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Daily News - 19 March 1998

PRD leads in Gallup poll
According to the Rumbo-Gallup poll, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) candidates are the favorites to win the municipal and congressional elections for the city of Santo Domingo. The Santo Domingo election for mayor will be the one to garner the most attention of all congressional and municipal elections.
The poll indicates that former presidential candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) José Francisco Peña Gómez, is leading Roberto Salcedo, TV producer now turned politician, who is running for the incumbent party, the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD).
The poll of 500 people, taken from 12-13 March, revealed that 44% of those interviewed planned to vote for Peña Gómez and 39% for Salcedo. At the time of the poll, the PRSC had not confirmed its candidate for mayor, Rafael Corporán de los Santos. His name, though, was included in the list of possible candidates. Only four out of every 100 voters said they would vote for him.
Peña Gómez has more support among men voters (53%) than among women voters (35%). Salcedo has more support among women voters (46% favor him) than with the men (33%).
The same poll shows that Milagros Ortíz Bosch, present senator for Santo Domingo, leads with 55% of the voters' preference versus 23% for Franklin Almeyda of the PLD. At the time, the PRSC had not yet chosen its candidate for senator, but the name of the eventual candidate was included as possible senator candidate for the PRSC. 4% of the voters said they would cast their vote for Alexis Joaquín Castillo, who will be running for the PRSC.
To the question, "Which was the party they most favored," the voters responded: 45% PRD, 36% PLD and 10% PRSC.

D.R. travel show
The II Bolsa Turística del Caribe will be held 20-23 April at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel. This travel trade show promotes Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic as a travel destination. Foreign travel destinations use the show to present their products and services to Dominican travel agents and Dominican consumers. Luis Felipe Aquino is the organizer of the event.

Travel statistics
The National Statistics Office (ONE) reported that in 1997 a total of 5,199,581 travelers entered or departed using national ports and airports. ONE reported arrivals as 2,620,778 travelers, including 1,854,936 foreigners and 765,845 Dominicans. There were a total of 2,578,803 travelers departures (1,799,842 foreigners and 778,961 Dominicans). The airports with the most traffic were Las Americas (Santo Domingo) with 2,424,779 travelers, Puerto Plata with 1,504,117 travelers and Punta Cana with 903,838 travelers. La Romana International Airport serviced 120,051 persons and the Dajabón-Jimaní frontier entry point with Haiti serviced 103,783 entries and 89,624 departures.

More pesos for the dollar
Commercial banks are paying more for the dollar. Commercial banks are purchasing dollars for RD$14.10 to RD$14.30, and selling dollars at RD$14.80, with some selling up to RD$14.95. Street market values may be slightly higher, and the official Central Bank rate remains at RD$14.02. The official rate is that applied to credit card transactions.

Celebrating the 500th anniversary of Santo Domingo
The inter-institutional commission in charge of celebrations to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the founding of the city of Santo Domingo has announced that the activities organized for that important event will take place from March to December of this year.
Metropolitan archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, Mayor of Santo Domingo, Rafael Suberví Bonilla, the president of the Presidential Culture commission, Victor Victor and the president of the Oficina de Patrimonio Cultural, the cultural heritage office, Manuel Delmonte, said that the activities will climax on 5 August, the date that commemorates the foundation of the city.
Commemorative activities begin this month and will include a contest to choose a song for Santo Domingo, children and adult painting contests focusing on the Colonial City, art exhibitions, music concerts, and drama presentations centered around Calle El Conde, the pedestrian mall adjacent to the Colonial City. In one of the exhibitions, archaeological findings of the original materials dating back to the foundation of the city in 1498 will be shown. A photography contest on the city of Santo Domingo is also scheduled.
Also participating in the organization of the 500th anniversary celebrations is the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Sports, the Columbus Lighthouse, the Association of Businesses of Calle El Conde, the Museum of Dominican Man, the Museum of Modern Art, the Dominican Academy of History, the Dominican Republic Library, the
Dominican Postal Institute, the Dominican chapter of the International Council for Monuments and Sites, the Central Bank, the Banco de Reservas and the National Symphony Orchestra Foundation, among others.

Discontent in the PRSC
Several leading Partido Reformista Social Cristiano party members are furious over their exclusion from the official list of candidates of the party to the congressional and municipal elections of 16 May. The party hierarchy (namely President Balaguer and his aides) replaced many politicians that had won the PRSC primaries with their own choices. Hoy newspaper reported that party members in Santo Domingo, Azua, San Francisco de Macorís, Puerto Plata, Castillo, Barahona and Santiago de los Caballeros, among other cities, feel slighted. Party spokesman Donald Reid Cabral said that the discontent is normal and can be expected from politicians who were not favored with the PRSC candidacies.

JCE says there is still time for changes
The president of the Junta Central Electoral said that the political parties participating in the municipal and congressional elections of 16 May 1998 have three days to make changes, such as adding a signature in case it was missing on a form. That is, changes will be accepted until 20 March 1998. Dr. Juan Sully Bonnelly said that Article 72 of the Electoral Law does not allow the political parties to make substitutions after a candidate is registered unless these resign or pass away.

On government construction priorities
Former Minister of Public Works Jimmy Durán said that priorities of that Ministry should continue to be the completion of the expansion of the Autopista Duarte, the expansion of the 27 de Febrero expressway, the reparation of the Duarte Bridge and the construction of a parallel bridge, the completion of the Monte Plata-Sabana Grande de Boyá highway, and the construction of the San Pedro de Macorís roundabout or bypass, and the new bridge and roundabout of Baní.

Honoring Don German Ornes
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) honored German Emilio Ornes, director of El Caribe, with the distinction of life honorary president of the Freedom of the Press and Information Commission of the IAPA. Ornes presided over the committee for several years. A delegation of the IAPA, headed by the president of the organization, Oliver F. Clarke, of the Daily Gleaner of Kingston, Jamaica, visited Ornes at his home. Ornes is terminally ill and received his visitors in a wheel chair. Ornes has trained generations of Dominican journalists, many directors of leading Dominican newspapers.

New floating plant
The Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad (CDE) has contracted the services of the Cayman Power Barge I, a power plant barge capable of adding over 60,000 kilowatts to the Dominican electricity grid within the next six months. Within two months time, the power plant has committed to produce 35,000 kilowatts. CDE administrator Radhames Segura said that the agreement is for 3-1/2 years. The barge will be installed in the southwestern province of Barahona within the next 35-65 days, as per contract. A second phase contemplates the generation of an additional 30,000 kilowatts within six months. Power will be purchased at US$0.07 per kilowatt hour.

Enough petroleum in Azua?
The Listín Diario reported that executives of Murfin Dominicana, the Bayton Geophysical Inc. affiliate, are optimistic there may be commercially exploitable petroleum in Azua, a province about an hour and a half drive west of Santo Domingo. Spokesman Rafael Antonio Noboa said the company is hopeful that petroleum of the kind found in Saudi Arabia can be located. He said exploration works will be completed within 18 months. The concessionaire is utilizing computerized exploration technology, that uses satellites to help locate the petroleum deposits. He recalled that during the administration of Julio Sauri at the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad (CDE), the state electricity utility, Azua petroleum was used to feed local electricity generators. Noboa estimated that there could be upwards of 22,000 million barrels in the Azua area. He said they have detected that natural gas in the area could supply the province's needs.

More culprits in 12-year old assassination
The lawyers of one of the confessed assassins of 12-year old José Rafael Llenas Aybar have said they have a list of eight persons involved in the case that have not yet been contacted by judicial authorities. Lawyers Francisco Hernández and Ambiorix Díaz are requesting a supplementary court hearing during which other known suspect accomplices would be questioned. They say that Mario José Redondo, cousin of the victim and confessed murderer, did not inflict the 34 stabs into the body of the victim. They say that while their defendant is not denying his participation, investigations must continue to uncover everyone involved in the murder that took place in May 1996. They also say that the way the case is going, attention is being focused on the husband and son of the former ambassador of Argentina, who left for Argentina and are very unlikely to be expatriated to face charges, and that investigations have not continued. They add that if the case continues on this wrong track, a third of those who participated will remain free. They pointed out that there are items missing from the evidence, such as clothing and recordings, that are clues to what really happened. The lawyers said that the case must be heard in the confidentiality of the judiciary and not tried openly by the Dominican press.

Tobacco factories close
The president of the Federación Nacional de Productores de Tabaco (Fenaprotabaco), Alberto Garcia, said that cigar manufacturers are affected by high prices of farming input, the high cost of skilled labor, and unfair competition practices. The cost of producing cigars has tripled in the past three months. Some 15 factories have closed in Villa González, another 20 in Tamboril and several others in the Cibao region.

RD$8,000 million does not resolve potable water problems
The executive director of the Comité Técnico Interinstitucional del Sector Agua Potable y Saneamiento, Leonardo Mercedes, told the press that despite having invested over RD$8,000 million throughout the past five years to resolve the potable water problem in the Dominican Republic, authorities have been unsuccessful. He said that the paternalistic focus that has prevailed within the government has impeded a definite solution. He said that the Fernández government will invite private business to become involved in the supply of potable water, seeking more operational efficiency. He hopes that the participation of business will bring a new kind of competitiveness that will guarantee the population adequate levels of quality/quantity. Under this business model, the production and supply of potable water will be self-financed. The Instituto Nacional de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado (INAPA), the government organization that oversees potable water aqueducts, reportedly loses RD$20 million a month. Furthermore, the Corporación de Acueductos y Alcantarillados de Santo Domingo, the potable water authority of the city of Santo Domingo, does not bill 40% of the water delivered, and does not receive 28% of the water billed.

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