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Daily News - 04 November 1999

US Senate passes textile parity!
They said it couldn't be done, and it was done. After five years of intense lobbying efforts by diplomats, governments, politicians, and even sports figures (such as Sammy Sosa), the US Senate yesterday voted 76-19 in favor of granting Central America and the Caribbean nations the same trading conditions as granted to Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement. For the bill to become law, it yet needs to be conciliated with the African Growth and Opportunity Act passed by the House of Representatives. The bill passed by the Senate awards these conditions to subSahara African countries as a way to promote US investment and development conditions in Africa. Afterwards, President Bill Clinton needs to sign the bill.
President Bill Clinton, a major sponsor of the trade initiative, said that the expansion of the Caribbean Basin Initiative trade package creates new advantages for Central America and the Caribbean and is a way for the US to be a good neighbor. He said it would be good for the US economy in the long range. Only goods manufactured with US materials qualify for the quota-free and duty free exemptions.

Government sends protest letter to the OAS
The Dominican government sent a letter protesting the report issued by the Organization of American States and the latter's requests regarding Dominican treatment of Haitian illegal migration. The letter says OAS member states have the right to deport illegal aliens and urges that the organization contribute in a convincing manner to help Haiti overcome its economic and social problems.
The Ministry of Foreign Relations addressed the letter to Cesar Gaviria, secretary general of the organization.
Following is a literary translation of the letter:
"The content of the report includes positive aspects on the situation of human rights in the DR, especially where it points out the political will and the spirit of modernization with which the Government of President Fernández Reyna has contributed to open new spaces and initiatives for the promotion and protection of human rights.
Nevertheless, chapter 11 of the report on the situation of Haitian migrant workers and their families in the DR, has generated profound concern amidst ample national sectors and a total rejection on behalf of the Dominican people that has been expressed in the media.
The Dominican government considers an excess of your attributions that the Human Rights Commission suggest and recommend the policy that the Dominican state, or any other member state, should apply regarding foreigners that live illegally in its territory, and more so, regarding undocumented persons that carry no legal identity document of any kind from their country of origin, nor from any other, which is the case of the majority of the Haitians that are in the DR.
"The Dominican government sustains irrevocably that it is exclusive attribution of member states, in virtue of the exercise of their sovereignty, to implement judicial measures estimated to be convenient to its interests, regarding the migratory policy in regards to the Constitution and internal laws. Likewise, the government considers it an excess of the Commission of Human Rights to interpret the Constitutions of member countries on affairs that are of internal interest to each state as has occurred with numeral 363 of the report where it expresses in relation to the Haitians: 'Most confront a situation of permanent illegality that they transmit to their children, who cannot obtain the Dominican nationality, because according to the restrictive interpretation that Dominican authorities make of article 11 of the Constitution these are children of foreigners in transit.'
"The same can be said for numeral 364 of the report, where the Commission calls for the Dominican state to adopt measures to improve or regularize the situation of undocumented Haitian workers by giving these work permits and legal residencies and legalizing the situation of their children, according to the principal of jus solis stated in article 11 of the Constitution.
"We would like to clearly establish that the Dominican government understands it is its irrevocable right to repatriate all foreigners that have come in and remain illegally in the country, while respecting their human rights, as in the practice has been occurring.
"For these reasons, we again appeal to the international community so that, as we have been doing in the DR, it may contribute with a greater degree of solidarity and in a convincing manner to the overcoming of severe economic and social difficulties that burden that sister nation."

President of the Senate comments on Haiti issue
President of the Senate Ramón Alburquerque joined the generality of Dominicans that have rejected the OAS petition that the DR nationalize illegal Haitians that are living in the DR. He said the DR cannot be burdened with a nation that has almost the same number of inhabitants and has many more problems than the DR. "We do not accept that the image of the DR be damaged for gratis," he said. He said he stands with President Leonel Fernández on the issue.
While President Leonel Fernández has lobbied for Haiti in international forums, such as the United Nations, to tell by the OAS report, the response of the international community has been to expect that the DR, by continuing to accept thousands of indigent Haitians, carry the burden of Haitian poverty. The DR's position is that there are alternative ways to resolve the Haitian problem and urges the international community to focus on these.

Chamber of Deputies passes Financial Code
The Chamber of Deputies passed the Monetary and Financial Code that has been debated in Congress for six years. The bill was approved without modifications. It provides the legal framework for monetary and financial operations. It regulates operations of the Central Bank, the Superintendence of Banks, commercial banks, loans and savings banks and other financial organizations. Several chapters of the code are already in operation.

Sky lift to be inaugurated today
President Leonel Fernández is expected in Puerto Plata today where he will officially inaugurate the Costa Dorada Iberostar hotel, the Isabel de Torres sky lift and the dredging of Puerto Plata port.

PRSC convention set for early January
The Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, the third largest political party in the DR, has announced the convention to choose its presidential candidate in the 16 May 2000 presidential election will be held in the first 15 days of January 2000. By then, 93-year old former President Joaquín Balaguer should decide whether he will run for President or not. Political secretary of the party, Federico Antún Batlle said that all aspirants to the presidential nomination may run in the event. These include former Vice President Jacinto Peynado, San Pedro de Macorís Senator José Hazim, former Vice President Carlos Morales Troncoso, former Governor of the Central Bank Mario Read Vittini, and politician Angel Lockward. Balaguer has delayed the announcement of his intentions to run for the last minute, citing health considerations. Other aspirants say they are candidates in reserve and will not run while Balaguer aspires to the post.

Hipólito Mejía describes his government
Hipólito Mejia, the presidential candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), spoke to the nation last night and promised to instate a institutionally-efficient government based on free market principles in order to reduce national social equities. Speaking in a short-sleeved shirt, he told the nation that he would strive for a socially responsible government, capable of bringing prosperity to the 50% of the nation that lives in poverty today. He accused the present government of creating a great disorder, an economic crisis because of the mishandling of the treasury, and a government credibility crisis, because of its lack of fulfilling commitments made with the different sectors of the population. He criticized that the government has only shown concern for meeting its international debts, forgetting its obligations to contractors and suppliers within the DR. He said that his technicians have strategies to restructure and renegotiate the terms of the debt to reduce it with relatively small investments, taking into account assistance from the governments of the US, Japan, France.
He proposes a model of government that reduces the predominance of the President, the discretionary management of state resources and the granting of economic and social privileges to individuals and sectors. His government priorities are education, modernizing productive structures for an increase in food, decentralizing of hospitals to improve the health situation, drastic measures to preserve the ecology. He promised that no less than 40% of the administrative jobs of his government would go to women. And he promised to reform and modernize the state by decentralizing the power and strengthening the local governments. He envisions a soldiery state, but not a benefactor state.
All independent polls show Mejía is the strong candidate to win the 2000 election.

JCE president promises all is in control
The president of the Junta Central Electoral, Dr. Manuel Ramon Morel Cerda said that the electoral court is working on solutions to the problems that affect the issuing of voting cards and its informatics system. A confidential report containing recommendations by an informatics advisory group suggests the urgency of instrumenting measures to prevent a failure of electoral informatic systems.

Illiteracy levels in the DR are 15.5%
The Encuesta de Gastos e Ingresos de los Hogares, a national survey on household income and expenditures, indicates that average illiteracy in the DR was at 15.5% in 1998. The illiteracy rate of heads of households is at 15.8%, down from 23.2% in 1984.
The study covered 4,810 households, from October 1997 to September 1998. The survey was carried out by the Department of National Accounts and Economic Statistics of the Central Bank carried it out with the assistance of the World Labor Organization, the CEPAL, the Program for Development of the United Nations, local and foreign institutions.
The study showed that while in 1984, 59.6% of Dominicans had grade school education levels, by 1998, this had declined to 55.2%. The survey showed, nevertheless increases in the number of Dominicans reaching high school levels, which went from 11.4% in 1984 to 18.2% in 1998, and university levels, with 5.8% in 1984 and 10.8% in 1998.
55.8% of Dominicans had grade school level education, 16.9% a high school education, and 7% university level education. 20.3% of Dominicans had no education at all. The study also revealed that 61% of those that cannot read or write are 10 years or less years of age.

Yaqui Núñez del Risco to take Freddy Beras' place
Yaqui Núñez del Risco will return to Color Visión to try to fill the air time that TV producer Freddy Beras Goico will be leaving when he moves on to Supercable, Channel 33, next year. Núñez, of El Show del Mediodía fame, is already hiring staff for the shows he will produce from 9:30 to midnight on week nights, and noon to 7 pm on Sundays. Núñez was recently awarded a contract for productions from the 27 de Febrero Boulevard, so several programs may be telecast from there.

AP names Pedro Martínez Major Leagues Player of the Year
"The best pitcher in the Major Leagues today," 28-year old Dominican Pedro Martínez received 56 votes to 14 to win the Associated Press award for Player of the Year in the Major Leagues. Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves was next with 14 votes, and Dominican Manny Ramírez of the Cleveland Indians followed with 12 votes. Martínez ended the year with 23 wins and 4 losses, and 313 batters struck out.

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