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Daily News - 11 February 1998

Businessmen did talk about devaluation
The Listin Diario says its stands by its front page story where it said that businessmen that met with President Leonel Fernández on last Friday had suggested that the statesman consider a devaluation of the Dominican currency. Monsignor Agripino Núñez subsequently denied the Listín story. The Listin in an editorial said that the story had stated that "businessmen" and not the "business community" had requested the devaluation. The business community is divided over whether the government should or should not devaluate. Economists point to government overspending as one of the main reason for the increase in money in circulation that has caused a drop in the value of the peso in regards to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar is bought on the street exchange markets for RD$14.20 to RD$14.40. Commercial banks offer about RD$13.95 per dollar.

2,300 new hotel rooms in 1997
The Ministry of Tourism told the Listin Diario that during 1997 some 13 hotel projects with 5,560 rooms at a cost of more than US$254 million were approved in 1997. Minister Félix Jiménez said that 2,300 new rooms entered into operation last year, or a US$142 million investment. He said some 1,300 rooms are under construction at a cost of US$80 million.

Strategic energy reserve sought
Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina said that the government is working on a plan so that the nation may have a strategic energy reserve in order to reduce dependency on private generation plants. Several of these power plants, that were installed with contracts favorable to persons of influence during the past Balaguer administration, including the Smith-Enron and the AES Dominican Power, have continuously suffered from problems that have impeded them from offering a stable supply of power to the national energy grid. Danilo Medina said that the contracts by which those companies were installed should be revised.

A plan to reduce road accidents
The Panamerican Health Organization is assisting the Dominican government with its program to reduce traffic accidents. Shrikant Bandiwa, consultant to the World Health Organization and the Panamerican Health Organization was in Santo Domingo for three days consulting with directors of the National Plan for the Prevention of Traffic Death Accidents. In 1997, there were some 3,050 deaths in traffic accidents, up from 2,300 in 1996. These totals do not include persons who die after the accident in hospitals. The Dominican government will invest RD$41 million in educating the population in its attempt to reduce traffic accidents. Recently, Austrian rock music star, Hans Hoelzel died in a traffic accident in Puerto Plata.

PRD to stay out of National Dialogue
The political committee of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano decided not to participate in the National Dialogue, which are talks called by the government to reach a consensus on important issues. Dr. Jose Francisco Peña Gómez, nevertheless, said that the party would be ready to discuss the conclusions of the event. Peña criticized the fact that the talks are being held only weeks prior to the municipal and congressional elections. As per the National Dialogue schedule, talks are being held this month and in March, ending with a plenary session March 6-8.

U.S. seeks extradition of former consul
The Listin Diario reported that local judicial authorities have been interrogating a former director of the Dominican Social Security Institute and former consul in New York City, Rafael Pantaleón González, who is also sought by the U.S. judicial authorities.
The Listin said that Pantaleón González is being held here at the Secret Service of the Police, where he was taken on Monday after Gisela Cueto, assistant to the Attorney General required his presence for questioning. According to the newspaper, he is sought by the U.S. government for allegedly falsifying U.S. Government medical insurance claims. The Listin reported that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for the Caribbean and Central America, John Hamilton, met with the Attorney General for an hour yesterday.

Irregular congressional session a flop
President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rafael Peguero Méndez, whose call to deputies to attend an off-schedule congressional session to study the presidential veto of the telecommunications bill, the bill that increases military pensions and the bill that reduces the tax on airline tickets, did not receive the necessary support. Of 120 legislators, only 34 showed up, most members of the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo, and only one representing the PRSC, José Tatis Gómez, deputy for Montecristi. Peguero Méndez closed the session as there was not enough quorum to study the observations. To override a veto, 80 of the 120 deputies have to be present. The leader of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez had asked Peguero Méndez to not hold the session.

Sammy Sosa could buy a baseball team in DR
Hoy newspaper revealed that the Antún family could sell the baseball team, Estrellas Orientales to a group of Dominican baseball greats and businessman Miguel Feris Iglesias. It was reported that brothers Manuel and Eduardo Antún were supposedly tired of losing, and would be willing to sell to a group made up by Dominican baseball players Sammy Sosa, Rafael Ramírez and Alfredo Griffin. The Estrellas Orientales is the home team for San Pedro de Macorís, a Dominican province known for being home town to hundreds of Dominican Major League baseball players.

The invincible Aguilas
The victorious Aguilas Cibaeñas are scheduled to return to Santo Domingo at noon today after having won all six of their games in the Caribbean World Series which ended last night in Puerto de la Cruz, Venezuela. The Aguilas, in a final game held last night, defeated Mexico, 8-2. The Aguilas had already won the series the day before.
Neifi Pérez batted in 10 homeruns in the series, winning the Most Valuable Player award. Pérez established a new record of doubles in a series, with six, and batted an average of .444 with 12 hits. Other awards received by the Dominican team were: Tony Peña, the best manager; Guiillermo García, best catcher; Alex Arias, best first baseman; Miguel Tejada, best second baseman; Luis Polonia, best in left field; best pitcher Julian Tavarez; and stopper José Cabrera. Dominican team players, with the exception of the short field position, made up the All Stars team roster for the Caribbean Series.
Last year the Aguilas won the Caribbean Series after losing their first two games. This is the fourth time a Dominican team wins all its commitments in a Caribbean Series. The Licey Tigers had also done so in 1971, 1977 and 1991.

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