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Daily News - 15 January 1998

Will gasoline prices drop?
Radhamés Segura, president of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery, says that the government is evaluating the decline in the price of fuel on international markets to determine whether domestic reductions for fuel here are in order. News reports indicate that petroleum prices are at a 45-month all time low in the London market. In the past three months, prices have dropped 30%. Last week, the average OPEC price was US$14.83 per barrel, compared to the average price in 1997 of US$18.68, and the 1996 average of US$20.29. Pedro Pablo Cabral, president of Shell in the D.R., has advocated for a decline in the price of unleaded fuel in order to stimulate an increase in consumption of unleaded versus leaded gasoline.

Jayson dies after month-long struggle
José Fermín (Jayson) González, the Los Ilegales modern Dominican music group performer, died yesterday 33 days after a paralyzing car crash on December 13 on the Duarte Bridge. He died from a general infection caused by complications resulting from his spinal cord lesion at 6:50 pm at the Hospital Central de las Fuerzas Armadas, the military hospital, where he had been taken after 27 days at the Universidad Central del Este private hospital. Funeral services are presently being held at the Funeraria Blandino of Av. Abraham Lincoln. The six footer was one of the founding members of Los Ilegales, that may be awarded the show business writers award for best musical group this year. Jayson González would have been 21 in February.

Sugar quota threatened
The Dominican Republic would be one of the most affected countries if Mexico is authorized to sell within the preferential sugar market of the United States. Mexican sugar exporters aspire to a 250,000 metric ton raw sugar quota. The Dominican Republic has the largest quota within the U.S. preferential market, exporting 357,060 metric tons to the U.S. in 1997.

Aviation agreements advance with Central American nations
The Listín Diario cites excerpts from official documents whereby the D.R. has reached agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica for an open skies aviation treaty. The El Salvador airline, TACA, aspires to travel to the D.R. from Central America and also to pick up passengers here traveling to the United States. This has met with opposition of local airline and tourism sectors. Negotiations have been going on since 7 January and will continue through this week with Central American countries. Reportedly, the chief of the Dominican delegation, Vitelio Mejía Ortiz, and Hector Dada Sánchez of El Salvador, reached a consensus on articles 1-19 of the open skies agreement, only leaving for future discussion the determination of which routes would be authorized. The Association of Hotels, the Association of Dominican Pilots, the state airline (Dominicana de Aviación), and start-up private Dominican airlines have openly opposed the agreement on grounds that the nation should wait until national airlines are again authorized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency to fly to the States. The spirit of the agreement is that it would make it attractive for new airlines to travel to the Dominican Republic, bringing competition to Dominican skies. At present American Airlines dominates Dominican air routes.

Maríñez hopes for democracy in the PRD in the future
Julio Maríñez, president of the Dominican Municipal League, and who hoped to win the Partido Revolucionario Dominican nomination for mayor of Santo Domingo in the May 1998 municipal elections, said yesterday that the self-proclamation of Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez as candidate for mayor Santo Domingo has done away with that party's internal democracy. Peña Gómez used his extraordinary powers to come up with a solution after not accepting the slim margin with which Maríñez had won the primary, held to choose the party's candidate for mayor of Santo Domingo. Peña self-proclaimed himself and then chose merengue maestro and former congressman Johnny Ventura as the candidate for vice mayor. The position of vice mayor for the PRD is especially important, given Peña Gómez's frail health. "Peña Gómez imposed the candidate to vice mayor and I am accepting because I am not going to confront the leader," said Maríñez. "I will accept, but I hope that in the future the popular vote is respected without the need for the use of special powers," he said. He also said that in the future he hoped the statutes of the party would be respected.

RD$30 million to prevent AIDS
The Dominican government signed an agreement with the European Union and the Escuela Andaluza Española de Salud Pública of Spain to implement a RD$30 million program to prevent AIDS in the country. The program will be financed with European Union funds under the Lome Convention program. Dr. Max Puig signed for the Dominican government. The program will begin with pilot programs in the southwest, which along with the frontier area with Haiti is the most impoverished area of the country. AIDS is a prime concern in the country. There are estimates that if preventive measures are not taken by year 2000 some 300,000 persons will be affected.

AA announces air fares sale
American Airlines announced a seasonal sale on fares to and from the Dominican Republic. Fares apply for tickets purchased on or before 22 January for travel on Tuesday to Thursday up to 30 April 1998. Fare reductions are not valid for several peak holiday travel days. For example, the sale brings down American Airlines fares (taxes not included) on the New York City route to RD$4,203; RD$3,183 for the trip to Miami; RD$4,094 to Orlando, and RD$6,188 to Dallas. For more information, call 542-5151 or consult the American Airlines web site at www.americanair.com

Update on transport improvement program
The Metropolitan Transport Authority of Santo Domingo (AMET) is promising that some 300 new 40-passenger buses will be in transit in city streets by summer, providing significant relief to the transport chaos presently affecting the city. Engineer Hamlet Hermann said that while the first corridor will be that of the 27 de Febrero, where the buses will begin their operation on 26 January, others will follow shortly. He said the bus units running on exclusive lanes on the Avenida John F. Kennedy (from Almirante, San Vicente de Paul, Padre Castellanos, Expreso Quinto Centenario through Los Alcarrizos) should get started by the end of February. The first south-north corridor will be that of the Avenida Máximo Gómez, that will go from the Malecón to Villa Mella, and will be in effect by March. He said that his department is contemplating establishing an exclusive bus lane that would cross the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, the state university, through Av. Alma Mater.

Licey still invincible
The Licey Tigers defeated the Aguilas Cibaeñas for their seventh consecutive win in their quest for the title of champion of the Dominican Winter Baseball League. The Escogido team opposes Licey in Santo Domingo tonight, and the Aguilas will match the Estrellas in San Pedro de Macorís's Tetelo Vargas stadium. The Tigres del Licey lead the league with 9 wins and 2 losses, followed by the Aguilas Cibaeñas and Leones del Escogido, which are four games behind. The Estrellas Orientales are practically eliminated with a 3 win and 8 loss record.

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