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Daily News - 17 February 2000

Final day of President Fernández in Japan
President Leonel Fernández, on an investment promotion trip to the Far East, told Dominican journalists covering his trip, that top executives of Honda, Mitsubishi and Toyota with whom he met in Tokyo, showed an interest in investing in plants to manufacture spare parts and vehicles in the DR.
Furthermore, President Fernández said that Mitsubishi is already installing a plant to manufacture air-conditioners in the DR. He said that Toyota will send an exploratory mission to study possibilities of assembling appliances and computer hardware in the DR.
The President visited the Fujitsu plant at the Tawasaki Industrial Park. There he was received by Tabashi Sekizawa, president of the corporation, Yoshiaki Mezajima, general manager, and Apsujuki Korawa, chief executive of the business holding group.
The President and Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez met with Mr. Funayama, president of the Japan Tourism Bureau. They addressed possibilities of selling Dominican vacations to the Japanese travelers. Some 17 million Japanese traveled West in 1999. The President also addressed the possibility of Japanese companies investing in hotel facilities that would cater to Orientals. The President again met with executives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to further discuss support for small Japanese companies that would make investments in Dominican free zone industries.
President Leonel Fernández also said that the last trip he makes during his term as President, which ends 16 August, will be to Seattle and Silicon Valley, following an invitation by Bill Gates.
President Fernández traveled today to Singapore for continued promotion of the Santo Domingo Cyberpark. From there he will fly to Bangkok, Thailand to attend the Xth UNCTAD Conference.

News regarding organization of the presidential election
The Junta Central Electoral committed to deliver all missing voting cards by 29 January. The JCE spokesman Wilfredo Alemany said that the board has increased the staff in key areas dealing with the delivering of the identification and voting cards.
The organization of the election has been critical. In 1998, a PRD-majority Senate handpicked the new judges, a step backwards from the electing of the judges by consensus that resulted in the successful organization of the 1996 presidential election. For months afterwards, attention focused on the political inclinations of the new board members, and not on their capacity to do the job or whether the job was getting done.
As a result, the JCE has been affected by continuous managerial and technical difficulties that have caused major delays in the schedule of issuing the new voting cards. As of 4 February, 4,097,619 citizens had requested their cards at the JCE. And the JCE had only been able to deliver 3,070,320. Some 1,027,299 citizens still do not have the voting and identification document in hand. Meanwhile, the Listín Diario reports that the director of the Democracy Program of the Carter Center (http://www.cartercenter.org/elections.html), Charles E. Costello announced that that organization will install an office in the DR to monitor the preparations for the election and the actual election in May 2000. Costello who visited with Laura Newman, director of programs of the Carter Center, said that in doing so they are accepting an invitation from JCE president, Manuel Ramón Morel Cerda.

Durán says he's innocent, points to others
Mariano Durán Cabrera, who was extradited from the US to face charges of having fired the shot that killed journalist Orlando Martinez in 1975, told local judicial authorities that he is innocent. He said he confessed to the crime in 1975 under pressure. He accused Salvador Lluberes Montás (Minister of Armed Forces at the time), Antonio Pou Castro, Luis Emilio de la Rosa Beras, the late General José Isidoro Martínez (chief of the A2 intelligence branch of the Air Force at the time), and Rafael Lluberes Ricart of the crime. His declarations contradict the declarations given by the others that are implicated in the crime of the journalist. He said he migrated to the US after two others that were witnesses to the crime (Eulogio Cordero Germán at a pizza parlor and Apolinar Rivas in bed after drinking beer) mysteriously died. He said he was accused of the crime because he was the military of the least rank of those involved.
He also told authorities that Navy Colonel Abreu Rodríguez is involved. He said Rodríguez, at the time chief of the intelligence services of the Armed Forces was whom sent him to Joaquín Antonio Pou Castro, who gave him his orders.
Journalist Orlando Martínez was murdered on 17 March 1975. The case has been kept open as its solving is considered to be necessary for freedom of the press in the DR. Former President Joaquín Balaguer (president at the time of the crime) wrote in one of his autobiographies that he knows the details of what happened, and that these will be revealed after his death.

Freddy Beras is most popular Dominican
Hoy/Hamilton Staff survey (31 January-4 February, 1,000 persons) shows findings that Freddy Beras Goico is the most popular of Dominicans.
The most favorable opinion rating by the survey is as follows: Freddy Beras Goico (74%), humorist and TV producer
Joaquin Balaguer (69%), former President of the Republic
Milagros Ortiz Bosch (60%), PRD vice presidential candidate
Hipólito Mejía (56%), PRD presidential candidate
Rafael Corporán de los Santos (54%), TV producer
Leonel Fernández (52%), President of the Republic
Jacinto Peynado (47%), PRSC politician and businessman
Danilo Medina (45%), PLD presidential candidate
José Joaquín Puello (34%), president of the Olympic Committee
Celso Marranzini (30%), president of Council of Businesses

100,000 people in DR could be AIDS carriers
Ernesto Guerrero, representative for the United Nations AIDS organization (ONUSIDA) in the Dominican Republic, says that more than 100,000 people could be AIDS carriers in the DR. Most of these persons are not aware they carry the disease, he said. He said that a general awareness needs to be created to carry out the planned RD$100 million campaign to educate the public regarding this fatal disease.
He said that an early start of sexual relations contributes significantly to the increase of the disease in countries like the DR. He says surveys that have been carried out show that 6 of every 10 men and 7 out of every 10 women do not feel they can catch the disease. The situation in the DR is worsened by the poverty prevalent in neighboring Haiti, the American country with the highest incidence of AIDS. "What is true is that in Haiti and many other countries there is a conspiracy to remain silent. Many infected persons will not talk about it, out of fear, out of the stigma around the disease. Society does not recognize that fear and the stigma are the factors that are facilitating its transmission," he said. He estimates that one out of every 20 persons in Haiti is infected with the disease.
He said that the DR already has model legislation and strategic plan to combat the disease, but that the country needs to implement these. He spoke at a Conference on AIDS and Development held at the V Centenario Inter Continental Hotel yesterday.

Spare the dogs?
The Centro Antirábico de Santo Domingo announced that as of March it will gather stray dogs that roam the streets of Santo Domingo and put these to sleep. Nelson Rudillera, deputy director of the center, told El Siglo newspaper that his department reached the decision due to the increase in cases of persons affected by rabies after being bitten by the stray dogs. The Secretary of the Municipality of Santo Domingo, Luis Jose Chavez says that the Municipality of Santo Domingo is against the elimination of dogs that do not have owners and cannot show proof of being vaccinated. He proposed finding another solution to the problem on grounds that the dogs are also living creatures.

Diablos cojuelos in Santo Domingo
The Dominican Republic's most colorful carnival, that of La Vega is coming to town. Do not miss the parade of the colorful "diablos cojuelos" from La Vega this Friday, 18 February along the Calle El Conde Peatonal, in the Colonial City. The carnival devils will parade from the Columbus Park, accompanied by the Municipal Band of La Vega. The parade is organized by the Union Carnavalesca Vegana, Comité Organizador del Carnaval, the Ayuntamiento Muncipal, Fundación Pro Desarrollo de la Vega, with the financial support of Induveca products.

Costa Verde-Rio San Juan Carnival
The northeastern coastal region known as Costa Verde (María Trinidad Sánchez province east of Puerto Plata) is preparing for its Carnavarengue 2000 slated for 13-20 February. The event merges carnival and merengue festival celebrations. Events will take place in Nagua and María Trinidad Sánchez province.

World class volleyball in Santiago
Some of the best volleyball players in the United States are in the DR for exhibition and practice games. The US players are competing against the Dominican national volleyball team. After a series played in Santo Domingo, the players that will be part of the US Professional Volleyball Association that initiates its tournaments in the US in January 2001, now are traveling to Santiago. The volleyball games will take place at 4 pm at the Oscar Gobaira Sports Palace in this city. Games are scheduled for Thursday, 17 February and Friday, 18 February.

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