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Daily News - 09 January 1998

Peynado for mayor?
Jacinto Peynado may accept to run for mayor of Santo Domingo for the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC). Peynado would accept the post in order to counteract the decision of the PRD to go with their leader, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, as candidate for mayor in the May 1998 municipal election. Press sectors say that the decision of the PRD is forcing an alliance between the government party, Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, and the PRSC. Peynado has denied participating in talks to this end, although he told Hoy newspaper journalist Manuel Jiménez, that "I don't close doors." He said he does not favor another "slaughterhouse," of the party, referring to the past alliance between the PLD and PRSC responsible for the win of the PLD in the 1996 presidential election. He said that the party should not allow itself to be intimidated by the PLD.
Political analysts question whether it would be convenient for the former Vice President of the Republic to run for mayor, especially since he has said he will aspire for the presidency on the PRSC ticket in the year 2000. Peynado was the PRSC candidate in the 1996 presidential election. Nevertheless, then President Joaquín Balaguer endorsed the candidacy of Leonel Fernández of the PLD with a proclaimed alliance of the PRSC and the PLD.

PRD political crisis is far from over
Political analysts have been commenting that the self-proclamation of Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, leader of the PRD, as candidate for mayor of Santo Domingo, as a solution to the crisis in that opposition party, could become a greater problem than what it is hoping to resolve. Peña Gómez has admitted that because of his health condition (he suffers from cancer of the pancreas), he will not be able to fully exercise as mayor and if he wins the election he will have to delegate on the vice mayor. Thus the focus is now on who will be the candidate for that post.
On Thursday, 8 January, President Leonel Fernández converted into law, 23-98, the bill that institutes the position of vice mayor, eliminating a substitute for the post. As per the law, however, the vice mayor was given similar responsibilities as those assigned to the substitute. It was initially thought that the vice mayor would be assigned the responsibility for an area of the city. The new law merely states that the vice mayor will replace the mayor in his absence. Furthermore, the law establishes that the vice mayor's responsibilities will be those assigned by the mayor. The vice mayor will be elected in the same election as the mayor for a four year period. The post will be effective as of August 1998.

Police to stop buses from using shortcut
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) determined that it is illegal that minibuses detour from their route to take the Mahatma Gandhi short cut. Residents in the area recently corded off the street in protest for the passing of the minibuses. Since February of last year there have been 19 deaths at the intersection of Mahatma Gandhi and Juan Sánchez Ramírez streets. The AMET said it is coordinating with the National Police to stop the minibuses from taking that shortcut.

Tourism developments oppose new Esso terminal
The Executive Branch authorized the construction of a US$25 million fuel terminal in Puerto Plata. Environmentalists and the tourism businesses in Puerto Plata oppose the installation of an Esso Standard Oil terminal. An environmental impact study done by the U.S. firm GeoChemical Engineering Inc. showed that Costambar, Cofresí and Riu Merengue tourism developments could be affected as they would be within the area of influence of the terminal. The study also showed it could affect three municipal potable water wells, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Rio San Marco.

Police apply drastic measures to reduce crime
The Listin Diario reported an increase in the wave of violence that has been affecting the country following the deportation from the United States of skilled Dominicans criminals. Policemen apparently have received green light to to fire when confronted by bandits caught in attempted break-ins of businesses. The spokesman of the police, Simón Antonio Díaz has said that the Police is applying "mano dura", or taking drastic measures in order to stop an increase in crime in this country as a result of the return of Dominicans who may be trying to capitalize on their New York crime skills. Díaz warned the delinquents not to confront the Police when caught in a wrong-doing. Yesterday, four alleged bandits were killed in San Pedro de Macorís while attempting a break-in. The owner of the business was also killed in the crossfire. Moreover, in the northwestern town of Esperanza, the police reported killing an assailant who was armed with a Magnum caliber 357 gun. This assailant reportedly was the head of three bands that had looted businesses in Santiago and Santo Domingo.

New bus route to cross city
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) announced the East-West route for transport in the city of Santo Domingo. The new bus route begins in Los Tres Ojos and will continue on through Las Americas, Calle 17 of the Ensanche Ozama, Club Rotario, Duquela, Avenida España, Puente Mella, Avenida Mexico, Calle Juana Saltitopa, Calle Ravelo, Calle Doctor Betances, Calle Teniente Amado García, and on to the 27 de Febrero Avenue ending in Manoguayabo, on the west end of the city of Santo Domingo. The above-mentioned route includes several detours. The government has yet to build a bridge parallel to the Duarte Bridge and to complete remodeling works that would allow for the bus route to pass from Las Americas Highway (Los Tres Ojos) onto the Duarte Bridge and directly into the 27 de Febrero Avenue through to Manoguayabo.

A drop in the price of unleaded gasoline?
The president of the Dominican Refinery of Petroleum, engineer Rafael Segura, agrees with Pedro Pablo Cabral, president of Shell in the Dominican Republic, that the price difference between leaded and unleaded gasoline should serve to encourage an increased consumption of leaded gasoline and not discourage this. The government increased the tax on gasoline in 1996 in order to increase its collections, primarily used to pay the nation's foreign debt. Nevertheless, the higher level of tax levied on unleaded gasoline, and the pronounced spread between unleaded and leaded gasoline, led to a decrease in the number of users of unleaded gasoline, considered better for the environment. Pedro Pablo Cabral, of Shell, yesterday advocated a drop in the tax on unleaded gasoline in order to spur an increase in consumption of unleaded fuel versus leaded fuel. Engineer Segura said that a study would have to be carried out before a decision can be made.

Free zones to promote skilled labor businesses
Luis Manuel Pellerano, president of the Association of Dominican Free Zones, said local industry is accepting the challenge of seeking industries that require skilled labor. He said that the free zone industries hope to attract an increase in the number of firms in the emerging fields of telecommunications, electronics, jewelry, pharmaceutics and footwear industries, and more sophisticated apparel assembly operations. He said that Adozona will be working closely with the Dominican Republic Office for the Promotion of Foreign Investment (OPI) in 1998.

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