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Daily News - 19 September 2002

East is next for social security system
Minister of Labor Milton Ray Guevara said that the eastern region would follow the southwest with regards to the implementation of the new social security system. The system goes into effect in November in the provinces of Barahona, Pedernales, Independencia and Bahoruco. Minister Guevara said that the provinces of La Romana, El Seibo, La Altagracia, San Pedro de Macoris and Hato Mayor would be next, starting March 2003. 

Presidential checkup
President Hipolito Mejia was at the Clinica Corazones Unidos yesterday for a routine physical checkup. The President spent two hours at the clinic and while Dr. Victor Attalah explained that the checkup was short, the President lingered on to visit with friends in the medical center. 
Reporter Fernando Marte of Cadena de Noticias asked him how he felt. Speaking with tongue in cheek, Mejia responded, “From here up (from the wait to the head) I am fine. From here down (from the waist to his feet), I think I have problems.” 

RD$600 million to strengthen justice
The European Union is contributing 36 million Euros over four years to improve government in the Dominican Republic, as part of a project called Support Program for the Reform and Modernization of the State (PARME). In an interview with Hoy newspaper, Sonia Chirinos, who is in charge of the RD$600 million program, explained the scope of their objectives. The funds would help improve information on the management of municipal finances, modernize the justice system, contribute to reform of government departments, and decentralize the executive branch of the government structure. In addition to supporting reforms of Dominican jails, they will contemplate the establishment of a national government employment policy and the strengthening of the National Public Administration Institute, which will be in charge of training government workers. The program began in March of this year and has a four-year duration.

The best jobs in the country?
On the day they were sworn in, the 151 deputies of the Dominican Republic received a paid two-week vacation notice, causing work sessions that were to begin on August 20 to be delayed until September 3. Yesterday, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rafaela (Lila) Alburquerque, announced an indefinite break. With a RD$174 million renovation of the Congress building currently under way, the deputies have a hard time concentrating on their work. Diario Libre reports that the remodeling is estimated to take 13 months and was only begun recently. 
Legislators are among the best-paid employees in the government, and also receive the best perks.

What Dominicans think
El Caribe released new findings from the Penn, Schoen & Berland poll carried out in August. 
1) Do you think the revenues generated by the new taxes are being invested effectively to combat poverty or are being used for other purposes? 75% said “other purposes”, and 19% said “to combat poverty”. 
2) As for the national parks, do you think Bahia de las Aguilas and the National Park of the East construction of hotels that generate foreign exchange and jobs should be allowed, or is this not convenient because it affects the environment? 73% are not in favor of building the hotels. Only 22% favored the construction of hotels.
3) Recently there has been an increase in the enrollment in the Armed Forces. This has resulted in an increase in military equipment purchases. Is this beneficial or detrimental to the country? 49% feel it is beneficial, 45% said it is not. 
4) In the past years we have had the death of Peña Gomez, Juan Bosch and Joaquin Balaguer. Of the three, which made the most valuable contribution to the country? 70% said Balaguer, 19% Peña, and 8% Bosch. 
5) There is talk that some sectors of the nation’s youth are practicing members of satanic cults. Does this concern you? 81% said very much, 12% said a little and 6% said they are not concerned.

Fund-raiser for AA587 families
Governor of New York George Pataki announced a telethon will be held on October 19 to raise funds for the relatives of the victims AA587 airplane crash on November 12, 2001. Most passengers on that flight were of Dominican origin. 
Pataki made the announcement while accompanied by Dominican baseball players, Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs and Pedro Astacio of the New York Mets. 
The telethon will begin at 4 pm at the Hostos Community College and will include the participation of merengue bandleaders Tulile and Yoskar Sarante.
Members of the newly formed Committee in Memory of Flight 587, a group of victims' relatives, are also lobbying so that the unidentified remains be buried in several mausoleums in a cemetery in Washington Heights.

Truck and bus drivers die in crash
Two people are dead and 15 were injured following a collision between a Caribe Tours bus and a Mack truck at the Maimon-Imbert stretch of highway along the Puerto Plata-Santo Domingo route. News reports attribute the crash to the recklessness of the truck driver, who made a fatal attempt to overtake another vehicle to then collide into the bus. 32-year old bus driver Angel Dario Cuello, and 26-year old trucker, Willy Almonte, were both pronounced dead. The passengers were headed from Sosua to Santo Domingo. 
Listin Diario says that the injured are Mirelis Ramirez, Nelson Capellan, Robin Rosario, Jose Valentin Peña, Joel Santiago Quezada, Fernando Marrero, Licayda Patricia Reyes, Fernando Antonio Mejia, Jose Agustin Garcia, Ricardo Burgos, Jacqueline Marte, Claudia Elizabeth Vargas, Jose Antonio Gonzalez, Massiel Alvarez and Franklyn Brea. They were taken to clinics in Puerto Plata.

The Llenas Aybar case reopened
Known as one of the country’s best criminal lawyers, Artagnan Perez Mendez is the defense lawyer for Mario Redondo Llenas, who had just turned 18 years old when he accepted full responsibility for the stabbing of his 12-year old cousin on May 3, 1996. The case became a nationwide scandal because these were not poor people, but rather persons of the upper echelons of Dominican society. 
Throughout the trial, Perez Mendez maintained that justice was not being served because too many potentially incriminating questions were left unanswered as to the involvement of others in the crime that shocked the country. 
Perez appealed the case, charging that his defendant had not received a fair trial. Today, with emotions over the events having died down, the case is to be heard by judges Olga Herrera Carbuccia, Ignacio Pascual Camacho and Nestor Diaz at the Santo Domingo Appeals Court. 
Yesterday, Mario Redondo Llenas said that the head of Police at the time, General Antonio Imbert Tesson, had him tied to a toilet in use at the Police headquarters. He said that the former head of the Police wanted to beat him with a baseball bat, but that the late General Mario Peguero Hermida did not allow this to take place. The point was made that it was General Mario Peguero Hermida who eventually delivered the body to the Forensic Institute for the autopsy. 
The then head of the Department of Homicide of the Police, General Rafael Oscar Bencosme Candelier, explained that it was unusual to have the body taken first to the Armed Forces Central Hospital, instead of to the Forensic Pathology Institute. Police officer Fausis Zabala confirmed that when he arrived at the scene of the crime with the architect to prepare the drawing of the site, the body had already been sent to the military hospital. 
The defense lawyer said that while at the medical center, important evidence, namely the clothing of the child, disappeared. He said this would have served as evidence to the number of stabbings the child actually received. Artagnan Perez said he would prove that the child’s injuries were not caused by the same knife, implying that other persons were involved. 
In yesterday’s hearing, evidence was also brought forward that the 12-year old boy had been raped. 
General Rafael Bencosme Candelier said in court that Mario Redondo had plans to ask for a RD$10-million ransom for the sixth-grader. 
During the original trial in 1998, Mario José Redondo Llenas accused Luis Angel Palmas, the husband of the former Argentinean ambassador, Teresa Meccia, of planning the kidnapping and ordering the execution of the 12-year old boy. Records show that his son, Martin Palmas Meccia coincidentally left the Dominican Republic the day after the crime was committed. 

Priscila accuses Florian
Priscila Diaz Infante, who is being held responsible for the murder of Victor Augusto Feliz Mendez along with four police officers, told the Police that Rolando Florian Feliz was the mastermind behind the kidnapping and subsequent murder, as reported in Diario Libre. 
The newspaper says that her statements to the Police coincide with the Police account of the murder of the son of a former Barahona senator. The Police maintain that the settling of a drug debt was the motive for the crime. Florian Feliz is serving a 20-year sentence in Monte Plata jail for drug dealing. He has denied his involvement.

European jazz of the best kind
French cello virtuoso Vincent Courtois, clarinet player Louis Sclavis, and violinist Dominique Pifarely are in Santo Domingo for a one-night performance at Casa de Teatro scheduled for Friday September 20, 9pm. Tickets are being sold for RD$200.
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