surviving sister, Carmen Rosa appears to be praying in a lively manner, but Balaguer and his nephew, singer Lope Balaguer, appear with their eyes closed, apparently taking naps.

Hipólito Mejía is most popular contender
Hoy newspaper publishes part two of its September Hamilton Beattie & Staff survey of Dominican voters as the 16 May election date approaches. Probable voters were asked: "Do you have a very favorable, moderately favorable, or moderately unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion about?"
The poll establishes that PRD candidate, Hipólito Mejía's popularity has dropped five points, but he continues to be the politician seen most favorably by potential voters. Former President Joaquin Balaguer, follows, and then PLD presidential candidate Danilo Medina and former vice president Jacinto Peynado. Peynado was the PRSC presidential candidate in 1996. He could be the PRSC candidate if Balaguer decides not to run for the PRSC. The results show Mejía's popularity fell from 67% in May of this year to 62%. 34% of the population has an unfavorable opinion about Mejía.
The survey showed that former President Balaguer increased his popularity, going from 46% to 51%, from May and September of this year. 46% have a negative perception of the former president.
Pollsters also asked potential voters about which party they favor and the responses showed: the PRD 44%, PLD 23% (down from 34%) and PRSC, 19% (up from 14%).
When asked, "Disregarding for whom you plan to vote, which of these political parties do you most identify with?," the response was: 48% PRD, PLD 24%, PRSC 18%. None 13%.
The poll was carried out 17-22 September throughout the national territory. 1,000 persons of voting age were polled. The margin of error of the poll is 3.5 percent points.

Minister of Labor says lots of work needed to modify code
Minister of Labor Rafael Alburquerque said that representatives of labor, business and the government will have to meet several times for the Labor Code is to be modified. Business groups have begun to pressure for changes in the Code. They say that while the Code was written to avoid company abuses against workers, today it is the companies that are being abused by laborers.
Several companies have become victims of street smart lawyers that are inventing cases against engineering firms, for example, as have denounced several engineering associations.
More so, lawyer Luis Rivas Hirujo, who recently has been very vocal about the business cause, says that the way the severance payment section is written up favors job instability and can lead to the bankruptcy of small companies.
He wants the article that orders a company to pay double of the sentence granted a worker if they want to appeal a case to be eliminated. Rivas said that it is in the better interest of workers to modify the code because without companies there are no jobs.
In the DR most companies will not go to court over a labor case, preferring to settle or meet high severance payments regardless of whether they are right or wrong.

"Cascos Negros" police camp investigated
Major General Pedro de Jesús Candelier ordered the confining to barracks of the "cascos negros" (black helmeted police) of the Campamento Duarte. These agents are usually used to break up riots and protests. Two active policemen (Corporals Luis Meran Sabana and Fausto Ortega) from that division confessed to being part of a gang that had assaulted and violated dozens of women in Santo Domingo (see http://www.dr1.com/daily/news100499.shtml). The chief of the Police appointed a commission made up by General Raul Almonte Lluberes, Inspector General; General Rafael Bencosme Candelier, director of Criminal Investigations, Colonel Bienvenido de Oleo Moreta, Chief of Personnel and Order; and Lt. Colonel Jose Armando Polanco, Commander of the Anti-Robbery Department.
Eight hundred agents serve at Campamento Duarte. All are now under scrutiny by the hierarchy of the Police.
Nelson Rosario Guerrero, spokesman for the Police said, "What we do not want is that anyone who may be involved in matters of this kind go without punishment; we have to get to the bottom of this."

Teller machine network is ready for Year 2000
ATH Dominicana, the largest local Automatic Teller Machine network, announced yesterday that it is Year 2000 certified. The network links ATM machines at the Banco Popular, Banco Mercantil, Banco de Reservas, Banco BHD, Banco Intercontinental, Banco Global, Scotiabank, Banco del Progreso and Banco ADEMI. Miguel Gil Mejía, general manager of the financial corporation, said that transactions have increased from 4.3 million in their first year, 1996, to a forecasted 20 million this year. Some 447 machines are part of the ATH Dominicana network. The banks have plans to install another 250 this year, for about 700 by year's end. The network has 80% of the ATMs installed in the DR. Some 1.2 million Dominicans have ATM cards.

Iberia flight problem reveals airport deficiencies
Hoy newspaper highlights that the Las Americas International Airport is not prepared to face a major aviation disaster. A DC-10 Iberia flight from Madrid, Spain flew over the runway for 27 minutes after confronting technical problems with its landing gear. Upon landing, only an ambulance, a fire engine, one doctor and two nurses were available, the newspaper reports. Many improvements at the airport are at a standstill as the government awaits for the National Congress to accept the company that won the privatization tender.

Sex can wait program begun
Two leading organizations dealing with AIDS in the DR launched this week a new campaign, "Sex Can Wait." The campaign seeks to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies and the number of Dominicans affected by AIDS. Sponsored by the Ministry of Health and funded in part by the European Union, the program has the cooperation of several Dominicana media. A recent United Nations sponsored study shows that in the DR almost one of every four teenagers has either been pregnant or will get pregnant. Studies show that 44% of the male teenagers and 36% of females have had their first sexual intercourse by 14. Of the teenagers that have had sex, 78% has been pregnant at least once. A recent study showed that 84% of teenagers think they cannot catch AIDS. The director of communications of Procets, one of the organizations spearheading the program, Gisela Ventura told Ultima Hora newspaper that while 20% of the nation's population is of teenage age, 52% of these have not received any sex education. The campaign seeks to reach out to teenagers and motivate them to delay their first sexual experience to prevent an early pregnancies, or their catching AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The program reaches out to teenagers 13-19 years old, urging them to wait for sex, or if they have already started, to take a break.

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