Church Fears for Dominican Republic

Violence and Political and Economic Instability Cited

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, MAY 25, 2001 ( Violence and widespread distrust of politicians are rattling citizens in this Caribbean nation, its bishops warn.

In a report on the social and political situation of the Dominican Republic over the past three years, the nation´s bishops state that the privatization of public enterprises, including electric service, has exacerbated social problems, especially unemployment, reflected in the need to increase subsidies.

«The policy of privatization of state enterprises seems to have caused more problems than solutions: unemployment, need for subsidies, parallel services and an increase in taxes,» the report indicated. Bishop Antonio Camilo presented the report last week at the meeting of the Latin American bishops´ council (CELAM) in Bogota, Colombia.

«Violence, discrimination against women, prostitution, including of children, abuse of minors, and juvenile delinquency, in the form of bands in urban areas, are serious problems that affect society,» the bishops emphasized.

They have a good opinion of President Hipólito Mejía, however, whom they described as «a serious man, hardworking and honest. He comes from a Christian family, and was educated in a Catholic high school.»

Yet, the bishops pointed out that government policies have hurt the economy in this nation of 8.4 million people. Industrial, commercial and construction sales have dropped 30%, they noted.

«President Mejía´s administration is beginning to receive strong criticisms in industrial, commercial, political and popular sectors because of the deterioration of the economic situation, reflected in a decrease in consumption, drop in income, threat of fiscal deficit, and real danger of inflation,» the document stated.

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