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Daily News - 03 February 1998

Burri and leading banks seek to capitalize CDE
Five financial groups, head by Ernest Burri, former president of the Compañía Dominicana de Teléfonos (Codetel), the largest telecommunications company in the country, have formed a consortium to capitalize and privatize the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad (CDE), the state electricity utility. The Consorcio Ecoenergético Dominicana is made up by the Grupo Financiero Popular, Intercontinental, Gerencial y Fiduciario, Financiero BHD and Banco del Progreso and will be participating in the tender for the distribution and generation of power. Present at the press conference where the announcement was made were board members of the new company, Antonio Hache, vice president; Alejandro Grullon, second vice president; Ramon Baez Romana, secretary; Enrique Armenteros, vice secretary; Jose Antonio Caro G., Roberto Bonetti, Manuel A. Grullon, Juan Jose Arteaga and Javier Armenteros Marquez.
Burri understands that the Dominican economy will only achieve its optimum development if the nation has a reliable service of energy. He said they support Antonio Isa Conde, president of the Comittee for the Reform of State Enterprises and international advisors of Salomon Smith & Barney
Burri presided over Codetel for several years until choosing to retire in the Dominican Republic from GTE.

Teenage AIDS victims increase
Education campaigns and a general awareness has resulted in a decline in the incidence of the Acquired Immunological Disease Syndrome among homosexuals and prostitutes, but now the Dominican Republic health and education sectors face a greater challenge. Health statistics show that the incidence of AIDS is increasing among school age Dominicans, particularly among the ages of 12-14.
The director of the National Program of Control of AIDS and Sexual Transmission Diseases (PROCETS) said that Dominicans are having their first sexual relationship as early as nine years old. Luis Martínez said that his office is working with the Ministry of Education to start sex education programs in schools. The Ministry of Education, in turn, has requested the assistance of the Ministry of Public Health to start a major campaign to educate youngsters as to the real possibility of their being infected by a disease that affects the immune system.
The World Health Organization has pointed out the increase of AIDS worldwide in children under 15 years age and in teenage pregnancies.

National Dialogue or political campaigning?
Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, leader of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), and candidate for mayor of Santo Domingo for his party, said that President Fernández is campaigning for a victory of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana when he travels all around the country promoting the "National Dialogue." The National Dialogue was formed by the government as a public forum that would gather civic and social groups, entrusted with coming up with a consensus as to where the country should be headed in the next few years. The President has said that if the plans have the endorsement of the population, they would have continuity beyond his administration. He has been traveling throughout the country to listen to Dominicans from all walks of life. The reunions have been criticized as people use the forums to address their own personal needs and not national needs.
The President's travels have also resulted in his addressing the nation on different topics. Yesterday, in his meeting with civic and political groups of La Romana, President Leonel Fernández said that the Dominican people have the right to protest in a civilized manner, but that "nobody has the right to violate the laws and constitution of this country." He also said, "We are living in the midst of disorder; with no respect nor discipline but with the participation of the Dominican people we are going to establish that order, so that discipline and the work ethic can prevail."
President Leonel Fernández is the most popular politician in the country, according to a Gallup Poll, but the Constitution does not allow him to run for President in the next presidential election scheduled for year 2000.

PRSC primaries slow
The Listín Diario reported that sectors of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano are waiting for former President Joaquín Balaguer, leader of the party, to intervene and resolve conflicts generated by the primaries held throughout the country. The front page item also indicates that the Santo Domingo primaries, scheduled for 8 February, could be postponed to 15 February. The party has up to 17 March to announce its candidates for the municipal and congressional elections scheduled for16 May.

Boom in textile exports
According to the National Free Zones Council, the Dominican Republic is the seventh largest exporter of textiles to the United States. In 1997, the country exported more than US$2,000 million in textiles. The 27% growth in textile exports from the Dominican Republic was only surpassed worldwide by the 28.33% growth of China and Mexico's 40.89%. Textile exports were up 11.75% in Korea; 20.76% in Canada 20.76%; 5.05% in Taiwan; and 0.58% in Hong Kong. Textile exports generated foreign exchange for US$700 million, up 21%. The National Free Zones Council says that the free zone textile industries accounted for 145,000 jobs in 1997. Some 77 new apparel companies were installed in 1997.

Investment in tourism advertising to double
Felix Jiménez, Minister of Tourism, announced that his department has plans to invest from US$12 to US$14 million in advertising and promotion abroad in 1998. He made the announcement during a press conference held in Madrid, Spain during Fitur, the annual Spanish travel industry fair. The investment in promotion would almost double the US$7 million spent in 1997. The government has allotted 50% of the revenues produced by the sale of tourist cards and 50% of the taxes paid by charters for the promotion of tourism. Minister Jiménez said that Europe continues to be the main source of tourists to the Dominican Republic. Tourism from Spain was up 12% last year, Italian tourism was up 9% Italian, British and French tourism were up 100%, and 35% more tourists came from Holland and Begium. The main single country source of foreign tourists to the Dominican Republic was Germany, with 340,000 travellers, followed by some 250,000 travellers from Great Britain. Minister Jiménez says that statistics show 2.2 million visitors came in 1997. He said his department is working to attract 2.5 million visitors in 1998.

Tourism now in charge of Southwest
The Executive Branch gave the Ministry of Tourism the responsibility for the supervision and control of the tourism pole of the Southwest, which includes the provinces of Barahona, Pedernales and Independencia. Decree 30-98 relieves the Central Bank of this responsibility. The Ministry of Tourism is endorsing a major development project for the area of Pedernales.

Oscar de la Renta collection to be shown here
Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta will present his spring-summer collection designed for the Pierre Balmain fashion house of Paris. The benefit show will take place 19 February at 8 pm at the Hotel Jaragua. The funds will help the Hogar del Niño orphanage that Oscar de la Renta has supported for years in La Romana. This is the same collection that was presented on 21 January at the Grand Hotel in Paris. It is inspired on the refined elegance of 18th century fashion.

Government and Smith Enron discrepancies
Hoy newspaper reported that Smith & Enron Cogeneration has rejected that the government, in an interpretation of the contract, discount energy not served from its bills due to the company. Hoy published that the executive director of Smith & Enron, Luis H. Luzuriaga, on 5 August 1997, asked that the administrator of the CDE, engineer Temistocles Montas, intervene in their favor to stop the discounting. The CDE and Smith & Enron have differences as to what is owed. The Smith & Enron power plant that was installed in Puerto Plata, causing damage to the environment and even forcing the closing of the Bayside Hotel, has an installed capacity of 185 megawatts. The power plant has not been able to maintain a steady generation of energy at capacity since installation. The onerous contract signed by executives of the former Balaguer administration established that the company could bill for installed capacity and not energy supplied.
Hoy reported that the CDE pays Smith & Enron 2.1116 cents of the dollar per kilowatt/hour per installed capacity and 0.8802 cents, fixed payments, per kilowatt/hour served.
The dispute is in International Court of Arbitrage of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Justice releases protesting union leaders
The government freed, upon payment of a RD$5,000 bond, union leaders Juan Hubieres and Fernando Peña and 21 chauffeurs of public transport vehicles. The group was arrested for impeding transport on the 27 de Febrero Avenue at the start of the operation of the exclusive bus lane that crosses the city from east to west. The government transport organization, AMET, has ruled that the new bus lanes are off limits to buses operated by the unions.

Tricom executive denies bribing congressmen
Adriano Miguel Tejada, vice president of communications at Tricom, following a visit to the Attorney General's office, denied that the company had paid bribes to congressmen for the passing of the telecommunications bill. Tejada said that the U.S. company, Motorola owns 40% of Tricom, and thus the company must comply with U.S. laws prohibiting bribes. Luis Alvarez Renta, an advisor to the firm, was detained last Friday by the Secret Service Department of the Police on the grounds of illegal possession of weapons, after a 357 Magnum gun was found in a search at his office.

Aguilas vie for Caribbean Championship title
Tony Peña, manager of the Aguilas Cibaeñas, winners of the Dominican Winter Baseball League, said that strong pitching staff will be the key element to the winning of the Caribbean Series. The Dominicans will vie for the championship from 4-10 February in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Pitching staff was reinforced with players from other Dominican teams. The Aguilas have won the Dominican league pennant 14 times, but the team has won the Caribbean title only once, last year.
The game schedule that begins on Wednesday in Venezuela is as follows:

Wednesday, 4 February, Puerto Rico-D.R.

Thursday, 5 February, Mexico-Venezuela

Friday, 6 February, Puerto Rico-Mexico; D.R.-Venezuela

Saturday, 7 February, D.R.-Mexico; Venezuela-Puerto Rico

Sunday, 8 February, D.R.-Puerto Rico, Venezuela-Mexico

Monday, 9 February, Mexico-Puerto Rico, Venezuela-D.R.

Tuesday, 10 February, Mexico-D.R., Puerto Rico-Venezuela

Playing for the D.R. will be:

Alberto Castillo, Melvin Rosario, Guillermo Garcia, Miguel Tejada, Alex Arias, Fernando Tatis, Nelfi Perez, Felix Fermín, Tony Batista, Luis Polonia, Micah Franklin, Patricio Claudio, José Guillén, Héctor Ramírez, Benito Báez, Todd Rizzo, Máximo de la Rosa, Julián Tavares, Carlos Pérez, José Cabrera, Efraín Valdes, Jesús Sánchez, Arturo Peña, José García, Fernando Hernández.

Vargas Llosa moves to Germany
Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa has moved to Berlin to continue research for his novel on the last months of Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, assassinated in 1961. He ruled this country from 1930 to 1961. Vargas Llosa chose Trujillo for the novel because he feels this is a "unique case in Latin America." Vargas Llosa says he is fascinated by the totalitarian regime that had an almost absolute control of the lives, psyche and subsconscious of the Dominican population.

Union workers get RD$8 million in settlement
The government paid out an additional RD$4 million to 41 union members of the former Sitracode syndicate of the CDE. This is in addition to severance payments of more than RD$4 million that were paid to workers in December. The CDE union was disbanded during the Ramon Perez Martinez administration of the CDE.

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