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Daily News - 18 February 1998

Political flirting continues
The Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) and the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) continue to court the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) of former President Joaquín Balaguer. The party's voters could make the difference in the May 16, 1998 congressional and municipal elections. Hoy newspaper reported that the party designated a commission to seek a repeat of the Frente Patriótico alliance, the PRSC-PLD agreement that boosted the PLD to power in 1996. The PLD delegate before the Junta Central Electoral, Dr. Reynaldo Pared Pérez, said that members of the commission are engineer Temístocles Montás, who is general manager of the state electricity utility; Minister of Interior and Police, Norge Botello; and Secretary of the Presidency, Danilo Medina. The private generators at present in operation are linked to high-ranking officers in the PRSC government, which would explain the inclusion of the administrator of the CDE in the commission.
The delegate of the PRSC before the Junta Central Electoral, Dr. Juan Esteban Olivero Felix, warned the PLD that efforts for an alliance of the PRSC and the PLD are in vain, because the vast majority of party members do not want another agreement.
On the other hand, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, leader of the PRD, admitted that the government party may tempt Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, leader of the PRSC with an offer he can't refuse.
Political analysts have indicated that if the PRSC were to ally with the PRD, this would be another political coup in the career of former President Balaguer, who, despite being over 90 years old, is still considered one of the sagest Latin American politicians of all times.

Carnival Cruise to base ship here
Yehuda Brener, director for Latin America and the Caribbean of Carnival Cruise Line, said that the transatlantic ship, the "Inspiration," will be using the Port of Santo Domingo as starting point for the Caribbean cruise. Passengers will arrive by plane to board the giant ship. Carnival Cruise Line is the largest transporter of maritime passengers in the Caribbean. The line moves over one million passengers through the Caribbean. Its base ports are located in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Vancouver. The Port of Santo Domingo is considered the "in" port in the Caribbean. Passengers can disembark and visit the 16th century edifices of the first city in the New World.

Bearing the brunt of 12 hour blackouts
Residents in Santo Domingo continue to bear the brunt of 12 hour blackouts on most circuits, as the country endures the worse electricity crisis since 1990. Problems with the operation at private generators, aging and badly maintained government plants have worsened the situation. The Listín Diario reported that generation is only about 720,000 kilowatts when demand is over 1.3 million kilowatts.
The government promises relief will come when the five 34,000 kilowatt plants, the first two of which are promised to go on line by the end of March, become operational. In total, the turbogas power plants purchased from the French company, GEC Alsthom, and a sixth, capable of producing 100,000 and contracted to Siemens of Germany, will be connected this year. While those add to the supply, the large Itabo power plants are likely to go off line for maintenance.
Meanwhile, businesses in the D.R. are holding on to stand-by power generators that are suffering under the stress of prolongued use.
The blackouts do not affect major tourism projects, such as those in the East Coast (Bavaro-Punta Cana area), in Las Terrenas and several in the North Coast that are not connected to the CDE electrical grid.
In a positive development, Ernest Burri, the former president of Codetel, the largest telecommunication company in the country, announced a pool of private banks would seek to participate in the privatization of the state electrical utility in order to permanently resolve the electricity crisis.

Public hospital's baby ward closed
Authorities from the Ministry of Public Health ordered the closing of the newborn baby ward at the Centro Materno Infantil San Lorenzo de los Minas after determining three newborn babies, two of which were underweight, died following an infection.

Reporting on city traffic from high above
This week, Santo Domingo commuters will be able to tune into the news broadcasts of Radio Mil, Radio Popular, Radio Comercial and Cadena de Noticias and other stations to hear which areas of the city should be avoided. The National Police, in coordination with the radio stations, will be broadcasting traffic reports from the force's new helicopter and airplane, according to Mayor Simón Díaz, public relations officer. The traffic reports will be given during peak hours, that is, in the early morning, noon and late afternoon.
The National Police also announced they have acquired special equipment to pry victims from vehicles damaged in car crashes.

Paying taxes made easier
The Dirección General de Impuestos Internos (DGII) is making it easy for people to pay their taxes. The DGII has habilitated 450 offices throughout the country to obtain these payments for the right to transit. By the end of February, all cargo vehicles, trucks, pick-ups, trailers and heavy equipment vehicles must have their RD$150 tax paid. Private car and jeep owners are required to pay their tax in the month of March. These must pay RD$250 for vehicles dating up to 1990 models and RD$500 for vehicles purchased from the year1991 to 1998.
Taxes on public transport vehicles, including taxis, buses, ambulances and funeral cars, will be due in April.
The new sticker shows the license plate number of the vehicle. It should be placed in the right corner of the front window of the vehicle.
For a renewal, the owner of the vehicle needs to present original registration, a photocopy of the latter and the corresponding tax at any of the offices of the Instituto Postal Dominicano (Inposdom), the Banco Agrícola, and authorized car dealerships, in addition to the usual tax offices of the DGII.
A maximum of two stickers will be sold at the same time.

English teacher killed by madman
Dominicans were shocked by the tragic death of English professor, 27 year old Roberto Antonio González, who was assassinated in front of his students while teaching at a small English school in Higuey, La Altagracia province. The crime took place at around 7:30 pm on Monday, 16 February, when the teacher reprimanded Hernández, a resident in the neighborhood, for bothering the class. Hernández left and returned with the knife that killed the professor.

Dominican products for sale in Puerto Rico
Dominican products will be exhibited in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 24-26 February. The exhibition and trade mission is organized by the Dominican Center for the Promotion of Exports (Cedopex). Puerto Rico is the Dominican Republic's second largest commercial partner. The U.S. is the main trading partner. The D.R. imported US$650 million from Puerto Rico in 1997, and exported US$765 milion. This was 13.34% more than in 1996. Products to be shown are agroindustrial, milk products, juice concentrates, cigars, rums, beer, citricals, roots, kitchen utensil, handicraft and free zone services.
According to Atahualpa Domínguez, director of the Center, total Dominican exports were up 20.5% last year, including free zone exports. Total experts were US$3,269.1 million, up US$556.5 million when compared to 1996. He said that while in 1993, money crops generated 42.8% of the total of export revenues, by 1997, these were contributing only 36% of the total revenues. Non traditional exports increased from 31.1% to 35% of the total last year.

Fine Gait World Championship
The Asociación Dominicana de Caballos de Paso Fino (Adopaso), the association that groups owners of fine gait horses, is advancing on the organization of the Third World Fine Gait Equestrian Competition to be held in Santo Domingo 14-16 August . The competition will take place at the Ciudad Ganadera grounds. Fernando Núñez, organizer of the event, said that competitors will come from the United States, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia and Aruba.

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