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Daily News - 01 November 1999

President opens barrio library
President Leonel Fernández inaugurated the first government library in a low-income city barrio. Codetel donated Internet-connected computers to the library. The Villa Duarte barrio library is the first to open as part of a program that seeks to promote reading. It is also the first library to serve the eastern side of Santo Domingo. The library has space for 10,000 books. It has two reading halls with capacity for 60 children and 60 adults. It has areas for the presentation of talks, conferences, videos and cultural and artistic performances. Diómedes Núñez Polanco, director of the National Library, said that the government will soon open more libraries throughout the country.

Bilingual public schools to start in January
President Leonel Fernández announced that the government will open its first public bilingual school in January. He said this is part of a program that seeks to bring bilingual education (Spanish-English) to low income students. In his opinion, bilingual education has been restricted to the affluent, and children of public schools only received English classes. "If our children do not acquire the knowledge these times demand, and form their characters adequately for the times, if we do not form citizens for a truly democratic society, our illusions for a better country will evaporate," he said. "We have to start with education," said President Fernández upon making the announcement.

US$40 million to improve Las Americas Airport
The government announced the Ministry of Public Works is investing US$40 million in the expansion of the runway and construction of a taxiway at the Airport Las Americas, the DR main airport. Construction was begun two weeks ago and also includes a new parking area and the expansion of the access to the VIP salon. This will be completed by the end of November in order to be ready to receive the visiting statesmen coming for the Santo Domingo Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Summit in November.

Puerto Plata senator "kidnaps" airport privatization case
Senator Ginette Bournigal of Puerto Plata is said to have sequestered the contract for the concession of four airports to Aerodom. The contract was passed by 25 of 26 voting senators and would have moved on to the Chamber of Deputies but is now missing. Senator Bournigal is against the contract because of irregularities in the procedure to approve it. She said that the role of the Senate is to pass or reject the contract, not to modify it. The Senate informally studied the bill and then sent recommendations to the Executive Branch requesting that they be incorporated and if they were they would pass the project. The Executive Branch followed suit and the majority of senators voted in approval. But Senator Bournigal says this is in violation of the Senate's attributions and has said she will send the case to the Supreme Court of Justice for an opinion. The airport privatization calls for major investments and improvements in the airports of Gregorio Luperón (Puerto Plata), Las Americas (Santo Domingo), Arroyo Barril (Samaná) and María Montez (Barahona).

Port privatization begins
The director of the Dominican Port Authority, Melanio Paredes said that the procedures to privatize Dominican ports begin today. He explained that the parameters that will rule the concessions were established in Decree 309-98. El Siglo newspaper points out that while several investors are interested in Haina Oriental port, that handles most of the cargo of the DR, there is very little investor interest in the ports of San Pedro de Macorís and Puerto Plata.

Peggy Cabral to return to city hall
Peggy Cabral, Santo Domingo's deputy mayor, said she will return to her post at the Municipality of Santo Domingo. She had requested an indefinite leave of absence, reportedly after having differences with fellow party member, Mayor Johnny Ventura.
She accepted to return when city alderman rejected her request for an indefinite leave of absence.
Peggy Cabral is the widow of former PRD leader, the late José Francisco Peña Gómez. She is known as the Dominican version of Eva Perón.

CBI Enhancement Bill gets congressional setback
The Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America reports that the trade package with CBI Enhancement suffered a major setback on 29 October. On Friday, the US Senate rejected a motion to invoke cloture on the trade package including CBI Enhancement, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and legislation to renew the Generalized System of Preferences and Trade Adjustment Assistance. The motion failed by a vote of 46 nays to 45 yeas (60 yeas are required to invoke cloture). No Democrat supported the motion, and a number of Republican senators - Bunning (KY), Thurmond (SC), Smith (NH), Snowe (ME), Collins (ME), Campbell (CO) ­ voted with the minority party.
AACLA says the trade package is not dead yet. In the three hours since this morning's vote, Majority Leader Trent Lott has filed two cloture petitions which will lead to a pair of votes on Tuesday, November 2. If the first vote is approved (invoking cloture on final passage), a second vote will be
held on final passage. Senator Lott and Minority Leader Tom Daschle are currently trying to work out an agreement that would allow their colleagues to use these two opportunities to vote on the substance of the package rather than on other partisan considerations.
Analysts agree that roughly 70 of the Senate's 100 members support the substance of the trade package, but a parliamentary dispute sank Friday's vote. Senator Lott employed a parliamentary procedure that would have barred any effort to amend the legislation, and Senator Daschle and his fellow Democrats balked. Recent acrimony in the Senate - especially the rejection of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and ongoing budget battles - set the stage for today's dispute.
Underscoring the non-substantive nature of this vote, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) voted against the package. He did so even though he is a strong supporter of CBI, and earlier this week he distributed AACLA's brochure promoting passage of CBI to all his Senate colleagues with a "Dear Colleague" letter urging them to cast a favorable vote.

Commenting on OAS opinion on Haiti
The OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report states that the DR should give Haitian migrants work and residency papers and nationalize their children born in the country. The report has met with widespread opposition in the DR. The comments of those opposing the report coincide that these are not times for polemics. Most sectors urge instead that a movement to attract international help for Haiti be promoted.
The OAS criticized that the Dominican government uses a "restrictive interpretation of the constitution to consider children of illegal foreign nationals born in the DR to be "in transit" and thus not eligible for Dominican citizenship. It also criticizes what it describes as massive deporting of illegal Haitian aliens, saying this is a flagrant violation of international human rights.

Ministry of Foreign Relations
Ministry of Foreign Relations said that the DR is a sovereign country with a right to establish the contents of its Constitution and its legal framework. It says the OAS mention of the Haitian problem is a result of a complex historical process and is not attributable to the present government. The Ministry of Foreign Relations says that the Fernández administration has done the most to foster cooperation between both countries as a base to resolve the problems that affect us and our relations with Haiti. The Ministry says that the opinion is a statement regarding the need to focus in depth on Haiti's problems.

The Catholic Church
Cardinal Nicolás López Rodriguez
, head of the Catholic Church in the DR, criticized that the DR government has adopted a complacent and laissez faire position in regards to the massive penetration of illegal Haitians. He said that the DR government cannot be intimidated by the US, Canada, France and the Caribbean community. He called for concrete solutions to the problem. He said the DR has already done more than its share. "It is not a matter of being anti-Haitian, it is a matter of being Dominicans", he said.
He said "the DR shares the island with a brother country with which we want to work and we have helped more than any other country has done". He asked why the OAS does not request that Washington D.C. government not legalize the status of all illegals living in the US?
In the opinion of the Cardinal, the OAS should seek that Haitians born in Haiti be issued birth certificates. Very few Haitian parents bother to get birth certificates for their children at birth or even later declare their children in Haiti. Today, very few Haitian adults now living in the DR have any identification papers.
He said that the problem is a historical one, dating back to the days when the island was divided into two. "It would have been better if France (France brought in African slaves to work in their Haitian plantations) had stayed with the entire island, and not that two territories with two distinct cultures be left to develop. He said that what must be clear to the entire world is that each country has its own citizenship, culture and language. "I don't know how it fits in any head that you can firmly tie together things that are not acceptable nor compatible. No can oblige me to think like a British person or a Swede. Why do Dominicans have to think like Haitians or Haitians like Dominicans. No sir, let us keep our identities and our differences," said the Cardinal.

The daily press
newspaper said that foreign diplomats and international organizations should not be "exciting the wasps." The newspaper editorial on the OAS report says "the comments do little to resolve the situation and will only let loose the nationalist demons and then innocent blood could flow."
El Caribe newspaper proposes that the US, Canada, France and Spain accept to each nationalize the half million Haitians they would like the DR to nationalize. Also that the international community fund the cost of educating and health needs of the Haitian immigrants. Furthermore, the newspaper says that while it would appear redundant to say so, there is an apparent interventionist attitude on behalf of governments and international institutions that show so much concern over the Haitian solution. The newspaper instead advocated that an international conference be held to come up with concrete solutions to the Haitian problems.
Listin Diario says that the report is not new as the OAS and other organizations had suggested its conclusions before. The Listín says that it is now especially untimely, because the Haitian political crisis has worsened, and when that occurs, more Haitians migrate to the DR. The newspaper advocates that the time of sterile controversy end, and alternatives that lead to clear policies and effective application through the year come forth. In its editorial it states that today the presence of thousands of undocumented Haitians, living in indigence throughout the national territory, is a reality.

Political parties
Jacinto Peynado
, presidential precandidate of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRS) and a former Vice President of the nation, said that with the report the OAS and wealthy nations seek to exercise international pressure so that this nation be burdened with Haiti's problems. He called it intervening in national sovereign affairs. He criticized that the OAS is interpreting the Dominican Constitution and telling Dominicans what to do. He urged the international community to participate in a positive way towards the solution of Haitian problems. He said that to comply with the OAS request would only be a major incentive for Haitian migration to the DR to increase, and that the DR is not economically able to assume the burden of the population of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Donald Reid Cabral, a former Minister of Foreign Relations, and acting president of the PRSC said the proposal to give Dominican citizenship to the undocumented illegal Haitians was an "intolerable meddling in national affairs.
José Tomás Pérez, secretary general of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) said that what the OAS should be spearheading is a major international movement to help Haiti, not instigating that the DR carry the burden of Haitian poverty.
Tony Raful , acting president for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), says that what the OAS proposes would violate the Dominican Constitution. He says Haiti's problems should not be the exclusive responsibility of the DR, but of the international community that has unfulfilled the promised US$1,000 million in investment in Haiti when Jean Bertrand Aristide was brought back to power. He also criticized the Dominican government for historically being a major employer of Haitians, in the sugar cane fields and other farms. He said that the present government has not exercised any control of Haitian migration, and on the contrary is a major employer of Haitian labor in its mega construction projects.

Presidential candidates
Hipolito Mejía said that between the DR and Haiti there is a matrimony in which there is no divorce, that the matter requires all seriousness. He advocated that the government take up the proposal to build a major industrial complex along the frontier that would serve to develop the frontier and provide jobs for Haitians that are migrating throughout the DR.
Danilo Medina , presidential candidate for the PLD, said that Dominican Constitution is clear on the matter and does not need to be interpreted. He said he adheres to the position of the Dominican Constitution that Dominican nationality will not be granted to the children of illegal aliens. He urged that the international community come forth and help Haiti. He says the Dominican people have already shown their solidarity, spending millions of the education and health of the Haitians. He says that the DR has poverty in common with Haiti. "The biggest favor the OAS would make to the Haitians is to be at the vanguard of a movement to motivate international solidarity in favor of Haiti," he said.

Haitian beggars to be sent back to Haiti
Ministry of Tourism and Department of Migration, together with the Tourism Police, carried out an operation to rid the central points of Puerto Plata city of Haitian beggars. The Haitians were transported to the frontier for subsequent deportation. Cesar de los Santos, deputy Minister of Tourism in Puerto Plata, said he had received instructions so that this situation does not continue. Community leaders denounced last week that apparently some organized bands were trying to benefit from the misery of the Haitians offering "jobs" to Haitian women with small children who were being transported to tourist areas to beg. The Haitian beggars were harassing Dominicans and tourists alike.

Haitians can enroll in Dominican schools
Minister of Education Ligia Amada Melo said that children of illegal Haitians can enroll in public schools. She says the government is making an exception in the rule that requires students to present birth certificates in order to contribute to reduce illiteracy in the DR. She says that the Haitians take places available for Dominican children, but the government is authorizing their entrance into public schools for humanitarian reasons. She said that the measure also benefits the children of poor Dominican farmers whose parents have not requested their children's birth certificates. While they will get an education, the Ministry will not be issued eighth grade certificates until they can present the birth certificates. She said, though, that she is aware that many Haitians are enrolled in high school programs. One of the major problems of the Haitian immigrants is that they do not have certificates or any legal documentation themselves, which makes it more difficult for them to be issued documentation of any kind.
"The more uneducated people we have, the more problems we will have," she said.
The official decision comes in response to the requests of the Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas that had urged a solution so those children without birth documents could get an education. It also formalizes a practice that had been common for many years.

Dominican government not invited to Montreal conference on Haitians in DR
The Dominican government has not received an official invitation to participate in the conference to be held at the Montreal City Hall on "challenges for the advancement of the Haitian cause in the DR," said the Ministry of Foreign Relations. Guy Alexandre, a former controversial Haitian ambassador in the DR, will be one of the key speakers on the human rights and social justice issues to be presented at the conference.

Big blooper
The Listín Diario, the nation's leading newspaper, is sponsoring a campaign to improve spelling at a nationwide level. The newspaper publishes a serialized spelling pamphlet every Tuesday. On Sunday, though, the front page of the Listin featured a big blooper in an oversized front page title. The headline read: "Pasientes criollos no quieren hospitalizarse con haitianos." The word "pasientes" (pacientes) was erroneously written with "s" instead of "c". In its Monday edition, the newspaper says it is very embarassed and apologizes. It explains the misspelled word got in when late in the night there was a change in the headline. This could have been the most obvious blooper in the history of Dominican journalism. It was the talk of the weekend, especially because of the newspaper's efforts to improve spelling.

Sammy Sosa shows his greatness in San Pedro de Macorís, his hometown
Sammy Sosa showed his greatness over the weekend. He had been invited to throw the first ball in first game of the Estrellas Orientales, the San Pedro de Macorís-based team. He was surprised to hear several boos among the applauses. He told the crowd how strange it was that he was applauded all around the world, and booed in his hometown. More applauses, but more boos. The boos were said to be because Sosa had been expected in San Pedro de Macorís upon his arrival to the DR and did not head there until several days after his arrival.
He told the people of San Pedro: "When I returned a national strike had just ended and I thought this was not the moment to do something big and I wanted and the town deserved. "I am "serie 23" (he was referring to the digits in the ID cards of all born in that province). I am and always will be. I am not an American nor nothing. We all make mistakes, I am human, and he who is free of sin, may he throw the first stone."
"These are the people that love me and that I love, for that reason I will bring three orchestras so that my fellow townspeople can have a good time. This is the town I love, the city that saw me grow up and if I had not come earlier it was that I didn't want to come without bringing something important." He announced a big party for 7 November.
And of course, he got unanimous applauses.

Pedro Martinez takes a motoconcho back to his hotel
Pedro Martinez's, who is undoubtedly the best pitcher today in the US Major Leagues, on vacation in the northwestern town of Monte Cristi was riding a jet ski at sunset. His jet ski ran out of gasoline and he had to swim back with it to port and be assisted by Navy men. He was assisted by a motoconcho driver who took him back to his hotel. Martínez commented on how helpful people were, even before they recognized him.

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