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Daily News - 02 March 1998

Free trade agreement with Central America
The Dominican Republic will sign a free trade agreement with Central American countries on 18 April. Only small details remain to be worked out. The final negotiations will take place in Santo Domingo 13-17 April. The heads of state of Central America will travel to Santo Domingo to sign the agreement on 18 April. Once signed by President Leonel Fernández, it will need to be ratified by each individual Central American nation, but the tax exempt trade can start immediately.

Fire affects Santiago's historic district
A fire affected the old buildings of Santiago's historical and commercial district. Santiago is the nation's second largest city. The fire caused thousands in losses in the Del Sol, Juan Antonio Alix, 30 de Marzo and General Cabrera street blocks. The fire is said to have been caused by a short circuit. Press reports indicate that there have been seven fires in six years in the same area. These are attributed to the aging electricity system of the old edifices and to the practice of keeping flammable materials within the buildings, such as fuel for power plants.

Changes in the Fernández government
President Leonel Fernandez shuffled his cabinet on Friday, 27 of February, a national holiday. Only hours earlier he had given his state of the nation address from the National Congress building. Most new appointments are contained in Decree 70-98. The appointments are:

 APPOINTEE NEW POSITION FORMERLY AT
 Temístocles Montás Technical Secretary of the Presidency General administrator of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad
 Eduardo Selman Director of the Dominican Corporation of State Enteprises (CORDE) Technical Secretary of the Presidency
 José Ramón Fadul Liaison Executive Branch with the Legislative Branch Director of the Dominican Corporation of State Enteprises (CORDE)
 Radhamés Segura General administrator of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad President of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (Refidomsa)
 Francisco Javier García President of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (Refidomsa) General administrator of the National Lottery
 Taina Gautreaux General administrator of the National Lottery General administrator of Savica, the public employees social services department
 Diandino Peña Minister of Public Works Administrative Secretary of the Presidency
 Simón Lizardo Administrative Secretary of the Presidency  Controller of the Republic
 Adriano Miguel Tejada Press Secretary  
 Rafael Serulle Director of the Office that Supervises Government Works  
 Paino Abreu Collado Director of the Dominican Agrarian Institute (IAD) General adminsitrator of the Banco Agrícola (state agriculture bank)
 Juan Delancer Director of the state television channel (RTVD)  Assistant to the President
 Guaroa Guzmán Director of SAVICA  
 Virgilio Alcántara Ambassador/consul to Korea  Press Secretary
 Victor Manuel Peña Deputy Minsiter of Finances  
 Rubén Peña National Treasurer Deputy Minister of Finances
 Germán Guadalupe Peña Director of the Ground Transport Office (OTTT)  
 Ignacio Ditrén Director of the Metropolitan Bus Services Office (OMSA) Director of the Ground Transport Office (OTTT)
 Carlos Segura General administrator of the Banco Agrícola  
 Camilo Suero Director of the Department for Promotion and Development of Frontier Communities  
 Augusto Vargas Deputy Minister of Finance  
 Juan Isidro Carvajal Deputy Minister Interior and Police  
 Jorge Zayas Deputy Minister Interior and Police  
 Mario Alvarez Deputy Minister of Sports  
 Miguel Solis Castillo  Deputy Minister of Sports  


Price controls are back
The government froze the prices of three principal food staples - rice, milk, chicken and Portland-kind cement. Ministry of Industry and Commerce ruled that rice will have a maximum price of RD$5.50, liquid milk will sell for RD$15 and chicken, RD$12. Grey cement will sell for RD$68.60. The measure comes at a time when the government is influenced by the upcoming municipal and congressional elections to be held on 16 May.

Millions for travel advertising
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez said that in 1998 the government will invest US$12 million in an advertising and promotional campaign in principal source markets. The government invested US$8 million last year. The monies will be spent in the United States, Spain, Italy, Germany, England and France. Minister Jiménez says that the national hotel inventory continues to grow, with an additional 3,700 hotel rooms expected to open this year.
Tourism industry generated US$2,200 million in 1997, a 15% growth over 1996. More than 2.5 million tourists arrived and the hotel inventory increased from 35,729 rooms in 1996 to 38,000 last year.

Art exhibit in Geneva
The Consulate General of the Dominican Republic in Geneva, Switzerland, inaugurated an exhibit of the Dominican painter Iván Martínez y Villegas on 26 February at the Marche of Hotel Movenpick in Geneva. The exhibition was part of festivities held by the Dominican community in Switzerland on occasion of Independence Day. Martínez y Villegas attended the inauguration. The exhibition will be open through 30 March.

Venezuelan wins international cycling event held here
The cycling team from Venezuela won the XIX Vuelta Ciclística Independencia Nacional, rated as the most important cycling tour in the Central American and Caribbean region. Some 120 cyclists from 15 countries participated in the 19th year of the competition that concluded in Santo Domingo on 27 of February, National Independence Day. The competition finished at the Avenida Charles de Gaule. Participants came from Germany, United States, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Panama, Grand Cayman and Switzerland.
The winners from Venezuela were Merchan Robinson, Omar Pumar, Alexi Mendez and Aldrin Salamanca, with a time of 75 hours and 23 minutes. Cyclists from Switzerland were second with 75 hours and 58 minutes. The Swiss competitors were Barnsley Aristopher, Daniel Van, Muller Rolan and Gul Roman. The Dominican team (Mauricio Báez), reinforced by Jose Flontscharistch, with Jorge Cordero, Santiago Genao and Richard Quezada, placed third with 76 hours and 28 minutes. Venezuelan cyclist Merchan Robinson was voted the most outstanding athlete of the event. He completed the seven stages of the event in a time of 25 hours and three minutes. He was followed by his teammate Omar Pumar, with 25 hours and six minutes. German Werner Jurgen, competing on the Alico team for the D.R., was third, with a time of 25 hours and 13 seconds. The D.R.'s Wendy Cruz, voted cyclist of the year in 1997, placed 10th with a time of 25 hours and 28 minutes.
José Cruz, of the Montecarlo team for the D.R., won the last leg of the competition.

FINAL STANDING BY INDIVIDUALS
 NAME  TEAM TIME
 Robinson Merchan Venezuela 25:03:15
 Omar Pumar Venezuela 25:06:10
 Werner Jurgen Alico-DR 25:13:07
 Barnsley Aristopher Switzerland 25:16:43
 Alexis Méndez Venezuela 25:17:27
 Van Daniel Switzerland 25:18:00
 Jose Flontscharitsch Mauricio Báez-DR 25:20:06
 Wittwer Marco Germany 25:20:32
 Muller Roland Switzerland 25:22:40
 Wendy Cruz Malta India-DR 25:28:43

 
FINAL STANDING BY TEAMS

 
 NAME
TEAMTIME
 Venezuela 75:23:05 0:00:00
 Switzerland 75:58:07 0:35:02
 Mauricio Báez-DR 76:28:49 1:05:44
 Germany 76:34:42 1:11:37
 Malta India-DR 76:43:36 1:20:31
 Chicago 77:20:57 1:57:52
 Asodoci New York 77:21:07 1:58:02
 Montecarlo-DR 77:23:08 2:00:03
 Aro y Pedal-DR 77:26:44 2:03:39
 La Vega-DR 77:49:27 2:26:22

 

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