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Daily News - 09 February 1998

In favor and against devaluation of peso
A group of renown Dominican businessmen meeting with President Leonel Fernández on Friday recommended that the government devaluate the peso. The Central Bank has opposed the devaluation on grounds that it would increase the cost of living, affecting the majority of the population. Measures taken by the Central Bank to counteract the increase in money in circulation, in most part the result of overspending of the government itself, especially in December, have resulted in an increase in the lending rates of commercial bank loans, negatively affecting business. The businessmen met with the President last week. Also participating in the meeting were Cardinal Nicolas de Jesús López Rodríguez and Monsignor Agripino Núñez Collado.
Celso Marranzini, president of the Consejo Nacional de la Empresa Privada, the largest business organization, is opposed to the devaluation. Furthermore, in Santo Domingo to participate in a Latin American forum on modernization of state enterprises, the director general of the Inter American Development Bank, Enrique Iglesias, recommended that Dominican authorities continue applying fiscal and monetary measures in order to avoid having to devaluate. He said devaluation is an easy way out, but that now governments in Latin America are resorting to adjustments in interest rates, reductions in government spending, and other fiscal measures.

PRD could join National Dialogue
Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, leader of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, announced that he would propose to the board of that political party a series of conditions under which he would recommend that the organization participate in the National Dialogue. The PRD had until now said it would not participate in the talks that are being held to reach a consensus of priority areas for national development. The announcement was made after Peña Gómez met with Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, at his San Cristóbal residence. Gaviria was in Santo Domingo to participate in the the Latin American Forum on Government Reform and Modernization, held over the weekend. Press reports indicate that the conditions would be that the forum assign a priority to the combatting of corruption, and that the government increase efforts to reduce the housing deficit and unemployment, as well as define a clear strategy in regards to the social problems that affect Dominicans.

PLD secretary comments on possible PRD-PRSC alliance
Secretary general of the PLD, Lidio Cadet, criticized Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, saying the leader of the rival Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) was "incoherent." He referred to talks of an alliance between the PRD and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC). He recalled that the PRD leader had said when the PLD allied with the PRSC in order to win the 1996 presidential election, that that alliance was a "diabolic pact." The PLD has sought to repeat its alliance with the PRD. According to Cadet, former President Joaquin Balaguer will be the person to decide with what party the PRSC will ally for the municipal and congressional elections of May 16.

Reformista primary results to be announced Wednesday
The Listín Diario reported that 120,000 to 140,000 Reformistas (PRSC) participated in that party's primaries held on Sunday to elect the candidates to mayor and senator and deputies in Santo Domingo. Primary organizer Johnny Jones said irregularities in the process were detected and that the results would not be announced until Wednesday. Party spokesman Donald Reid Cabral said that former mayor Rafael Corporán de los Santos, a leading TV producer who was mayor in a previous Reformista administration, could run again for mayor on the PRSC ticket. If Corporán is chosen, then all three candidates to the position of mayor of Santo Domingo would come from show business. Note that although PRD party leader Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez has self-appointed himself as candidate to mayor, his health limitations may force him to delegate in his choice for vice mayor, merengue great Johnny Ventura. The PLD has chosen TV producer Roberto Salcedo as its candidate to the position of mayor of Santo Domingo.

Getting to the root of the child prostitution problem
The Ministry of Tourism and other government institutions are implementing a pilot program in Boca Chica, a tourist area half an hour's distance from Santo Domingo, in an effort to erradicate the prostitution of children by visitors. The program is known as "Strategy for the Prevention and Care of Children and Teenagers Victims of Prostitution in Tourism Areas."
The authorities determined that it was worthless to close down whorehouses if the problem of child prostitution was not combatted at the root and alternative occupations found for the victims, deputy minister of Tourism, Henry Pimentel, told Luchy Placencia of Ultima Hora in a recent interview.
He explained that the immediate goal of the plan is to incorporate 25 teenagers in the Boca Chica area into a training program under the Instituto de Formación Técnico Profesional, Infotep, and 40 others into the vocational schools of the Armed Forces. The government funded school for artisans, Cenadarte is also installing an extension in Boca Chica to train young Dominicans in the art of making handicrafts. Furthermore, institutions such as the Dirección General de Promoción de la Mujer are giving open workshops on Law 2497 on violence in the home. And Unicef, the United Nations division that works for the welfare of children, will be installing in Boca Chica a children's and teenager center to assist victims of sex tourism.
These efforts are complemented with the closing of whorehouses, persecution of promoters of sex tourism, especially where minors are involved, and the creation of a system of institutional cooperation to prevent and counteract its occurrrence. Participating also in these efforts are community groups, neighborhood associations and the regional and national association of hotels.
Teresa Rojas, director of the Organismo Rector del Sistema de Protección de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes, a government organization that seeks to protect children and teenagers, said that more than 25,455 minors have been victims of the sex tourism, out of a population of 3,233,000 persons under age 18.

Rock star dies in accident
Forty-year old Hans Hoelzel, "Falco", the renown Austrian rock star who gained world fame for his "Rock Me, Amadeus" song, and a personal friend of Formula One champion Niki Lauda, was killed in a traffic accident on the Puerto Plata-Sosua highway, near La Gran Parada. He died when the jeep he was driving crashed into a bus. Cesar Ares German, police commander of Puerto Plata said that the accident took place at 6 pm on Friday, when the artist was entering the highway, after stopping at La Gran Parada. The artist died instantly. His cadaver was taken the Hospital Ricardo Limardo's morgue, and then to the Centro Regional de Patología de Santiago, for an autopsy.
Hans Hoelzel was about to build a luxury village in Cofresí, Puerto Plata, at Hacienda Resorts, where he was renting a villa for the past two years. The Listin Diario newspaper reported that he had had a discussion with a Dominican woman, and had been drinking since early Friday. Reportedly, employees at La Gran Parada had recommended that he not drive, as he was allegedly drunk. He was on his way to the Puerto Plata International Airport to pick up someone. His friend Niki Lauda sent his cadaver to Austria on a special flight.
Press reports indicate that Hoelzel was about to release a new CD, "Out of the Dark." Interestingly, one of the songs of the CD is a sad one, "Do I Have to Die to Live?"
A special funeral service will be held on Saturday at the Zentral Friedhoff cemetery of Vienna.

80,000 French tourists forecast
Petra Rondon of the Listin Diario reports that authorities expect some 80,000 French tourists to visit this year, up from last year's 40,000. In 1997, Air France increased its flights to the D.R. and AOM began its flights to Punta Cana. As a result there are now 10 flights a week from Paris to this country, up from four last year. Reportedly, the French come to enjoy the beaches and exposure to nature, but also get pleasure from getting to know Dominican history and architecture. French tourists are known to tour the entire island in one stay, taking tours to Santo Domingo, Enriquillo Lake (in the Southwest) and Samana (on the Northeast Coast).

Orlando firm wins P.R. contract for tourism
Yesawich, Pepperdine and Brown was awarded a two-year contract to handle public relations of the Dominican Republic for the U.S. market. Vice President Jim Pepperdine signed the contract. Minister of Tourism Felix Jimenez said that the contract is important because the U.S. is the most important market source for the Caribbean. The D.R. seeks to double the number of U.S. visitors. Advertising is in the hands of the Leo Burnett advertising agency.
This is the fourth time that Yesawich, Pepperdine works with the Dominican Republic. The firm was awarded a contract for tourism advertising when Victor Cabral was minister of tourism during the Antonio Guzman PRD government. Later, the firm returned to execute a public relations program when Fernando Rainieri was minister, during a Balaguer government. The firm was responsible for the advertising account of the country in a program under the Association of Hotel's Council for the Promotion of Tourism, when Ellis Pérez directed the organization. This campaign was criticized as it was carried out regardless of the unavailability of collateral material. Minister of Tourism, Luis Taveras, at the time had committed the financial support of the government, which never materialized.

Women in politics
The Junta Central Electoral, the organization in charge of the electing government officers, ruled that 25% of the candidates for municipal and congressional posts must be women. In the May 16, 1998 election, some 30 senators and 149 deputies will be elected.

John F. Kennedy bus corridor ready by end of month
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (AMET) announced that the bus corridor of John F. Kennedy Avenue will be operational by 27 of February. The second express lane for buses and public transport will operate differently from the lane on 27 de Febrero Avenue.
The bus lane of the Kennedy is being designed in the middle of the expressway, instead of along the sidewalk. Authorities expect that the absence of pedestrians, garbage cans and parking lots will make the boarding and unboarding of passengers easier.
Those taking the buses must cross the avenue and reach the center isle that divides the avenue. To avoid accidents, the "bays" into which the buses will enter will be clearly marked. The new expressway will go from Los Alcarrizos, along the Autopista Duarte through Av. John F. Kennedy, the Expreso V Centenario, Calle Padre Castellanos, Calle San Vicente de Paul, passing through the rotunda of Carretera Mella to San Isidro highway. Some 120 buses will be assigned to the new route. Of these, 18 will have air-conditioning. The fare on these air-conditioned buses will be slightly higher than the RD$3 fare charged by the non air-conditioned buses. On 26 January, the government began the operation of the first new bus corridor on 27 de Febrero Avenue with noted success.

Government party to get 10-floor tower
The Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), the government party, will begin construction of a new 10-floor tower adjacent to its present party headquarters on Independencia Avenue. Architect Eduardo Selman, who is Technical Secretary of the Presidency, and secretary general of the party, professor Lidio Cadet, made the announcement. They said monies would come from loans from private banking and from party fund-raising activities.

Dominican culture prevails despite globalization
During an interview with the Listin Diario on occasion of his participation in the Latin American forum on modernization of state enterprises which gathered several former Latin American chiefs of state in Santo Domingo, former President of Venezuela, Luis Herrera Campins, said that Dominicans have assimilated globalization and kept their customs. He commented that while in Venezuela, U.S. music is king, in the Dominican Republic, merengue music and other local beats prevail. It is also interesting to note that despite the avalanche of U.S. and international fast food shops that have arrived in the past three years, local fast food chains have been maintained and prospered as their owners have accepted the challenge and improved their quality and efficiency to compete. The success of the local brands is attributed to the fact that their owners seem to be more in tune with the local tastes.

President Balaguer stays at home
Press reports indicate that former President Joaquín Balaguer has recovered from his cold that had kept him from his routine afternoon walk on the Avenida Mirador. But the former statesman has not resumed his walks as, reportedly, he is keeping away from being pestered by PRSC members who are in disagreement with the results of the PRSC primaries taking place across the country.

Coutlee acquitted from homicide charge
El Siglo reported that the District Attorney of Santo Domingo discarded the complaint against Canadian Keith Coutlee pressed by family members of the late Yolanda Pérez Paulino and her maid María Vicente Cordero who had accused Coutlee of possible homicide. The investigations confirmed that the two women died in a bizarre accident whereby the Mitsubishi jeep driven by Pérez fell into the pool of the family house in the exclusive Los Pinos residential area. District attorney officers confirmed the findings of the director of the forensic pathology institute, Dr. Sarita Valdez, that the two had drowned and that the bodies showed no signs of violence.
Once the D.A. made known the conclusions, the father of the late Yolanda Pérez, Braulio Pérez, told the police that it had been an accident, and that his 32-year old daughter had lived a happy family life with her husband. Her husband is the owner of Reciclaje Santo Domingo. His wife worked as his secretary. They had had no children.

A new Juan Luís Guerra CD
According to El Siglo newspaper, the renown Dominican composer and musical director and performer, Juan Luis Guerra is preparing a new CD, expected to be launched this summer. Juan Luis Guerra is the most successful Dominican merengue star of all times, performing to sellout crowds in the United States, Latin America and Europe. He has been retired for three years, although his group, 4-40 recently performed at the wedding of banker Ramón Báez and Patricia Alvarez. Guerra had abandoned the musical tours to dedicate time to his Latin music station, Mango TV, and his successful radio station, Viva FM.
According to the report, the new CD will have 10-12 songs, and will include merengues, balads, bachatas and salsa. Guerra says it will include adaptations of old favorites. Sound engineer Eric Shilling, who has worked for Gloria Estefan, Alejandro Fernandez, Albita Rodriguez and Jon Secada, is assisting in the production. The recording is being made at the Criteria studio in Miami, one of the most modern in the U.S.

Duarte Highway ready by 30 March
The Minister of Public Works, Jimmy Duran, said that construction works on the Autopista Duarte, the main thoroughfare of the nation, will be completed by 30 March. The works began in 1994 in the last presidency of Dr. Joaquín Balaguer. Minister Duran said that the expansion of the highway's 178 kilometers is costing Dominicans more than RD$6,000 million. He commented that the government will soon install toll booths for trucks and vehicles in order to increase collections. These monies will be used for the maintenance of the highway.

Important sugar industry meeting
The Grupo de Países Latinoamericanos y del Caribe Exportadores de Azúcar (Geplacea) will meet in Santo Domingo in October to determine the strategy of that organization in order to preserve and develop the sugar industry into the new century in view of world and regional prospects. Representatives from 23 countries are expected at the XXXIVth General Assembly of the organization that groups sugar exporters in Latin America and the Caribbean. The event is endorsed by the FAO organization of the Untied Nations, the Asociación Latinoamericana de Desarrollo (Alade) and other international institutions. Geplacea has its headquarters in Mexico. For the event, the executive director of the organization, Luis Zedillo Ponce de León, brother of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, is expected. Also Peter Baron, director of the International Sugar Organization, and top executives of the organizations. During the event symposiums on diversification and new technologies will be held, as well as other topics.

D.R. invincible in Caribbean World Series
The Dominican Republic won its second, third and fourth games in the Caribbean World Baseball Series taking place in Puerto de la Cruz, Venezuela. The Aguilas Cibaeñas team of the Dominican Republic defeated Venezuela on Friday, 5-3, taking advantage of an error made by pitcher Oscar Henríquez. Then on Saturday, the Aguilas defeated Mexico, 5-4. Catcher Guillermo Garces became the hero of the third game when he connected a home run with two men in base. On Sunday, the Aguilas, to the beat of a catchy merengue, defeated Puerto Rico, 9-4. Carlos Pérez, despite being affected by a sore throat, was the winning pitcher.
By defeating Puerto Rico, the Dominican team ensured it will at least tie for first place in the event. The D.R. needs only to defeat Venezuela, tonight, to repeat as Caribbean champions. The D.R. vs. Venezuela game is scheduled for 8 pm. Máximo de la Rosa will be the opening pitcher for the D.R. It will be televised to Dominican audiences. The game coincides with the televised presentation of the Cassandra, the annual event that honors show business performers.

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