N.Y. Mayor-elect Bloomberg visits Dominican Republic
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) --New York Mayor-elect
Michael Bloomberg clasped hands with grieving Dominicans who lost relatives
in the crash of Flight 587, pledging help and solidarity with the homeland of
immigrants who hold increasing political clout.
Making his first international trip since winning the November 6 election,
met with about 20 relatives of victims who died aboard the American Airlines flight,
which crashed after takeoff in New York en route to the Dominican Republic.
"Our prayers are with you," Bloomberg told the relatives, some of them
handkerchiefs as they held back tears around a table in the presidential palace. "We
will do everything we can to find out what happened in this accident."
The November 12 crash killed all 260 people on board and five on the
ground in a
neighborhood near John F. Kennedy International Airport. Most of the victims were
Bloomberg also met privately with President Hipolito Mejia, and later
said they agreed
to cooperate in aiding victims' families and discussed the issues of Dominican
immigrants in New York.
There are an estimated 800,000 Dominicans living in the city, and nearly
of them are thought to hold U.S. citizenship, said Luis Eludis Perez, the Dominican
consul in New York.
Dominican politicians regularly deliver speeches and make campaign stops
predominantly Dominican neighborhoods in New York. But until recently, New York
politicians rarely did the same in the Dominican Republic.
In 1998, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani visited the Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico after Hurricane Georges plowed through the area, killing more than 250
people and damaging more than 100,000 homes.
This year, Giuliani was barred by the city's term limits law from seeking
consecutive term. In the November 6 mayoral race, half of Hispanic voters and a
quarter of black voters backed Bloomberg, the Republican Party candidate. The
billionaire businessman, who founded the media company Bloomberg LP, takes
office January 1.
The loss of Democrat Mark Green was blamed partly on wounds opened during
tough primary against Fernando Ferrer, a Bronx borough president of Puerto Rican
descent who was seeking to become the first Hispanic elected mayor.
On Monday, Bloomberg was accompanied by a group of New York Democrats
included U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel.
As Bloomberg met victims' relatives, one woman held mounted photos of
son, who died aboard the flight. Another woman told Bloomberg she lost her
daughter and 9-year-old grandson, and he embraced her.
The mayor-elect also met privately with Hans Hertell, the newly appointed
ambassador to the Dominican Republic, and accepted a key to the city of Santo
Domingo before departing for the neighboring U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, where
he was to meet Tuesday with Gov. Sila Calderon.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.