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#4367: Haiti-RD news 23-6-00 (fwd)

From: Yacine Khelladi <yacine@aacr.net>

> ********************************************************************
> DR1 Daily News -- Friday, 23 June 2000
> ********************************************************************
> 2. Haiti Minister of Foreign Relations meets President Fernández
> 3. Patrol officers to be tried by military court
> 4. Minister-to-be favors building hospitals in Haiti

> 2. Haiti Minister of Foreign Relations meets President Fernández
> Haitian Minister of Foreign Relations Fritz Longchamps met with
> President Leonel Fernandez at the National Palace. He traveled to the
> DR to discuss the death of six Haitians who were hidden under a canvas
> as they clandestinely made their way to Santiago from Haiti. The
> incident has unfolded the complicity of the military in the smuggling
> of people and the extortion rackets that are part of daily life along
> the Dominican-Haitian frontier.
> Speaking to the press after the meeting with President Fernández,
> Longchamps said that the incident would not in any way affect the
> relations between Haiti and the DR.
> Relations between Haiti and DR have been at their best under the Rene
> Preval administration, with advances made by the bilateral Haiti-DR
> commission. The Dominican government has been a leading international
> spokesman seeking international support for improved instruction and
> job creation in Haiti, regardless of the ongoing Haitian internal
> political crisis.
> Also present at the meeting were Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo
> Latorre, Dominican ambassador in Haiti, Silvio Herasme Peña and charge
> d'affairs of the Haitian Embassy in the DR, Andres L. Dortonne.
> 3. Patrol officers to be tried by military court
> The high-ranking military commission in charge of investigating the
> death of six Haitians and one Dominican in a people-smuggling
> operation along the frontier released its report on Wednesday in a
> press conference. Five Haitians and one Dominican died of bullet
> wounds, while another Haitian died of contusions when the truck
> overturned following a chase with a frontier patrol.
> Thirty Haitians attempting to make it to the DR had been lying down on
> the loading platform of the truck hidden under a canvas. The dead
> Dominican assisted the driver.
> The military patrol had been inspecting all vehicles at a frontier
> checkpoint at 3 in the morning after receiving intelligence reports of
> a drug smuggling operation.
> The military patrol ordered the truck to stop to be checked, and the
> driver reacting stepping on the gas. The patrol chased the truck for
> 17 kilometers until it overturned after being shot at by the patrol.
> The military commission said that at the start of the chase the patrol
> had made several shots to the air, warning the truck driver to stop.
> The latter instead, reportedly just sped on, zigzagging to avoid his
> persecutors.
> The driver, Felix Antonio Núñez was found to be a well-known
> people-smuggler, and the same truck had been confiscated by the
> military three times before, being released by the judiciary. The
> owner of the truck, Ramón Aramis Estevez, who also had been prosecuted
> in the past, is on the run.
> Major General José Eliseo Noble Espejo, deputy chief of the Armed
> Forces, and head of the investigating commission, said that the patrol
> officers would be sent to a military war council to establish
> responsibilities in the death of seven and injuries caused to six
> others.
> He urged that the judicial system apply Law 344 that establishes
> severe penalties for those smuggling people. He said that if the law
> had been correctly applied, this incident would not have happened.
> He said that as phase two of the investigations, the military would
> continue to investigate the military that are said to be accepting
> bribes from people-smugglers at frontier checkpoints.
> 4. Minister-to-be favors building hospitals in Haiti
> Minister-to-be of Public Health, Dr. Jose Rodriguez Soldevilla said in
> an interview in the Listin Diario newspaper that he would try to
> obtain European Union funding for the construction of four hospitals
> on the Haitian side of the Dominican border. He said he would seek
> soft loans or donations from international organizations to build the
> hospitals.
> The 20-30 bed units would be built near the Dominican frontier cities
> of Pedernales, Jimaní, Elías Piña and Dajabón, to serve Haitians who
> today risk making the crossing to receive free assistance at Dominican
> public hospitals. He said the Ministry of Public Health would
> contribute the Dominican medical personnel to staff the hospitals.
> Nevertheless, he said that all patients, regardless of their
> nationality, that would cross over, would be attended at Dominican
> public hospitals.
> Rodríguez Soldevilla, who was Minister of Public Health during the
> President Antonio Guzmán government (1978-1982), also proposed to
> build a trauma hospital at Km. 28 of the Duarte Highway, in order to
> decongestion the Darío Contreras trauma center in Santo Domingo.
> He said the PRD government would come through with campaign promises
> of building hospitals in Los Alcarrizos, Villa Mella, Los Mameyes and
> finishing the Herrera Hospital.
> Furthermore, he spoke of expanding the Luis Eduardo Aybar hospital,
> and its burn center.
> Rodríguez Soldevilla also favors the creation of private and
> semi-private wards at public hospitals.