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Daily News - 02 November 1999

President Fernández protests OAS requests
President Leonel Fernández told Dominican reporters that he has instructed Minister Eduardo Latorre to formally protest the requests made to the Dominican government by the Organization of American States' Interamerican Commission on Human Rights. The international organization has requested that the DR give all Haitian migrants living in the DR work and residency papers and nationalize their children born in the DR. The OAS also described as a flagrant violation of international human rights the deporting of illegal Haitians that reside in the DR.
President Fernandez said that the document went beyond the attributions of the OAS. He said that the OAS charter does not give it the attribution to request that a sovereign government stop deporting illegal aliens. The President said that the OAS report adds a new ingredient to an issue that is strictly of a national character.
He stated that the government is about to send a new Migration Bill to Congress that would modify the Migration Law in effect since 1939 and help definitely resolve the Haitian migration issue.
He defended the Dominican Republic's sovereign right to repatriate illegal aliens. He said the deportations have been carried out respecting human rights and no abuses have been reported. He said that to this date the Haitian government has not made a single complaint regarding violation of its citizen's human rights of those being repatriated.
"What the Haitian government has not done, now the OAS takes upon itself to do without evidence, without proof that there have been violations of the human rights of the repatriated Haitians," said President Fernández.
The OAS document has met with widespread rejection in the DR. See yesterday's daily news reports for several reactions to the report
The Dominican consensus is that the OAS should promote international support to help Haiti develop and not provoke sterile discussions.

El Siglo newspaper denounces ONGs declare war on DR
El Siglo newspaper editorializes today that it is surprising that in the Haitian rural communities near the Dominican frontier 50 international non-governmental organizations have opened offices. The newspaper states that ten European and American countries maintain a bunch of ONGs in areas where there is no petroleum, no stock exchanges not even entertainment centers. El Siglo alerts that so much "international presence" is surprising.
The newspaper says that the personnel of these offices frequently request "humanitarian visas" for Haitians interested in traveling to the DR.
The countries that sponsor the ONGs have requested that the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the DR relieve Haitians from the obligation of paying customs taxes citing humanitarian reasons. The OAS request that the DR issue birth certificates to the offspring of the undocumented illegal Haitians has put the "lid on the bottle," says the newspaper.
El Siglo says: "Even the most uninformed Dominican knows that once the Dominican nationality is granted to a Haitian child, the authorities will not be able to repatriate their parents, brothers, grandparents. The international human rights conventions establish that it is not legal to separate families. And it would not be correct nor legal to deport the father of a Dominican."
The newspaper goes on to point out that: "US General Charles Wilhelm has decided to remove his troops from Haiti 'because there is enough security there.' He says that instead of fulfilling humanitarian missions they were dedicated to being bodyguards. So out go the armed military, trained to combat, and in come dozens of ONGs, civilians that propose that Dominicans donate their territory for humanitarian reasons."
"The Cardinal, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, with his habitual firmness of character, says he does not see the reason for 'such softness' when expressing our national position in any world forum. This country is a legacy of our founding fathers. 'We did not win it in a lottery', he has said. The Archbishop of Santiago, Monsignor Flores says that the ONGs are acting in a 'perverse manner'.
The newspaper favors President Fernández's decision to formally protest before the OAS. It ends the editorial saying that Dominicans should not fear. "No country succumbs when the government, religious and academic leaders assume their responsibilities."

Haitian-Dominicans not happy with appeal to control migration
Sonia Pierre, spokesperson for the Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women, criticized Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez for urging the Dominican government to install migration controls. She said this could result in aggressions against Haitian immigrants. In an interview for the Listín Diario, she said that thousands of descendants of Haitians are in legal limbo since the government does not recognize them as Dominicans, and they have lost their ties with Haiti. Most Haitians that have moved to the DR have no legal documentation from Haiti either. The newspaper also interviewed residents in the "Little Haiti" section of Santo Domingo, such as Ernesto Pierret, who said that the Haitian issue was making headlines because these are election times. Late Partido Revolucionario Dominicano José Francisco Peña Gómez's Haitian heritage was used against him in past elections, but today this situation is no longer so. Today all political parties are united on the need to control Haitian migration.

Poverty and business interests to blame
Economist and Jesuit priest José Luis Alemán told El Caribe newspaper that an increase in Haitian migration to the DR is inevitable due to the poverty and disorganization within Haiti. The only way to take pressure off the massive exodus is to strengthen Haitian institutions and bring welfare to Haiti, he said. He said that the Haitians will come since they find jobs in farms and construction works.
Father Alemán said that Dominican business interests are also to blame. He says the businessmen are not aware of the long-term problems the increase in Haitian migration will bring. He urged Dominican farm owners to incorporate modern technology to improve their farm's yield and not have to rely on the low cost farm hands.

Aura Celeste Fernández comments on Haitian migration
The coordinator of the Commission to Support the Reform and Modernizing of Justice, Aura Celeste Fernández said that Dominican businessmen are responsible for the increase in Haitian migration. She urged that the government, businessmen and other sectors join as soon as possible to define very clear, systematic and coherent policies in regards to hiring of Haitian workers for farms and construction works. She said none of the employers demand that the workers have legal documentation.
She said that in the DR there is not a clear awareness of the dangers that Haitian migration represents, or is there a common objective on behalf of different sectors nor the Dominican State regarding the Haitian problem. She said all problems have a solution.

Supreme Court to speak by written rulings and opinions
The Judges of the Supreme Court of Justice agreed that president of the Supreme Court, Dr. Jorge Subero Isa will no longer issue his opinion when interviewed by the press. From now on, he will only speak after the Court itself prepares an opinion or a ruling on an issue. Dr. Subero Isa responded this way to reporters when asked about the Haitian migration issue. He says the Court has not received a request for an opinion from the correct channels.

Haiti and DR to sign public health treaty
The Minister of Public Health of Haiti is expected in the DR this week. Michaelle Amedee Gedeon will visit to sign a joint work plan to control sicknesses that affect both countries. The plan was agreed upon during bilateral talks held between both governments.
Efforts to eradicate sicknesses in the DR are affected by the migration of Haitians to the DR. Thus the DR has pressed for cooperation between both countries.
The agreement will strengthen epidemiological services and vigilance along the frontier and joint actions will be taken to improve nutrition in both countries.
Minister of Public Health says that the debate regarding the Haitians is beyond his department. He said that Haitians are admitted to public hospitals and receive the same services as Dominicans do. He said that when patients arrive, the medics do not ask their nationality. The influx of Haitians, though, is a burden on the hospitals' limited resources.

Exchange rate commission to insurance payments
As of last week, Customs began to apply the 5% exchange rate commission to the insurance part of the cost of imported goods. This is a new practice. Hoy newspaper cites an unnamed businessman who complains this converts the surcharge into a tax, and only Congress can create taxes. Previously the government levied the charge only on the cost of the merchandise and the cost of transport.
Last month the government increased the exchange rate commission from 1.75% to 5%, as part of a package to increase its revenues. The government justified the increase stating it had to make payments on the foreign debt and complete 37 priority construction works by the end of its term, in mid August 2000. Hoy newspaper says that the new charge will generate an additional RD$84 million for the government.

Beepers, CDs, cellular phones in the DR
The Listín Diario publishes today the results of the Barómetro Iberoamericano de Opinión, a Latin American poll. The poll shows that the Dominican people are third in Latin America in the use of beepers, with 18% of the population. Only the people of Puerto Rico (35%) and Guatemala (32%) are more dependent on their beepers.
In the DR, 22% of those polled said they use cellular phones. This is higher than those polled in Mexico, Bolivia, Panama or Argentina. Cellular use in Iberoamerica is highest in Portugal (64%) and Spain (42%).
By year 2001, 38% of Dominicans said they expect to own a cellular phone and to be connected to cable TV.
Only 10% of those polled have computers in their homes. This is a similar rate to that of Peru (12%) and Uruguay (14%). Of the home computers in the DR, 52% were purchased last year, and half of the computers have Internet access. Only 19% of Dominicans with Internet access said they had carried out an e-commerce transaction.
59% of Dominican homes have music equipment that includes a CD unit.
37% of Dominicans have VHS equipment.

Congress studies banning use of cellular phones when driving
Congress is studying a bill that would ban the use of cellular phones by drivers. Several accidents have been attributed to drivers that were distracted because of talking on the phone. The Municipality of Santo Domingo also issued a resolution last week restricting the use of cellular phones by drivers to hands-free units. The bill in Congress establishes fines of RD$250-RD$500 for those caught talking when driving on city roads, and RD$500-RD$1,000 for highway violations.

TWA announces flight to Punta Cana
TWA has announced their new non-stop flight to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Starting 4 February 2000, TWA will be flying on Mondays and Fridays from JFK Airport in New York and Newark Airport in New Jersey. The airline and Sol-Meliá hotel chain are offering a special US$529 4 days p/p based on double occupancy at the new all-inclusive Meliá Caribe. The second person flies for free. But you have to book from 19 October to 15 January and travel by 4 February to 30 June. This information was contributed to DR1 by travel agent Ray Modesto of Dix Hills Travel/Amigo Tours. For more information, email him at [email protected] or call 800-673-5777

Hotel Association protests year end closing of Malecón
The Santo Domingo Hotel Association says it would be absurd that the Municipality of Santo Domingo approve a petition to close off the Malecón from Avenida del Puerto to the Máximo Gómez Avenue over the Christmas holidays. The promoters of Expo Milenio, a trade exhibition and music event, have requested the sea-bordering boulevard be limited to pedestrians from 25 December to 2 January. The Santo Domingo Hotel Association says this will affect area businesses and local residents. The Municipality has yet to reach a decision.

Dominican film wins in Latin American Film Festival
"Nueba Yol III", the sequel of the most successful film ever shown in the DR, "Nueba Yol", won an award at the Trieste Latin American Film Festival. The film tells the story of immigrants that see their coming to New York as the solution to all their problems. The film won the award for reflecting "a world reality."

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