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Daily News - 27 March 2000

Am Cham presidential candidate talks scheduled
The American Chamber of Commerce presidential candidate talks will be held on schedule, despite speculation to the contrary. The American Chamber of Commerce organizes the mid-April luncheons so that its members can meet the presidential candidates. Candidates make a presentation, and then chamber members get a chance to ask questions. Am Cham says they have letters from the PRD (Hipólito Mejía) and the PLD (Danilo Medina) confirming their attendance. The talks are scheduled in order of how the parties fared in the previous presidential election. Thus, the order would be: first, presidential candidate of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano; second, presidential candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano; third, presidential candidate of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana.
The PRSC presidential candidate, 94-year old Joaquín Balaguer is scheduled to speak first. But, of the three, he is the only one who hasn't confirmed his attendance. A proposal for him to be represented by former Vice President Jacinto Peynado, the PRSC vice presidential candidate, was rejected by the American Chamber of Commerce on grounds that it would set an undesirable precedent. Balaguer is affected by severe physical liabilities common to a person of his age.
The Am Cham presentations are sold out early, so those interested in participating should purchase their luncheon tickets with the Chamber several weeks in advance. To contact the Chamber, write amcham@codetel.net.do or call 809 544-2222.

Simulacrum showed up logistics and personnel training problems
The trial to verify that voting card information and photographs are correct, that voters ascertain where their table is located, took place over the weekend. While thousands of citizens did not clear through the system, the objective of the exercise was accomplished. The Junta Central Electoral, the body in charge of organizing the presidential election, wanted it to serve as a sampling to determine the problems that could show up on 16 May 2000, when the actual election takes place.
According to Participación Ciudadana, a civics organization that supports electoral activities, the primary problems that the JCE needs to tackle are:
Logistics problems: JCE staff turned up late with the lists.
Insufficient Junta Central Electoral staff.
Absence of voting lists on the table.
Incomplete voting lists.
Delegates of the political parties controlling the process of verification.
Computers of different parties installed in the voting stations.
Control of the entrance of observers.
Problems with the photographs of the voting lists and the voting card numbers.
Persons that appear as dead or with two different cedula numbers.
Persons that do not appear registered in the voting list.
The JCE extended the exercise for 24-48 hours in 10 municipalities where the documentation was inordinately late.

Lobby group being set up in Washington, D.C.
Former US ambassador Bernardo Vega is advising the Dominican-American National Roundtable on the setting up of a Washington, D.C. office. The office will serve as a national forum for the analysis and strategic planning regarding topics of interest to the Dominican community in the United States.
The group seeks to unite voices of the Dominican community to further the Dominican resident cause. To this end, the Roundtable is organizing the III Annual Conference in October at the University of Columbia in New York City.
Vega explained that by organizing themselves politically, the Dominican community will be able to lobby for legislature changes that will benefit the Dominican-American community, like Cuban-American, Haitian and Central American nationals have already done.
Vega mentions that Dominicans were affected by a 30% reduction in the number of residence visas issued, as per the 1996 migration revision. He estimated that the DR needs to lobby to achieve benefits such as those achieved by the Central Americans, Cubans and Haitians in order to regularize the status of an estimated 75,000 illegal Dominicans in the US.
Vega explained that it is important to present these initiatives in districts where there are large concentrations of ethnic voters in order to get the support of congressional representatives. He said there are large concentrations of Dominicans in 15 US states.

Police accuses three of crime against cinematographer
The National Police accused three men, 25-year old José Moreno Beltré, 21-year old Melkin Pérez Otaño and Manolo Pérez Soto (fugitive of justice) of murdering cinematographer Jean Louis Jorge. Jorge was found dead at his Gazcue apartment where he lived alone on 13 March. He was stabbed to death, the evening of 12 March after returning from filming beauty queens that would compete for the Miss Universe Dominicana and Miss World Dominicana titles at a Bavaro beach resort in the East. The Police says that José Moreno Beltré was a close friend of the deceased. The Police says the threesome sought to rob the victim, but that investigations are ongoing. The case now will be transferred to the judiciary for court hearings.
The Police was on Moreno Beltré's trail after a footprint was left in the bloodied floor of Jorge's apartment. The Police arrested several persons known to be close friends of Jorge for investigation. Blood found in one of the shoes of Moreno led the Police to suspect his involvement. He was accused when the blood found on his shoe matched the DNA composition of the late Jorge.
Melkin Pérez Otaño and Manolo Pérez Soto are former Police corporals that had been removed from the force accused of theft. They did time in the Najayo Jail where they met Moreno Beltré and became friends. Moreno was in jail on drug trafficking charges.
According to the Police, Pérez Otaño confessed that his pal Moreno invited him and Pérez Soto to the home of Jorge to rob the later. He said that Jorge always had lots of cash on him. After arriving around 10:15 pm, Moreno stabbed the cinematographer, cueing his friends to come up and complete the robbery.
The Police says they found the following items belonging to Jorge at Pérez Otaño home: two CD players, credit card, a pair of shoes, three rings, a gold chain, two cameras, a VHS player, cédula, and a Swiss Army watch.
The Police denies the threesome is being framed. It said that three assistants of the District Attorney's office were present during the questioning of the suspects.
Jorge's body was found around 2 pm of the next day by Manola Brea, a domestic worker who had about 15 years in his service. One of the better Dominican cinematographers and TV producers of all times, he was the son of a well-known cardiologist.

New bridge over Ozama expected to be ready by August
El Siglo newspaper reports that the bridge going up parallel to the Juan Pablo Duarte bridge could be completed by the end of the Fernández term in August 2000. The bridge is part of a road plan to decongestion east-west traffic. At present there are three concrete bridges over the Ozama River, and a temporary barge bridge that was installed by the government to facilitate the revamping of the Duarte Bridge.
The new bridge is 700 meters by 33 wide. It has four lanes for vehicular traffic and two for train traffic. It is estimated to handle 80,000-90,000 cars in peak hours.
The bridge is being built by Dragado FCC-Construcciones Civiles y Marítimas at a cost of about RD$400 million.

Changing the rules of a tender to favor one company?
Hoy newspaper reveals that the Ministry of Public Works has changed the terms for the tender regarding the tramway along Av. John F. Kennedy. According to the newspaper, six of the seven companies that were bidding said they will quit the tender in protest for the last minute change in terms. The Ministry of Public Works in an addendum to the tender terms now requires that the technology that is chosen have been proven for at least five years. The companies say this eliminates companies that are offering new state of the art technologies. The addendum from the Ministry of Public Works is dated 17 March 2000.
The companies that are pre-qualified are Alstom (France), Bombardier (Canada), Siemens (Germany), Caf-Necso-Dimetronics-Elecnor (Spain), Adtranz (Germany), Raytheon (US) and Fiat-Ferroviaria (Italy.). Sources told Hoy newspaper that the government already has made up its mind who should win the bid to build the 11 km. first stretch of the tramway system over John F. Kennedy Avenue. The newspaper says it wants one of the two German companies to win. Reportedly, the company would import trains that have been in use for more than five years.

Driver's license bureau gets new offices
President Fernández participated today in the formal reopening of the Dirección General de Tránsito Terrestre. The DGTT is a division of the Ministry of Public Works that is in charge of issuing drivers permits in the DR. Dominicans for several months now have been able to enjoy the efficiencies brought by the new Sistema de Gestión de Licencias de Conducir (SGLC), as well as expedite service at the newly remodelled offices of the DGTT. The government invested RD$17.3 million to remodel the building and RD$29.3 million to equip it with modern technology and furnishings.
The new totally computerized systems makes it nearly impossible to falsify a driver's license. But what Dominicans most enjoy is the speed of the procedure, and the fact that the assistance of third party persons, "buscones" is no longer necessary. As part of the revamping of the department, in addition to the remodeling of the central offices, five branches were set up in Santiago, Puerto Plata, Azua, La Romana and San Francisco de Macorís. In the past, to get a driver's license, residents in interior communities had to come to Santo Domingo, the capital city. In the country's two largest cities, Santo Domingo and Santiago, the DGTT has set up six commercial points for renewals.

It's 3,175 meters, not feet up to Pico Duarte
The DR1 Daily News wrongly posted on Friday that the distance up the Pico Duarte, the largest mountain in the Caribbean, is 3,175 feet. Wrong. It's 3,175 meters. We appreciate that several readers wrote to alert us of the mistake. The correction was made on the web page on Friday, but we had to wait for this Monday issue to notify all about the mistaken distance indicating term. The item we are correcting commented on the National Department of Parks implementing a shorter way to get to the top. (www.dr1.com/daily/news032400.shtml)

Discovery Channel televises Dominican surgical operation
Discovery Channel is preparing a one-hour documentary after having filmed several long distance surgical procedures carried out at the Centro Médico de Medicina Avanzada Abel González. The focus of the documentary will be the use of telemedicine facilities and interactive surgery. Dr. Abel Ricardo González performed the operation with Dr. Nick Gabriel, of Yale University in Santo Domingo. Assisting them in New Haven, Connecticut were medics from Yale University. Five endoscopy and laparascopy surgeries were performed using special satellite transmission equipment. Dr. James Rosser participated from the University of Yale, and explained details of the operation.

Reps to Miss Universe and Miss World chosen
Gilda Jovine, Miss Universe Dominicana 2000, and Claudia Santaella, Miss Mundo Dominicana were chosen the Dominican representatives to the leading world pageants. Gilda Jovine is a blonde, 19-year old, advertising student, who represented Constanza. Claudia Santaella is a brunette, 19-year old, professional model who represented the National District (Santo Domingo).
Winners of special awards were: Marlene Burgos, Puerto Plata, Miss Friendship; Yaira Abreu, Santiago, Miss Photogenic; Dulce Esperanza Tavarez, San Francisco de Macorís, Miss Belleza Rondinella.
Miss Venezuela, Martina Thorogood, first finalist of the Miss World 1999 pageant, was one of the jurors. Other jurors were Dr. Angel Contreras, Mirtha Hernandez de Capellán, president of Rahintel; TV producer Mayra Robles; Marino Ramírez, secretary Acroarte; Felix Reyna, director of Rahintel and Univisión Dominicana; Luis Bautista, president of Luva Auto Import (Kia trucks); and Mary Pily Rodríguez, representing Salon Rondinella. For an online photo, see
http://www.elsiglord.com/vivir/27a/4.htm
http://www.listin.com.do/260300/welcome.htm

El Gordo de la Semana returns Sunday, 9 April
Freddy Beras Goico, the most renowned Dominican TV producer of all times, announced his "El Gordo de la Semana" Sunday show will be back on TV as of Sunday, 9 April. His show co-host will be Mildred Quiroz. The show will be telecast from 12 noon to 7 pm Sundays on Supercanal, the UHF station that broadcasts on Channel 33 in the UHF and on Channel 54 of the cable system. Beras Goico also announced he will be presenting "Todos Juntos", another variety show during the noontime slot, from 12 noon to 2 pm, with Laura Reynoso as co-host.
Supercanal airs as of Saturday, 8 April.

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