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Daily News - 05 February 1998

Torrential rains kill one, flood city
A Civil Defense volunteer drowned yesterday while trying to save an old man and two children caught in a flood in the Manganagua slum area of Santo Domingo. Juan Dionicio Infante, 29, was president of the Civil Defense committee.
Heavy rains fell all morning yesterday in the Dominican Republic, flooding city streets in many areas where drainage is faulty, creating worse traffic jams. In the afternoon, the sun came out, but the Weather Department forecasts more rains for today and tomorrow due to the cold front affecting the area. The torrential rains also intensified power blackouts, from the usual eight hours to 14 hours.

Peña Gómez calls for moderation
Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, leader of the PRD, sent a letter to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Hector Rafael Peguero Méndez, of the PRD, requesting that the lower house of Congress accept the observations made by the President to the telecommunications bill passed by Congress. Peña Gómez said that the controversial clauses should be removed from the bill. Peguero Méndez had announced he was calling deputies back to work Tuesday to study the observations. This is illegal as the Constitution contemplates Congress to be in recess until 27 February. The president of the Chamber of Deputies has been confronting the Executive Branch.

Med school falls below requirements
Educational authorities say that an evaluation of the studies program at the Universidad Eugenio María de Hostos medical school, which primarily caters to foreigners, showed violations of minimum requirements, as reported by Hoy newspaper. Medical studies can be completed at the Unirehmos in 3.8 years, while the Dominican government requires a minimum of five years. Differences were found in the programs for those studying in Spanish and in English. The Spanish pensum requires 77 subjects and 357 credits, the English version requires 73 subjects and 347 credits. Pre-medical studies in Spanish require 90 credits, and in English 84, both under the required 100 credits. Pre-medical studies at Unirehmos have a duration of one year, while the government requires two years.

Central Bank injects more dollars to stabilize exchange market
The Central Bank will inject another US$40 million into the foreign exchange market. While the Central Bank quote is 14.02 to the dollar, street market value is RD$14.55 for the purchase of dollars, five to ten points more than last week. Commercial banks were offering RD$13.90 for the dollar, but were selling dollars at around RD$14.65.

Supreme Court seeks new judges
All members of the Supreme Court of Justice will travel to the southwestern province of Barahona to evaluate lawyers aspiring to be appointed judges. The Supreme Court members will be in Barahona from 21 to 23 February. The Supreme Court had travelled to Montecristi on 30 and 31 January for the same purpose. The press coverage of the Montecristi meetings revealed most of those aspiring to be judges are not qualified and that the search for knowledgeable, upright judges has been difficult. The Supreme Court has prepared a mail box where residents of Barahona, as those in Montecristi, can present their complaints against the conduct of the present judges.

Update on the telecommunications bill case
Angel Castillo, assistant to Attorney General Abel Rodriguez del Orbe, has requested the presence of the Senate's vice president, Virgilio Castillo. Angel Castillo is carrying out questioning into the case of the telecommunications bill which reportedly was modified after the congressional session. Another person investigated, business consultant Luis Alvarez Renta, was released on Tuesday, after being questioned over the weekend. Alvarez Renta had been retained in jail on grounds of illegal possession of guns.

New police force in Juan Dolio
The National Police has changed all members of its police force at the Juan Dolio tourist area, responding to complaints of businesses in the area that there had been an increase in robberies. Last month, the chief of the Police had ordered the changing of the police at Boca Chica, after similar complaints were made as to the inefficiency of the police to deal with crime.

Tax exempt salaries raised to RD$7,560
The Direccion General de Impuestos Internos informed that salaries up to RD$90,720 a year are now exempt from taxes. This is up from RD$84,000 for last year. This means monthly income of up to RD$7,560 does not pay income taxes. Those making from RD$90,720.01 to RD$151,200.00 will pay a 15% tax on the difference. Income from RD$151,200.01 to RD$226,800 pays RD$9,072 plus 20% of the surplus of RD$151,200. Income in excess of RD$226,800.01 pays RD$24,192 plus 25% of the difference.

Promoting colonial monuments
The Ministry of Tourism and the Cultural Heritage Office (OPC) agreed to promote the colonial monuments and permit their use for cultural activities. The funds generated will be applied to the conservation and restoration of colonial monuments. Minister Felix Jimenez of Tourism says that the agreements are trascendental for the history of tourism development. Minister Tourism and Juan Antonio Lopez, director of the Historic Monuments Commission; and Manuel del Monte Urraca, director of the OPC, signed the agreement that seeks to bring new life to the area.
Minister Felix Jiménez said, "We have to promote the country as more than sun and beaches because we have attractions that few countries have in the monuments that have been restored."
Colonial monuments that will be used are the Fortaleza Ozama, Torre del Homenaje, Ingenio de Engombe, Monasterio de San Francisco, Hospital San Nicolas de Bari, Torre San Felipe, Faro de Puerto Plata, Alcazar de Colon, Museo de las Casas Reales, Capilla Los Remedios, and Plaza Padre Billini.

Music festivals planned for 1998
Minister of Tourism Felix Jimenez announced the following festivals for this year: (1) Festival Presidente de la Musica in June, (2) Festival del Merengue in July, and (3) Festival de la Bachata. Dates to be announced. He also said that the Ministry is helping to organize a (4) Caribbean Music Festival, with the participation of groups from Costa, Rica, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and almost all of Central America.

Outstanding Haitian art exhibition
"Haiti, 50 Años de un Pueblo," is an exhibition of Haitian art now on exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art of Plaza de la Cultura in Santo Domingo. The exhibition presents works of 41 of some of the best Haitian painters of the past 50 years. The ministers of education and culture and tourism of Haiti came for the opening of the exhibition. Alberto Bass, director of the Museum of Modern Art, said that the exhibition is one of the most important held in the Dominican Republic. It is organized by French art critic Jean Marie Drot and the Fondation Afrique en Creations. It will be shown for two months.

Dominicans win first game in Caribbean Baseball Series
The Dominican team defeated Puerto Rico in a four-hour long game that began the Caribbean Baseball Series currently being played in Puerto de la Cruz, Venezuela. Los Indios de Mayaguez (Puerto Rico) and Aguilas Cibaeñas (Dominican Republic) battled for 14 innings yesterday, before the Dominicans came from behind to win. Patricio Claudio made the hit that gave the D.R. the victory, 7-6.

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