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04SANTODOMINGO1816 2004-03-19 18:47:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Santo Domingo
Cable title:  

MEETING WITH GODR OFFICIALS ON STATUS OF NEW

Tags:   CMGT CPAS CVIS CASC KFRD DR 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SANTO DOMINGO 001816 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR CA MAURA HARTY, CA/PPT ANN BARRETT, CA/PPT/PAS
JOHN HOTCHNER AND MARCO TEDESCO, CA/FPP FRANK TURLEY,
G/TIP, INL, WHA/CAR

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: CMGT CPAS CVIS CASC KFRD DR
SUBJECT: MEETING WITH GODR OFFICIALS ON STATUS OF NEW
DOMINICAN PASSPORT AND NEW PASSPORT ANTI-FRAUD UNIT

REF: SANTO DOMINGO 006970

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY



1. (U) SUMMARY: GODR is still on track to produce ICAO
compliant passport in April. GODR Passport Office has
established new Anti-Fraud Unit. END SUMMARY.



2. (U) On March 9, 2004 Consul General and FPM met
with Director of GODR Passport Office, Mr. Elias Wessin
Chavez. Purpose of the meeting was to find out the
status of a proposed ICAO compliant Dominican passport.
Reftel stated that new Dominican passport was expected
to be ready by April, 2004.



3. (U) Chavez is holding to the original deadline of
April, at which time he said that at least the Central
Passport Office in Santo Domingo would be producing the
new Dominican passport. On the day of our meeting,
Chavez reported that there were some problems in
Dominican Customs with release of the passport printing
hardware shipped from Germany. Once it is released, he
said, it will be installed in all twelve passport
agencies, which are already networked. Passport
authorization, however, will only be done by the
Central Passport Office in Santo Domingo. The only
serious infrastructure problem Chavez envisions is the
lack of dependability of electricity. He has planned
on buying generators for each office.



4. (U) Chavez mentioned that this first year is
considered a transition phase after which the new
operation will be replicated for official and
diplomatic passports, and Dominican visas
responsibility for which comes under the Office of
Consular Affairs, headed by Ambassador Dulce Rosario de
la Maza.



5. (U) Chavez emphasized that not only will the GODR be
producing a new ICAO compliant passport, it will be
implementing a new approach to the passport
application, adjudication, and issuance process. He
said that he did not want the passport office to be
seen as a "passport factory" where you can get a
passport as long as you have paid your money. Instead,
he said that the process will be under more control and
that applicants will have to prove their eligibility
for a passport. He is, therefore, implementing the
following anti-fraud measures:
(1) Payment for passports will be through the Banco de
Reservas and applicants will bring their payment
receipts to the passport office. This is to separate
the handling of cash from the actual passport
adjudication and issuance process. (2) Burning all the
blank old Dominican passport books that will become
obsolete with the issuance of the new passport.

Most important, however, was Chavez's announcement the
week previous to our meeting that he had established a
Passport Office Anti-Fraud Unit with fraud prevention
as its mission. This unit is staffed by both lawyers
and police officers. The latter bring technical
expertise in fraud practices. Chavez stated that they
have already submitted thirty-five cases of fraud to
the justice system. The FPM and FPU staff had been
invited the week before to attend an anti-fraud
training workshop sponsored on four consecutive
Saturdays for GODR Passport Office employees country-
wide. FPM and staff attended the inauguration of the
workshop on March 6. There were more than 100
participants from the entire country and they displayed
a high degree of interest and enthusiasm for the
concept of "fraud prevention".

During our meeting, Chavez requested training from the
Consulate to which we agreed. He also hinted at a
request for forensic lab equipment to which we did not
commit. He promised to give us samples of the new
Dominican passport as soon as they are ready.



6. (U) Dominican presidential elections are to take
place on May 16, 2004. When we asked Chavez what would
happen to his efforts after that date, he responded
that no matter who followed him, he believed that this
new passport system would survive since it would be
something that could really not be dismantled easily.
He also mentioned that he had been invited to the ICAO
Conference on May 17, 2004 but because of the elections
was unsure whether he would attend.



7. (U) Embassy will continue to follow the progress of
the new Dominican passport and report as developments
occur.

HERTELL