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Daily News - 20 February 1998

Santo Domingo Carnival
The Santo Domingo Carnival activities begin today, with an exhibition of carnival masks in fairgrounds set up at the Avenida del Puerto of Santo Domingo. The Feria del Carnaval Dominicano will open at 8 pm with an exhibition and sale of carnival masks and costumes. It will remain open through March 1, when the activities end with a giant parade along the Malecón of Santo Domingo. The Ministry of Tourism, with the sponsorship of Presidente beer, will also be showing folklore presentations at the Avenida del Puerto and in barrios and towns throughout the country. The grand gala of the Carnival will take place Thursday, 26 February, at the Hotel Jaragua's Salon La Fiesta. On Friday, closing celebrations will be held in Puerto Plata, La Vega, Montecristi, San Cristóbal and Las Terrenas, Samana. The grand finale of the Carnival is the parade on the Malecón in which carnival troupes from all over the country join floats and street dancers in a day long event. The parade will kick off at 11 am and be transmitted by satellite to the world. Renown Dominican painter Cándido Bidó is Rey Califé, king of the 1998 carnival.

Who will Dr. Balaguer choose?
He's over 90 and blind, but Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, leader of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, and president of the nation for almost three decades, is still dictating Dominican political affairs. In the 1996 presidential elections his party ended a distant third, but the opposition candidate he personally endorsed and asked his followers to support, won. Today, both the leading opposition party, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) and the government party, the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), would like his favor. But Dr. Balaguer, in his traditional style, will not disclose what is on his mind until the last minute.
Not being able to keep up with the political games of Dr. Balaguer, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, leader of the PRD, announced his party was suspending negotiations with the PRSC, until Dr. Balaguer states who he will endorse. Dr. Balaguer has admitted holding talks regarding an alliance with both the PRD and the PLD.
Meanwhile, Jacinto Peynado, presidential candidate of the PRSC in the 1996 presidential elections (but who did not receive Dr. Balaguer's endorsement), said that the negotiations carried out by certain leaders of the PRSC with other political parties are a "perfect disorder." He said the PRSC is a party off tack. He said that the situation of the party is confusing and that negotiations with PRD and PLD are being carried out behind the backs of Donald Reid Cabral, Carlos Morales Troncoso and Jacinto Peynado, upon whom Dr. Balaguer supposedly delegated the leadership of the party. President Joaquín Balaguer has criticized the organization of the primaries. It is expected he will announce the winners of the primaries, regardless of results.

Millions for the campaigns
Hoy newspaper reported that the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), will each receive RD$45 million of taxpayers' money to organize their political campaigns for the municipal and congressional elections. This is the first time the Dominican government funds the campaigns, following the ruling to the effect contained in the new electoral law.

Government officers' checks to be retained
The attorney general of the nation, Dr. Abel Rodríguez del Orbe, said that several government ministers, deputy ministers, as well as directors and administrators of departments, will not receive their paychecks on February 25, since they have not declared their personal assets and liabilities as required of government officers. Law 82-78 obliges government officers to present their personal statements upon being sworn in to office. Dr. Rodríguez sent a note to the National Budget director, Luis Hernández, recommending the latter to enforce the ruling contained in the law that states that those who have not declared will not be paid by the state. Among the ministers that have not sent in their balance sheets are Cesar Súarez, Rafael Augusto Collado, Mercedes Sabater de Macarrulla, Frank Jorge Elías, Miguel Feris Iglesias, Maribel Gassó, Radhamés Segura and Carlos Doré Cabral.
While all of the 30 senators have declared, there are still 109 deputies remaining to present their personal statements, including the president of the Chamber of Deputies. 50% of those employed in the Executive Branch still have not fulfilled the requirement.

International book fair
The Permanent Commission for the Organization of the National Book Fair announced the celebration of the First International Book Fair, Santo Domingo '98, at the Plaza del Conservatorio. The event is scheduled to take place 23 April to 3 May. It will be dedicated to Spain, which will exhibit hundreds of books, and include the participation of important Spanish literary figures.

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