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Daily News - 06 October 1999

Catholic Church favors granting DR nationality to Haitians
The Catholic Church has sent to the National Senate a proposal to grant Dominican nationality to children, teenagers and adults, of Dominican origin or not, that are "countryless" and living in the DR. The petition primarily refers to the hundreds of Haitians that live in the DR and do not have legal identity documents. Thousands of Haitians illegally cross the border every year, most without even a birth certificate. Their children are left in a state of limbo because they are illegal residents and as such as regarded as "in transit" by local immigration authorities. When their children are born here, they are not issued birth certificates.
The Dominican Constitution states that children of at least one Dominican parent, and all those born here are Dominicans. But it makes the exception for those born of foreign diplomats or those born of parents that are "in transit" (without residence papers). The later is the case of thousands of Haitians.
While the Dominican Constitution excludes the issuing birth certificates to illegal Haitians, the Haitian Constitution considers all whom are born of a Haitian mother or father as a Haitian. The Haitian Constitution does not recognize dual nationality. The issue is probably the most difficult topic in the DR-Haiti bilateral discussions.
Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez personally called the President of the Senate, Ramón Alburquerque (PRD-Monte Plata) to give priority to the motion. Alburquerque said that the Senate would have to first consult with the Central Electoral Junta on the matter.

JCE wants RD$660 million for 2000 election
The Central Electoral Junta has requested from the Executive Branch a RD$552 million budget for the 16 May 2000 presidential elections. The JCE requests an additional RD$107 million, in the very likely case the election may require a second round. The request is being studied by the Budget Commission of the Senate and the Budget Office of the Fernández administration.

Sigma Dos poll shows Hipólito in the lead
The Listín Diario publishes today its Sigma Dos poll on the standing of the contenders for the year 2000 presidential election. According to the survey, held 15-20 September, 37.6% favor Hipólito Mejía of the PRD; 28.1% favor Danilo Medina of the PLD; and 18% favor Joaquín Balaguer, yet only proclaimed by the Partido La Estructura. 93-year old Balaguer has yet to accept the candidacy of the PRSC.
The Sigma Dos poll is the third published this month by leading Dominican media. All polls show Hipólito Mejía as the candidate to beat.

Government popularity still high
Hamilton, Beattie & Staff's survey shows that there is pessimism among Dominicans. The survey was taken 17-22 September, days when the talk of the day had started to be the expected increase in the price of gasoline and the effects of everyone's pockets. 45% (up 4 points from the earlier survey which took place in March) of Dominicans nevertheless feel that President Leonel Fernández has had a good government. 53% feels the contrary. Hoy newspaper comments that the favorable opinion Dominicans have of the government doubles that in favor of the government party's candidate, Danilo Medina, who registered a 23%. Only 14% responded that their personal economy is better than before. Those that feel things are better are primarily located in Santo Domingo and the East. Those that feel things are worse, live in the North and Northcentral provinces.

DR is model country for World Bank and IMF
The Dominican Republic will be declared a pilot country by international finance organizations, governor of the Central Bank, Hector Valdez Albizu announced. Valdez commented to the press upon returning from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank meeting held recently in Washington that the IMF and the World Bank both think that the DR is today in a similar situation as Singapore was when its development took off. Both organizations are willing to support the development and reform projects in the DR.

Students riots against university paying electricity bill
Students at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo rioted yesterday to protest announcements that the UASD would have to pay for electricity consumed. The announcement had been made by university authorities. Electricity distribution and collection of bills was privatized in August and government entities now have to pay up or get disconnected. The UASD not being an exception.
The UASD is at present under financial strain. The rector's office itself has publicized countless number of appointments of persons that render little or no service and are on payrolls. Over the years, and primarily due to political influences, hundreds of professors and employees, have attached to the university to secure personal benefit. The university staff benefits have consistently increased at tax payers expense. The budget grew and grew as governments increased the subsidy seeking to avoid conflicts. Today the UASD has a budget bigger than that of the city of Santo Domingo, and the cost per student to the state is almost higher than what it would cost the government to pay for tuition for students at private universities. Rector Miguel Rosado has attempted to reduce excessive expenditures, but the university continues to operate at a heavy deficit. It is very probable that it did not contemplate in this year's budget that it would have to pay its electricity bills.

Tourism Ministry says ad campaign attracts US tourists
A brief in Hoy newspaper points out that the Ministry of Tourism has spent US$7 million on advertising campaigns seeking to target the US market in 1999. Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez told the newspaper that as a result of the campaign there has been an increase in US visitors, primarily to Punta Cana. He said that in 1996, arrivals from the US were 22,727, in 1997 they increased to 41,000, and in 1998, they grew to 65,000. He said that during the first six months of this year, some 61,000 US tourists arrived. He expects arrivals to be more than 110,000 from the US by year's end. The average stay of US tourists in Dominican hotels was 3.1 days in 1996, 4.6 days in 1997, 3.8 days in 1998, and an estimated 2.7 days in 1999.

Rumors generate increase in gasoline sales
Expectations that the government would increase the price of gasoline caused a scarcity at several power pumps in Santo Domingo. Many drivers filled up, just in case. In 1996 when the barrel of fuel reached the US$26 level, the government increased the price of premium fuel to RD$32, subsequently lowering it to RD$27.90, despite the cost of the barrel of fuel plummeting to an all time low of US$10. International prices are now near the US$25 mark, but the DR purchases its fuel for less as it buys it with a special agreement from Venezuela and Mexico. President Leonel Fernández met with his economic team and Partido de la Liberación Dominicana members yesterday. At the end of the meeting, Engineer Temístocles Montás, Technical Secretary of the Presidency and a member of the PLD's Political Committee, said that an announcement would be forthcoming and the government is seeking a formula to make the burden of the fuel cost increase to be the least painful on the economy.

Beautifying the Colonial City
The Pact Arim, the French non-governmental organization that is in charge of the revival project for the historical center of Santo Domingo, is studying the relocation of printing, carpentry, tailor and seamstress shops, and other micro businesses. Pact Arim feels they could even be relocated within the Colonial City but to buildings that are more adequate to the line of work. Nelson Toca, spokesman for the project, pointed out that the small businesses are not aware of the damages their line of work does to the historical edifices in which they are located. An inventory shows there are still 99 business that employ 1,450 people in the Colonial City. This is down from 1,330 businesses employing 15,000 persons in the early 90s. Of the total still there, 45% are print shops, and 25% are tailors.

Bird Festival this month
Bird watchers be aware. The National Zoo and bird watchers organizations in the DR are carrying out their fifth, "World Bird Festival" all this month. The activity seeks to make all Dominicans aware of the importance of preserving birds.
Those interested in participating in the events planned should contact Eduardo Vasquez or Bolivar Cabrera, of the environmental education department of the National Zoo at 562-3149. Or Kate Wallace of the Annabelle Dodd Bird Watchers Club. The Botanical Gardens and the Grupo Ecologista Tinglar are also participating in the festival events. These include a bird count at Laguna Rincón on 10 October, and at Salinas on 24 October, and Pedernales on 31 October. Walks to observe birds in the Santiago province area have also been scheduled.

Jazz Festival in Puerto Plata
Sosua and Cabarete are proud to announce their annual jazz festival that will be held this weekend, 8-10 October. The International Jazz Festival will feature an artist line up as follows:
David Sanchez Quintet, Pamela Williams Quintet, Los Hombres Calientes (Irvin Mayfield, Jason Marsalis and Bill Summers), Monk Sextet, Mimi Fox, Sunny Sumter, Kotch Reggae Band (Jamaica), Willow Run High School Steel Drum Group (USA), the Puerto Plata Jazz Ensemble, Grupo Isla, and Sistema Temperado and Dominican Brass Ensemble.
The action is set for the Casa Marina Beach Resort amphitheater with performances also at Estrella del Mar Resort and nightclub jam parties in Cabarete and Sosua. For more information and schedules, see www.drjazzfestival.com

Maps donated to National History and Geography Museum
The National History and Geography is exhibiting a new collection of copies of maps of Española that date from 1580 to 1914. The maps were donated to the Museum of National History and Geography by former Dominican ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Vega. They complement the map collection of the museum. Vega collected the maps while he carried out research at the US Library of Congress. The copies are identical to the originals. Vila Benzo de Ferrer received the maps, in the name of the Museum.

National Symphony Orchestra season opens
National Theater presents, Symphony Season 1999.
The final concert of the second half of the National Symphony season will take place on Wednesday, 6 October with star performances of Colombian music. Tickets: RD$150-RD$120 for sale at the National Theater.
Alejandro Posada Gomez, conductor
Works by:
A. Mejia: Pequeña Suite, Aires Sinfónicos Colombianos
L. U. Bueno: El Cucarrón (Pasillo)
M. A. Martin: Carmentea (Joropo).
G. P. Alvarez: Mi Buenaventura (Currulao)
H. L. Bermudez: Prende la Vela (Mapale)
L.V. Beethoven: Symphony No. 8

Expo Europa opens tomorrow
More than 130 Dominican and foreign companies will participate in the Vth Expo Europa '99 exhibition, sponsored by the Federation of European Chambers of Commerce of the DR and the Office for the Promotion of Foreign Investment (OPI). The event will take place at the convention center of the Hotel Dominican Fiesta from 7-10 October.

Iberoamerican Theater Festival starts 11 October
The National Theater is announcing the start of the Second International Iberoamerican Theater Festival. The festival was first held in 1997. This time, Dominican works will be included in the program of plays to be presented. Dominican plays that will be shown are "Amanda," "Quijote," and "Wish-ky Sour." The festival brings to Santo Domingo several of the most outstanding theatrical performances from the Spanish-speaking world.
The festival is a series of theatrical presentations, forums and workshops on theater. The activities will take place at the Eduardo Brito and Ravelo halls of the Teatro Nacional, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Museo de Historía y Geografía, Paraboloide del Museo de Arte Moderno and the Museo de Historia Nacional through 24 October.
The event has become a place for the encounter of leading playwrights from Ibero America. Participants are coming from Spain, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and Argentina.

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