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8356: april/june news on domicana haitian relation compiled from DR1 (fwd)

From: Yacine Khelladi <yacine@yacine.net>

> DR1 Daily News -- Tuesday, 12 June 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 1. Green Lightning Operation
> The Army has destroyed 264 charcoal ovens near the border city of
> Jimani. This is part of the Green Lightning Operation of the Ministry
> of Armed Forces and the Ministry of Environment. Jimani had become a
> charcoal producing center for  domestic consumption, but primarily for
> export to Haiti. The Minister of Environment Frank Moya Pons warned
> that the depredation of Dominican forests to produce charcoal would
> affect the food and water supply. In April of this year, 157 ovens were
> destroyed. The government recently authorized the sale of propane gas
> to Haiti at domestic market prices which are lower than those in effect
> in Haiti.
> 9. Cuban vs. Haitian political asylum
> Seven Cubans who entered the DR through Haiti are seeking political
> asylum. They say they will be killed if they return to Cuba. The
> Department of Migration is investigating the case, but says the final
> say is up to President Mejia. The Cubans arrived after their boat went
> adrift near Bahamas. They made it to Haiti and then crossed the border
> into the DR.
> Since the Fernandez government renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba
> in 1997, the Dominican government has deported all Cubans who enter
> this country illegally.
> Meanwhile, 50 Haitians have also requested political asylum. Their case
> is being studied by the National Commission for Refugees. Some months
> ago a group of Haitian former policemen sought asylum, and the
> situation was resolved when Panama agreed to admit them. But the
> Director of Migration says the case of the 50 Haitians is very delicate
> because if they are granted asylum, there could be an avalanche of
> Haitian migrants alleging political persecution.

> ********************************************************************
> DR1 Daily News -- Monday, 11 June 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 3. More Dominican trade and investments for Haiti
> An official mission from Haiti, headed by Haiti's Industry and Commerce
> Minister Stanley Theard, wants to start talks on a free trade agreement
> between both countries. Minister Theard, in a press conference after
> meeting with President Mejia, invited Dominican businessmen to look
> into the Haitian market. He urged them to seriously consider investment
> projects in Haiti, either setting up their own operations or carrying
> out a joint venture with Haitian businessmen. Dominican businessmen are
> open to setting up industries in Haiti or along the border with Haiti
> to take advantage of the wide open quotas for apparel production in
> Haiti.
> To strengthen the customs system, Minister Theard announced that
> Haitian and Dominican customs departments will work closely to reduce
> red tape and other obstacles that encouraged illegal trade.
> Theard visited the DR with a mission of Haitian government officers and
> businessmen.
> 4. DR to sell propane gas to Haiti
> The Dominican government has agreed to supply Haiti with propane gas in
> order to reduce the demand for charcoal in the neighboring country.
> Minister of Industry and Commerce Angel Lockward said the DR will
> supply 500,000 gallons of propane to Haiti. To supply Haiti, Dominican
> based companies need to increase their imports. The fuel will be sold
> at market cost. Lockward made the statement during a visit to the
> Listin Diario newspaper for an interview, together with Haiti's
> Minister of Industry and Commerce, Stanley Theard. He said the
> government has authorized Dominican companies to sell Haiti all the
> propane gas it requires. Propane purchased here is cheaper than that
> being sold in Haiti today.

> DR1 Daily News -- Friday, 8 June 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 3. Preserving forests is a matter of national security
> Frank Moya Pons, Minister of Environment, defended the military's
> participation in Operation Green Lightning which will seek to reduce
> the depredation of Dominican forests. Local forests are being burned to
> make charcoal for local use and export to Haiti.
> Moya Pons said the indiscriminate cutting of trees is a national
> security concern. He said the destruction of forests at river sources
> is a threat to food and water production. He specifically spoke of the
> social problems that could result from any threat to Santo Domingo's
> drinking water supply from the Nizao and Los Haitises rivers.

> DR1 Daily News -- Wednesday, 6 June 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 9. Operation to reduce charcoal trade at Haitian border
> The Minister of the Armed Forces, Jose Miguel Soto Jimenez,
> has announced operation “Green Lightning” to reduce the cutting
> of Dominican forests along the frontier with Haiti. In response to
> an investigative report published yesterday in El Siglo
> newspaper, he said the operation would be carried out in
> coordination with the Environment Ministry. The newspaper
> claimed the charcoal trade was apparently being carried out with
> the compliance of the Dominican military and government
> officials.
> Deputy Minister of Environment Franklin Reynoso said this is an
> old problem. He said that in the ‘80s the wealthy of Haiti would
> purchase the precious wood “Guayacan” for their barbecues. He
> said that while the indiscriminate destruction of Dominican
> forests is outlawed, Law 64-00 allows the export of charcoal
> produced in authorized wood-producing businesses.

> DR1 Daily News -- Tuesday, 5 June 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 7. Exporting charcoal to Haiti
> El Siglo newspaper today denounces Haitian merchants for
> exporting charcoal produced in the DR to Haiti. It is illegal to cut
> trees to produce charcoal in the DR. The charcoal is transported
> in trucks and sailboats from the border zones where it is
> processed. A bag of charcoal sells for 160 pesos in Port au
> Prince, says the newspaper. Reportedly, the charcoal is
> purchased by Haitian merchants in the Tierra Nueva and Boca
> de Cachón areas of Independencia province.
> Haitian forests have been destroyed by the same practices and
> has led to the need to import charcoal. This practice could
> deplete Dominican forests like those in Haiti.
> Haitian merchants told El Siglo reporters that some of the
> charcoal is manufactured in Canoga, a small Haitian village
> located near the border town of Jimaní.
> Minister of Environment Frank Moya Pons has on two occasions
> publicly denounced the tree cutting in the mountains along the
> border (Pedernales, Enriquillo Lake area and Independencia
> province). He said this is being carried out in complicity with
> Dominican military and government officials in the area.
> Apparently the transactions take place in the open, while
> government authorities and military look the other way or
> participate in the business.
> El Siglo claims that the first major charcoal warehouse is in
> Tierra de Nadie (no man’s land strip which is neither Haitian nor
> Dominican territory), only 150 meters from the Dominican border
> crossing at Jimani. For more information, see
> http://www.elsiglord.com (5 June 2001 front page edition).

> ********************************************************************
> DR1 Daily News -- Monday, 28 May 2001
> 2. President Mejia speaks up for Haiti in Summit
> President Hipolito Mejia advocated regional solidarity with Haiti,
> the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. He spoke at the
> Central American Summit involving heads of government from
> Taiwan, Central America and Dominican Republic held in El
> Salvador last Friday. He used his turn to speak in favor of the
> region taking concrete actions to bring development to Haiti. The
> DR wants the US Congress to permit the creation of the
> Hispaniola Fund which would convert the Dominican debt with
> the US into a development fund for projects in Haiti and along
> the Dominican border. President Francisco Flores of El Salvador
> said, “The same way we have achieved other opportunities when
> we have united as one voice, we believe that we can achieve this
> in regards to Haiti.”

> DR1 Daily News --Monday, 14 May 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 10. There was no burning of the flag
> A La Romana court determined it was not true that on 14 April a
> Dominican flag was burned by a group of Haitians during a "gagá"
> religious ceremony. Olaya Dotel, a contributor to Hoy newspaper
> explains that the court determined that all resulted from the
> imagination of the xenophobia of journalist Julio Perello who was
> apparently bothered that the Haitians would wave the Dominican flag as
> part of their rite. The attorney general of La Romana, Dr. Elpidio
> Peguero released 87 that were accused after investigations could not
> show up a single witness to the burning nor remnants of the supposedly
> burned flag. On the contrary, police agents who witnessed the ceremony
> declared to the contrary, saying that if this had occurred they would
> have immediately denounced it to their superiors.
> Dotel criticizes that Brigade General Dario de la Cruz Consuegra
> sought to take advantage of the situation, declaring that police
> agents had seen remnants of the burned flag, the same ones that never
> could be presented during the court investigation. Likewise, Minister
> of the Armed Forces Jose Miguel Soto Jimenez also seemingly sought to
> take advantage of the situation in a ceremony to honor the Dominican
> flag organized shortly after the incident where he was critical of the
> Haitians. Dotel says that both De la Cruz and Soto Jimenez should
> publicly recognize their premature judgements and apologize.

> DR1 Daily News -- Monday, 7 May 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 7. Minister of Environment denounces government officers
> Minister of Environment Frank Moya Pons has for the second time
> publicly accused government officers of complicity in the
> deforestation of Dominican forests. In Azua yesterday for a meeting
> with the Federacion de Productores de Bosque Seco del Sur, he claimed
> that government officers use Haitian labor so when they are caught in
> the act they can blame the foreigners.
> He said the people of Oviedo will soon have no water if the
> deforestation continues.
> Some weeks ago, Moya Pons made the accusation for the first time at a
> meeting with President Mejia.
> He blames government officers for much of the depredation in
> Pedernales, Azua and Los Haitises National Park. "The ecological
> resources of Pedernales, Azua and the East are being turned into
> charcoal, the authorities are involved and this Ministry has sent a
> report to the President who is aware of this situation," said Moya.

> DR1 Daily News -- Wednesday, 25 April 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 1. Green light on visas for Haiti
> President Hipolito Mejia is in favor of no limits to the number of
> visas Dominican consulates issue to Haitians. El Siglo recently said
> that Dominican consulates had issued more than 43,000 visas in the
> first trimester of the year, of which 7,000 persons had not returned.
> The newspaper highlighted that there was a limit on the number of
> visas, that was by far being surpassed by the consuls. Dominican
> consuls are charging US$50 and US$250 for the single entry and
> multiple entry year long visa, of which the consul can pocket a
> significant part.
> President Mejia does not see a problem in the numbers of visas issued
> to Haitians. "We are granting visas to everyone, everyone who wants to
> come with a visa will not have a problem, nor should there be a
> problem," he said when interviewed by the press when attending the
> First Dominican Congress of the Federation of Municipalities held at
> the National Theater.
> "I want a lot of people from Haiti to come using a visa. They are one
> of our best markets," said the President, referring to the fact that
> Haitians come and buy lots of Dominican products.

> ********************************************************************
> DR1 Daily News -- Tuesday, 24 April 2001
> ********************************************************************
> 2. President Mejia optimistic about helping Haiti
> Speaking at a press conference held in the company of President Lagos,
> President Mejia expressed his optimism that advances are being made to
> bring solutions to Haiti. He said that his request for solidarity from
> the international community met with support in Quebec. "We spoke and
> I served as an intermediary so that President Bush and Prime Minister
> Chretien could understand the reality and poverty of our brother,
> Haiti," he said. Referring to the DR’s promotion of the Hispaniola
> Investment Fund, he said true and concrete steps are being taken.
> President Mejia met for about two hours in Quebec with President Bush,
> Prime Minister Chretien and President Aristide of Haiti. "Aristide
> showed his satisfaction because things are moving and the reply and
> offer of President Bush (to send a mission to study how the money
> would be invested) is a clear indication and makes me feel optimistic
> that there will be short term alternatives and solutions to the
> Haitian reality," said President Mejia.
> 3. Debt conversion money for Haiti will depend on Haiti
> Today, in an editorial, El Caribe newspaper touches on realistic
> aspects of applying the Hispaniola Investment Fund proposals. The DR
> has proposed to use part of the fund for reforestation. Nevertheless,
> El Caribe says debt reduction for developing countries with tropical
> forests has only a US$30 million allotment in the US Budget. For more
> information on the law, see
> http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/casecode/uscodes/22/chapters/32/subchapt
> ers/iv/sections/section_2431.html
> It points out that President Bush would have to submit a new bill to
> the US Congress to increase this amount to have any impact in the
> region.
> Furthermore, the editorial writer points out that the debt conversion
> requires the underwriting of a bill to which neither President Bush or
> any congressperson has committed. The promoters of the Hispaniola
> Investment Fund did take advantage of the presence of Senator Hillary
> Clinton on vacation in the DR last week to urge the senator to take
> steps in this direction.
> Moreover, El Caribe points out that the political viability of the
> bill will depend on the international community agreeing that Haiti
> has a sufficiently democratic government. The newspaper points out
> that the bulk of foreign aid is on hold, and European and US
> governments would like to use this as a lever to promote a better
> political climate in Haiti.
> "Consequently, the possibility of the condoning of the debt of both
> countries will depend on progress towards democracy being made in
> Haiti. The ball is thus in the hands of the Haitian government and the
> Haitian opposition," explains El Caribe.

> 5. Haitian visas cost more
> A reader in Haiti wrote to DR1 Daily News to clarify that the
> Dominican consul in Port au Prince charges US$50 for a single entry
> and US$250 for a one-year multiple entry visa to Haiti. DR1 Daily News
> yesterday quoted El Siglo saying that the visas cost US$40 and US$200,
> respectively. Yesterday's report can be viewed at
> http://www.dr1.com/daily/news042301.shtml