- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Illegal immigrants beset border areas

SANTO DOMINGO | Authorities plan to relocate soldiers and their families to border communities that are home to thousands of illegal Haitian immigrants and increasingly fewer Dominicans.

Dozens of families will move next year as part of a pilot program to reforest the area, repair run-down homes and teach locals how to read and write, Military Secretary Pedro Rafael Pena said Wednesday.

The first families will move to the southwestern province of Pedernales, where the government says Haitians have damaged the Bahoruco mountain range by chopping down trees to plant crops and build makeshift homes. Soldiers also will reclaim property that Haitians seized after local residents left, Mr. Pena said.

He did not know how much the relocation would cost, but said it would receive private-sector financing.

The Rev. Regino Martinez, a Dominican priest, disputed the government’s claim that the thousands of Haitian immigrants living along the 240-mile border are driving locals away.

“It’s not that the Haitians are invading - it’s that the Dominicans are moving elsewhere to seek a better life,” said Father Martinez, who oversees the border-monitoring section of Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Services.

MYANMAR

Opposition wants no preconditions

YANGON | Myanmar’s opposition party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, said Wednesday there should be no preconditions for the United States starting a dialogue with the ruling junta.

The U.S. announced Monday it was starting a dialogue with the military-ruled nation, although it insisted it would keep sanctions in place until the regime makes progress on democracy.

“Starting a dialogue between two countries is good. Daw Suu has said so,” said Nyan Win, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy. Daw is a term of respect in Myanmar.

“It will be the best if there are no preconditions in a dialogue,” he told Agence France-Presse.

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, would meet with a delegation headed by Myanmar’s science and technology minister U Thaung on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

CUBA

U.S. diplomat met Cuban dissidents

HAVANA | A senior U.S. diplomat who traveled to Havana for the highest-level talks with Cuban officials in decades also met with opposition activists to discuss their political views, three dissidents told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Bisa Williams, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, met with 15 prominent dissidents during a Sept. 21 lunch at the U.S. Interests Section, the United States’ diplomatic mission in Cuba, said Elizardo Sanchez, Martha Beatriz Roque and Vladimiro Roca. All have spent time in jail for their political views.

Ms. Williams asked the dissidents about U.S.-Cuba relations, and pressed for details of their lives in a country with one political party and a history of intolerance toward dissent, they said.

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