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Daily News - 05 November 1999

UN honors Mirabal sisters
The United Nations has declared the 25th of November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in the name of the Mirabal sisters. The story of the Mirabal sisters became better known when Julia Alvarez, a Dominican migrant in the US, turned it into a best-selling historical fiction novel. Her "In the Time of the Butterflies" tells the story of the lives of the three Mirabal sisters (Patria, Minerva and Teresa Mirabal), who were killed on 25 November 1961 for being members of the underground during the Rafael Trujillo Molina. The assassination triggered the wrath that led to the dictator's assassination six months later. The DR had submitted a request to this end, which was passed by the vote of 101 countries.

Celebrating a US Senate vote
Yesterday was a day of celebration in Santiago, the second largest city that concentrates the largest number of apparel manufacturing plants. The US Senate had just voted in favor of permitting Central American and Caribbean textile plants to export quota-free and duty-free goods using US materials to the US. President Leonel Fernandez said it is a great step forward that will consolidate the foreign investment and increase jobs. The approval by the Senate is a big step in the right direction, but the bill has to be harmonized with a bill already passed by the House of Representatives, and then President Clinton needs to sign it. All this has to occur before 12 November, when Congress takes a recess until January. Analysts say it would be best if the bill passes now as in January, the start of an electoral year, the congressmen may have other agendas.

Armed Forces calls for improved conditions for the frontier
Minister of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Manuel de Jesus Florentino considered that repression of Haitians illegally coming to the DR is not the solution to the Haitian problem in the DR. The Listín Diario reports that the Dominican military has given Dominican soldiers the order to avoid confrontations with the Haitian population. The Minister of the Armed Forces urged that there be an improvement in the living conditions along the frontier with Haiti and an increase in international economic assistance to Haiti to improve living conditions there. The government has stepped up the repatriations of Haitians and controls along the border as a reaction to the consensus of Dominicans that rejected the OAS recommendations to nationalize illegal Haitians living in the DR. The government was criticized for its laissez-faire attitude to the growing flow of illegal Haitians in the DR. El Siglo reports that all seemed normal in the frontier area on market day. Minister of the Armed Forces said that commerce must continue and be strengthened. Thousands of Haitians and Dominicans go in an out of Haiti to deal at the frontier markets.

Working permits for Haitian construction workers
The president of the Dominican College of Engineers and Architects (CODIA), Martín Concepción said that the construction industry has found a great ally in Haitian workers, not because they are cheaper, but because they work harder. He said that 95% of the Haitians employed in construction works are illegal. He recommended that the Dominican government issue these workers work permits.

President inaugurates Puerto Plata skylift, but it's not open yet
President Leonel Fernández formally opened the Isabel de Torres Skylift in Puerto Plata yesterday in Puerto Plata. But it could be until the end of November when it is open to the public. Cesar Hidalgo, manager of the skylift, said that missing is that the Ministry of Tourism, which is in charge of the skylift, meet again with him in Puerto Plata. A meeting has been set for next Tuesday to set an opening date. Hidalgo said that the skylift is ready to operate and that Minister Felix Jiménez is committed with the tourism industry of Puerto Plata.

Iberostar Costa Dorada formally opened
President Leonel Fernández also inaugurated yesterday the 516-room Costa Dorada Iberostar (Marapica beach next door to Playa Dorada. The hotel has been receiving tourists since July 1999.
Speaking for the Costa Dorada project, businessman Alberto Jana Tactuk said that a second hotel would open in this new beach area in October 2000, bringing the total number of rooms to 916. Two more are in planning stage and would be built by Spanish investors. This would bring Costa Dorada's room total to 2,000. Costa Dorada is located on Marapicá beach, next door to Playa Dorada beach hotel complex and its near 5,000 hotel rooms.
During his visit to Puerto Plata, President Fernández also received the dredging of Puerto Plata Port. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez highlighted that Puerto Plata receives one of every three tourists that visit the DR.
He said the dredging of the port will permit the arrival of new cruiseships, and that two are expected to start coming as of November.

Expressway from Santo Domingo to San Pedro
Deputy Minister of Public Works Claudia de los Santos said that once expansion works are completed, drivers will be able to travel uninterrupted from Santo Domingo to San Pedro de Macorís. Traffic lights will be removed along the 27 de Febrero Expressway, Las Americas Expressway and the new East Expressway (Autovía del Este) that leads into San Pedro de Macorís. It should take a half an hour less to go from Santo Domingo to La Romana. Since bottlenecks to get out of Santo Domingo will be reduced, it soon will be easy driving to go East. As planned, the Las Americas Expressway stretch from Duarte Bridge to San Vicente de Paul Avenue will be ready by December. The stretch from San Vicente de Paul Avenue to Juan Carlos Bridge is scheduled to be completed by February. Las Americas highway is being paved, but the government has plans to open up to privatize the expansion and conversion of the Las Americas Highway into an expressway. The next government would carry this out.

Santiago-Navarette Highway expansion advances
Regional director for the Ministry of Public Works Pelagio Marmol announced that the expansion of the Santiago-Navarette stretch of the Duarte Highway will be ready by March. This will reduce the time it takes to get from Santiago to Puerto Plata. The government is adding two new lanes, and Engineer Marmol says the highway will look like the Santo Domingo-Santiago expressway. The expanded stretch of the highway will link into the Avenida Circunvalación Norte that is being built in Santiago and that will allow travelers not interested in entering the city of Santiago to circumvent this city on their route south or north.

One way streets by December?
Hamlet Hermann, director of the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) has requested the cooperation of business owners in the area known as Polígono Central to reduce congestion in time for the Christmas shopping period. The Polígono Central is the area that has undergone the most residential and commercial construction in the past five years. Its borders are John F. Kennedy (North), 27 de Febrero (South), Winston Churchill (West) and Ortega y Gasset (East).
Hermann wants to implement the Traffic Regulation Plan passed by the Municipality in 1997 before December. The plan is intended to organize traffic in the area, avoiding the bottlenecks. "To leave things as they are is to add to the chaos," he said.
The plan contemplates turning into one way streets:
East-West: Fantino Falco, Max Henríquez Ureña, Porfirio Herrera, and Roberto Pastoriza.
West-East: Gustavo Mejía Ricart, Rafael Augusto Sánchez, Víctor Garrido Puello and Francisco Prats Ramírez.
North-South: Federico Geraldini, Manuel de Jesus Troncoso (between Francisco Prats Ramírez and 27 de Febrero).
South-North: Juan Barón Fajardo, Manuel de Jesús Troncoso (as of Francisco Prats Ramírez).
The project would ban parallel parking on all streets of the area. Likewise, from 7 am to 7 pm, parking would be banned on all side streets of John F. Kennedy, 27 de Febrero, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Ortega y Gasset. Also Tiradentes, Lope de Vega, Gustavo Mejía Ricart, Roberto Pastoriza.
The project also provides for allowing parking only on the right side of the direction of the street.
AMET is proposing that owners of empty lots in the area turn these into parking lots to decongestion the streets.

Third of rural households are poor
A third of all that live in rural areas in the DR live in extreme poverty, according to the Third National Survey of Household Expenditures and Incomes. The survey showed that 45% of the homes of the rural poor have no potable water connections and 69% use latrines. 36% of these households burn their garbage, as they do not enjoy municipal garbage collection services. 79% of these homes, have an electricity connection. And only 16% have dirt floors. 75% have zinc roofs, but 50% have wooden walls.
Some 2.1 million persons live in extreme poverty in the DR, that is they have income of less than US$60 per month. Of these 690,534 are children under 10 years, and 113,424 are older than 65 years old.
21.5% of the population, or 412,599 persons, live with income that places them in conditions of extreme poverty.

Politicians favor an increase in government employee wages
Spokespersons for the three leading political parties called for an increase in the wages of government employees. The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) and the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) all said they favor an increase in wages paid to government employees. In the 2000 budget bill prepared by the Executive Branch, the government only contemplates a 75% increase to the wages of military and police up to the sergeant rank, and a 25% for agronomists working for the Ministry of Agriculture.

Monetary and Financial code criticized
Former governor of the Central Bank Hugo Guiliani Cury criticized that Congress has passed a Monetary and Financial Code that is obsolete. The bill was debated for six years in Congress and approved without modifications. He said that it does not reflect the evolution of the banking and financial systems throughout the recent years. He said it doesn't even contemplate investment banking. Furthermore, he said it does not give sufficient autonomy to the governor of the Central Bank who continues to be dependent on the Executive Branch. Guiliani Cury said that it brings nothing new to the financial framework, and alerted because of its obsolescence, it could bring problems in the near future.

Weekend baseball games

Friday, 5 November 1999
Santo Domingo: Licey vs. Escogido
Santiago: Estrellas vs. Aguilas

Saturday, 6 November 1999
Santo Domingo: Aguilas vs. Licey
San Francisco de Macorís: Escogido vs. Pollos

Sunday, 7 November 1999
Santo Domingo: Estrellas vs. Escogido
Santiago: Licey vs. Aguilas

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