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Daily News - 28 May 2002

Moving towards a modern Monetary Code
Newspapers today report that major advances have been made on the Monetary and Financial Code that will be presented to Congress for approval. The code sets the legal framework for the financial sector in the Dominican Republic. As reported, the interested parties and the Central Bank have agreed on 90% of the new bill’s content. 
Only pending is an agreement with loans and savings organizations and the Banco Nacional de la Vivienda, the state entity that regulates their operations. 
The idea is to send the bill to Congress by 16 August. 
The new bill would include provisions that would open the market to new banking investments. At present, only Citibank and Scotiabank are fully foreign-owned in the Dominican Republic. 

Most children live with both their parents
A report released by the Social Cabinet of the Presidency, the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency and the National Planning Office shows that nationwide 56% of children under 15 years old live with both their parents. Another 22% live in single parent households with the mother, and 5% with the father. 14% of Dominican children don’t live with either parent. Furthermore, the report reveals that the average size of a Dominican household is 4.3 people. In one of three urban households, a woman is the head of the family. In rural areas, women head one of every five households, according to the report in Hoy newspaper.

Boat people rescued
The navy rescued 18 people who attempted an illegal boat crossing to Puerto Rico. The shipwrecked passengers were rescued near El Cortecito, on the coast of La Altagracia province. The group of 11 men and seven women were rescued after the pilot of a small plane flying over the area sighted them. 

New one-way streets
Diario Libre reports that Tiradentes, Lope de Vega and Isabel Aguiar Avenues will be one-way streets as of next month. Jose D. Cedeño, director of urban traffic for Santo Domingo, says the goals are to reduce traffic jams, increase the capacity of the avenues, increase parking spaces and reduce the time it takes to cross the main intersections. 
Signs will be put up soon indicating the direction changes. 
Usually, after the signs are up, the government gives drivers a few days to become familiar with the changes before enforcing the new street directions. 
Tiradentes will be one-way north-south. 
Lope de Vega, which runs parallel to Tiradentes, will be one way south-north. 
Isabel Aguiar traffic will be south-north. 
The decision comes after meetings with personnel from the Ministry of Public Works, the Municipality of Santo Domingo and the Metropolitan Transport Authority. 
The changes will take effect 15 June 2002.

Constitutional reform on the way
Diario Libre reports that senators Ginette Bournigal (UD-PRD Puerto Plata) and Enrique Lopez (PRD-Bonao) say they are studying a constitutional reform proposal delivered by Monsignor Agripino Nuñez. However, Monsignor Núñez denied he has sent anything new to Congress on the matter. 
Last year, Monsignor Nuñez headed a commission to revise the constitution. As a result, they prepared a four-point recommendation that was agreed upon by the three leading political parties and President Hipolito Mejia and subsequently sent to Congress. This four-point agreement featured the elimination of closed electoral stations, popular election of representatives to the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), and the reduction from 50% to 45% of votes needed to win the presidency in a first vote. Congress rejected it at the time. 
Senators Bournigal and Lopez say they will also study a bill sent by murdered senator Dario Gomez Martinez, which included consecutive presidential re-election. The senators want to reform the constitution now and not leave it up to the new Congress. 
The leader of the PPH (Proyecto Presidential Hipolito) faction that supports the re-election of President Hipolito Mejia, said they now want to reform the constitution so that a simple majority is all that is needed to win the election. Eligio Jaquez of the PPH said on the Revista 110 TV program that whoever obtains the most votes would become President. 
Diario Libre speculates the congressmen may also make other changes that could affect the duties of the judicial branch, expand their own responsibilities and those of city governments.

Internal crisis at the PRSC
Members of the PRSC are pushing for the resignation of the principal leaders of the party and for in-depth changes in the party’s structure. Federico Antun Batlle urged an internal revolution of the party, even if this means removing some key figures. 
But some party militants feel he is part of the group of PRSC party leaders that sold out the party. 
Going into the 2002 congressional elections, the PRSC board rejected an alliance with the PLD, which had offered unconditional support in provinces and municipalities where either of the two parties had a majority. This alliance would have lead the PRSC to win at least eight senate seats and the PRSC-PLD coalition to have the majority in the Chamber of Deputies and the municipalities. The outcome of the congressional elections showed that most Dominicans voted against the ruling PRD party but the divide and conquer strategy of the government party worked in its favor. 
Yesterday, party militants of Santo Domingo West Municipality vandalized the headquarters of the party, painting black graffiti, destroying windows and furniture. They demanded that party leaders Anibal Paez and Ramon Rogelio Genao be replaced. Hoy newspaper says that the party members are also demanding the heads of Federico Antun Battle, Rafael Bello Andino, Victor Gomez Berges, Johnny Jones and Joaquin Ricardo for treason to the party. 
Humberto Salazar urged Balaguer to create a commission made up of Jacinto Peynado, Federico Antun Battle, Carlos Morales Troncoso, Jose Hazim, Eduardo Estrella and Amable Aristy Castro to convene a new assembly and choose a new board. 
El Dia’s page two columnist says the PRSC’s grassroots groups and candidates in the interior regret the damage caused to the party by the “agreement to not agree”, which had the support of the party’s leaders. They regret not accepting former Vice President Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal’s offer of unconditional alliance with the PLD. The newspaper recalls that a similar situation happened in 1990 when Juan Bosch of the PLD rejected the support offered by the PRD to oust then-President Joaquin Balaguer. Bosch lost by 80,000 votes after turning down an offer that could have brought him an additional 400,000 votes. 
Silvano Parra, speaking for the group, read a document calling the board members “traders.” 
“The grassroots of the PRSC have been sold like beef by the pound, and you can see that none of the board of directors have spoken about this, as it was the result of agreements with the PRD behind closed doors,” he said.

Sanz Jiminian to head Municipal League?
Hoy newspaper reveals the existence of an agreement signed by former President Joaquin Balaguer and the executive commission of the PRSC whereby they commit to present Miguel Sanz Jiminian as that party’s choice for secretary general of the Dominican Municipal League. Political analysts refer that the league, together with the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies, will continue to be in the hands of the PRSC candidate as part of agreements reached between the PRD and the PRSC. The PRSC has been ally to the PRD during the first two years of the PRD government.

74 terminally ill inmates
There are 74 terminally ill inmates at the La Victoria jail. President of the Colegio de Abogados de la Republica Diomedes Olivares sent the list of names to President Mejia asking that they be released. Ten of the inmates have AIDS, the others have tuberculosis, kidney problems, mental problems, lung disease, permanent paralysis, diabetes, cancer and heart problems.

Police send colonel to civilian justice system
Police Chief Jaime Marte Martinez has ordered the case against Police Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Beras Santos to be heard in a civilian court. Beras was suspended from the force and is in jail at the Ciudad Nueva courthouse. He faces a possible sentence of 30 years in jail. The colonel is accused of having forced Elizabeth Martinez Perez, a mother of four, to have oral sex with him before he would allow her to go free. She had been brought to the police station for questioning in regards to a case involving a death near her home. 
Police sources say they have a video that supports the testimony of Martinez who pressed charges against the colonel. The video was made when police agents investigating the charges framed the colonel. 
Martinez said she denounced the colonel to serve as an example for other women who may face a similar situation.

Spanish banks invest in DR banks
Listin Diario reports on the hefty investments that Spanish banks are making in the local banking market. Banco de Sabadell is reported to have paid US$20 million to purchase 20% of the shares of Banco Hipotecario Dominicano. Bancaja has opened negotiations with the Grupo Financiero Popular to pay US$21 million for 15% of that bank’s shares. Caja de Asturias has an agreement with Bancredito for the development of future projects. And Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria has opened an office here.

Molina conducts Pavarotti & Friends concert
Tonight in Modena, Italy, Dominican maestro Jose Antonio Molina will conduct the Pavarotti and Friends 2002 concert. The performance brings together one of the world’s greatest tenors and some of the most exciting names in pop music like Sting, Lou Reed, James Brown, Andrea Bocelli, Grace Jones and Zucchero. 
This year, the concert is in support of the UN's programs for Angolan refugees in Zambia. This is the third year of the last four that Pavarotti has made refugees the central focus of the celebrated annual event. A special choir consisting of 30 Angolan refugee children flown in from Zambia and 30 Italian children will perform on stage. 
The "Pavarotti and Friends for Angola" concert will be shown live in Italy by Rai Uno.

Aeromar links Santiago and New York
Aeromar became the first airline to link Santiago and New York City with a direct flight. Flight 809 arrived with 207 passengers and seven crew to the new Santiago Cibao International Airport yesterday at 6:19 pm, after a three hour and 15 minute flight. Aeromar is flying a B757-200 with capacity for 210 passengers. 
The flight leaves Santiago at 9 am arriving to NY at 12:40 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The return flights are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 2 pm arriving to Santiago at 5:40 pm. 
Aeromar president Raymundo Polanco highlighted how Cibao residents now have an alternative to fly to New York. Previously, only American Eagle offered a link to New York via San Juan, Puerto Rico. American Airlines is scheduled to start service into the new Santiago airport 15 June.
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