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Daily News - 28 October 1999

Santo Domingo Cyberpark gets a start
President Leonel Fernández, in the presence of Minister of Foreign Relations of Taiwan, Jason Hu, broke ground yesterday for the construction of what will be the first high tech industrial park in the Caribbean, the Santo Domingo Cyberpark. The park is conceived as a model for other advanced technology parks that would be built throughout the DR.
President Fernández explained that the park's construction is part of a national strategy to insert the DR into the development of the high tech industry, informatics, electronics and telecommunications. This strategy has evolved especially at a time when trade agreements impede the further development of the apparel industry in the DR.
The high tech park is envisioned as a facility to host manufacturers of computer software and hardware, electronic assembly and manufacturing, medical and pharmaceutical items, as well as service and information technology firms, telecommunications firms, data capture and conversion operations, electronic media and Internet-related entrepreneurs, and software operations.
Two "intelligent" office buildings, the center for high tech education, a food court, a shopping mall, and manufacturing plants will be located in the park.
The government of Taiwan is contributing US$15 million to the facility. Of these US$10 million will go for equipping the Instituto Tecnológico de las Américas, the high tech learning center.
Fernández said the new park will provide new opportunities for the nation's development, complementing already working free zones. He said the construction of the park is possible because of the country's sustained economic growth and political stability.
Speaking during the ceremony, Minister Jason C. Hu said the country's monetary stability, competent labor and sure export markets make investing here attractive to Taiwanese.
Traveling with him are 16 businessmen that have shown an interest in investing in the park.
Eddy Martinez, executive director of the Office for the Promotion of Investments (OPI-DR) said that Codetel, Tricom, GTE, Motorola, American Multiplexer (from Silicon Valley, California) have committed to open plants in the new park.
The park is going up at Km. 27 of the Las Americas Highway, about five minutes from the Las Americas International Airport.
The plans for the park were drawn up by Reynolds, Smith & Hills and Ivey, Harris & Walls of the United States, with the participation of Sercitec, as the local counterpart.
Also attending the ceremony was Vice President Jaime David Fernández.

Blackouts now last upwards of 12-hours a day
More than 12-hour blackouts have again become common in the DR. The government reports that several major power plants are out for maintenance or repairs, including the large Smith and Enron plant. This is resulting yesterday in a 430 megawatt deficit. National demand is at 1,550 megawatts and the generators are only delivering 1,120 megawatts. The power generation deficit is accompanied by major structural problems of the electricity sector. Generation and distribution is now in the hands of the private sector, but the necessary coordination and structures are not yet in place making matters worse.
Long blackouts are nothing new in the DR, a country where businesses and middle class families all operate parallel generator systems in order to survive frequent power outages. But in the past month the situation has worsened, and some areas are reporting receiving less hours of power than of blackouts.
In August, power generation and power distribution was privatized with the promise of improving the system. There are promises that by December, there will be considerable improvements, and that by March, the power outages will become a matter of the past.
Hotels and resorts do not depend on the national electricity grid for their power needs, and are all prepared to last long hours on their own generators.

Haitian children to be given DR ID documents
Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations Minou Tavarez Mirabal, in an interview in Hoy newspaper, says that the government has plans to provide the children of illegal Haitians with Dominican ID documents, regardless of whether they were born in the DR or in Haiti. These will be recognized by the Ministry of Education and will enable them to graduate from school, and receive other basic services.
The Dominican Constitution makes an education mandatory for all those living in the DR, regardless of their status. But the children have confronted difficulties in getting their educational certificates (6th and 12th grade) because they lack birth certificates. Even if there is proof the children were born here, Dominican law does not provide for granting Dominican birth certificates to the children of those residing illegally in the DR.
Yesterday, when attending the Santo Domingo cyberpark ground-breaking ceremony, Haitian acting ambassador Guy Lamothe urged the Dominican government to issue birth certificates to the 280,000 children of Haitians born in the DR so these could get an education. The Dominican government has sustained the Haitian consulate should be issuing Haitian birth certificates to these children. The Haitian Constitution recognizes the children of Haitians as Haitians. The issuing of the ID documents would be a temporary solution to a long-standing problem.
Director of the Department of Migration, Danilo Díaz said that the Dominican government cannot issue birth certificates to the children of individuals that themselves have no identification document. Most Haitians that cross the frontier do not have any ID documentation. Among the poor in Haiti getting a birth certificate for their children is the least of their worries. As a result, most Haitian adults are undocumented individuals. The Department of Migration is also issuing ID cards to the adults.
The deputy minister said that while the DR cannot solve the internal problems of Haiti, it can make contributions to democracy, institutionality and economic development in Haiti. She recalled that when Haiti was intervened by the international community to restore Jean Bertrand Aristide, promises for international aid were made. These have not materialized and poverty in Haiti has worsened. Migration to the DR has been a way to lessen the social pressures in Haiti.
Mirabal stressed that while Haiti's economic and political problems are not our responsibility, they are our problems because, "el Masacre se pasa a pie," or the Masacre River that divides the two nations can be crossed by foot (making a reference to the title of a renown book by Dominican author Freddy Prestol Castillo).
"For the past 40 years, Dominicans have lived like ostriches, believing the Haitian problem will disappear if we don't talk about it," she said.
The Dominican government has promoted bilateral talks within the framework of a Dominican-Haitian commission, but the migration issue is complex.

Haitian beggars invade Puerto Plata
The president of the Playa Dorada Hotel Association, former Puerto Plata senator Rafael Silverio Galán denounced that a mafia seems to be behind the trucking into Puerto Plata of indigent Haitians that are begging in the main public areas. He said the beggars harass both Dominicans and tourists. In a report in the Listín Diario, he urged the authorities to put a stop to the trafficking with the Haitians and the waves of beggars. "There is a rumor that those Haitians are transported here by a gang of Dominican and Haitian traffickers that seek to profit from the miserable aspect of the beggars. The women come with small children in their arms, and then disappear at days end. The next day a different group of beggars is brought in," he denounced.

Business versus truckers
The National Council of Businesses (CONEP) has alerted the government that the nation's leading union of truckers, Federación Nacional de Transportistas (Fenatrado) is again attempting to instate a monopoly on cargo delivered to and transported from Dominican ports. Celso Marranzini, president of CONEP, urged government authorities to impede the use of violence and force by the Fenatrado truckers. CONEP has denounced that Fenatrado wants to impose a unified cargo transport tariff. CONEP's position is that they are free to transport their cargo with whomever they please. CONEP has denounced that independent transporters have been threatened with the burning of their trucks and cargo. CONEP also denounced that Fenatrado members also threaten the personal safety of the drivers.
Meanwhile, Melanio Paredes, director of the Dominican Port Authority, said that there will be no turning back in the government position of guaranteeing the free access of any transporter to the port area. CONEP would like the Port Authority to police the areas outside the ports to confront the Fenatrado militants.

26% Dominican children are obese
Dr. Ruth Báez, president of the Dominican Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition says that 26% of the Dominican population suffers from obesity. She said that obesity has increased as eating at fast food restaurants has become more and more popular. She said that a national nutritional campaign is needed to raise an awareness of the importance of eating fruits and vegetables.

New hotel in Dominicus beach
The Coral Canoa Beach Resort & Spa will be the third hotel to open up at the Dominicus beach strip in southeastern La Romana. The Coral Canoa is slated to open Monday, 1 November. It has 536 rooms (476 superior and deluxe, 40 junior suites, 16 penthouse suites and four one-bedroom villas with jacuzzi). The hotel will have four restaurants, five bars, a discotheque, pools, gym, game area, sports center, children's club, tennis courts, amphitheater, two rooms for meetings (200 and 150 persons), and a spa area.
The local Coral hotel chain invested US$30 million in the property. The company also announced plans to invest an additional US$34 million in expansion and improvements of its properties in the DR, including 90 additional rooms at the Coral Costa Caribe in Juan Dolio, a 200 room hotel in Samaná and another hotel in Santo Domingo.
Other hotels along the Dominicus Beach strip are the Viva Dominicus, the Dominicus Palace (opening this winter) and the Gran Dominicus. The Gran Dominicus and Viva Dominicus primarily cater to the Italian tourist, the Dominicus Palace will attempt to attract the US market, and the Coral Canoa will receive primarily German tourists.

Pablo Neruda romance story at Casa de Teatro
Casa de Teatro presents "La Chascona," the story of the Matilde Urrutia and Pablo Neruda romance. Urrutia was the third and last wife of the legendary Chilean poet. Jorge Díaz, an award-winning Chilean playwright, wrote the story. This is a Flor de Bethania Abreu theatrical production. Casa de Teatro, Arzobisopo Merino 110. Thursday, 28, Friday, 29 and Saturday 30 at 8:30 pm. RD$100. Tel. 689-3430.

Pedro Martínez opens 1999-2000 Baseball Season
Pedro Martínez threw the first ball to a standing ovation of a full stadium at the start of the Dominican Winter Baseball League last night. Because of contractual obligations, Martínez cannot play in the league, but he recalled with nostalgia all the times he and his brother wore the Licey Tigers uniform. Martínez is the most likely winner of the 1999 American League Cy Young award.
The Escogido Lions defeated the Licey Tigers in the 10th inning of the opening game, 3-2. Fernando Tatis and Ronnie Belliard, two leading Major League players were in the game last night, to the delight of the fans.

Baseball Games Schedule
Thursday, 28 October 1999
Santo Domingo: Aguilas vs. Escogido
San Francisco de Macorís: Escogido vs. Pollos

Friday, 29 October 1999
Santo Domingo: Estrellas vs. Licey
Santiago: Escogido vs. Aguilas

Saturday, 30 October 1999
Santo Domingo: Pollos vs. Escogido
San Pedro de Macorís: Estrellas vs. Licey

Sunday, 31 October 1999
Santo Domingo: Escogido vs. Licey
San Francisco de Macorís: Aguilas vs. Pollos

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