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Daily News - 26 March 1998

Cristina skirts the issue of impersonations
Cristina Saralegui told David Viñuales, Listín Diario newspaper correspondent in New York City, that she has no way of knowing if the people that she says request to appear on her show to tell their stories are lying to her. Recently, Dominican TV investigative reporter Nuria Piera exposed on Dominican television the story of several Dominicans who confessed to having played the roles of others as per scripts that were given to them by the producers of the El Show de Cristina, the Spanish-language talk show with the highest rating in the United States. On the Dominican television program the talk show guests said they were enticed with expenses paid weekends in Miami and payments for their services. Nuria's calls to El Show de Cristina producer Yoly Arocha for a comment on the findings were not responded to, despite the fact that she explained why she was calling.
In Santo Domingo, Telemicro, Channel 5 accepted to change the time slot of the program given its content is not appropriate for viewing by children.

After me, chaos
Former President of the Republic, Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, leader of the PRSC said many years ago, "despues de mi, el diluvio." (after me, chaos), and this seems to be his legacy to the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC). The blind former statesman, who despite his over 90 years and being out of power still maintains a strong grip on Dominican politics, seems to not have as a priority the strengthening of his party now that he is on his way out for biological reasons. His choice of candidates to run for the PRSC in the upcoming municipal and congressional elections has met with the rejection of thousands of party militants, many of whom have resigned. The militants feel the leadership of the party did not respect the results of the primaries. Maribel Gassó, businesswoman turned politician, and who ran for vice president accompanying the PRSC's candidate in the 1996 presidential election was one of the latest to resign. The party placed Gassó in 13th place on the list of deputies. Gassó complained that she was the woman who obtained the highest number of votes in the primaries.

Bahía de las Aguilas land titles still in the wrong hands
Attorney General Abel Rodríguez del Orbe accused the judges of the Tribunal Superior de Tierras, the property court, and lawyer Mario Read Vittini of maneuvering to delay the legal annulling of the property titles to lands issued to those illegally purchasing the lands adjacent to the Bahía de las Aguilas. The lands legally belong to the Instituto Agrario Dominicano and Consejo Estatal del Azucar, two government organizations, and cannot be passed to private hands. Several persons of influence, including the congressman for the province of Peravia, purchased these lands for resale to investors in tourism development. The Bahía de las Aguilas area in Pedernales on the Southwest Coast of the island is described as one of the most spectacular beach areas in the country.

The executioner goes before the judges
Judge Juan Maria Severino is known as the hangman, for his harsh sentences. The 67 year old judge is also known for his 27 November 1988 judgment whereby he condemned former President Salvador Jorge Blanco to 20 years of prison and the payment of a fine and indemnification of more than 100 million pesos to the state. During his career as judge, 30 year sentences were common. On Wednesday, 25 March, though he went before the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice to demonstrate his knowledge of the law. Judge Severino aspires to be confirmed as a judge by the Supreme Court that is interviewing judges and lawyers to choose new judges. The press reported he was very nervous upon being questioned. The Supreme Court hearings, which are open to the public, made apparent the educational deficiencies of many lawyers, as well as a lack of keeping up to date on behalf of the present judges.

Business and government agree on need for lower tariffs
The Listín Diario reported that businessmen and government are in favor of restructuring the tax system to lower import duties to the levels of Central America. The DR is about to sign a free trade agreement with Central America nations where imports pay much less. The businessmen fear that if the tariffs are not reduced, the DR will end up exporting taxes which affects the competitiveness of national exports. The restructuring of the tax system has not been passed by Congress. Congress is in forced recess since congressmen have given priority to political campaigning. Several seek to be re-elected in Congress or elected to municipal posts in the 16 May election. Businessmen and the Minister of Industry and Commerce Luis Manuel Bonetti made their comments during the American Chamber of Commerce luncheon that commemorates that organization's 75th year.

DR needs free trade agreements with Central America and Caribbean
The Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre emphasized that the DR needs to sign free trade agreements with both Central America and the Caribbean Community at the same time. He said that these represent a market of 60 million persons. He said that then the region will be in a better position to negotiate with the larger regional blocks, such as the Mercosur and the Andean Pact and the North American Free Trade Agreement. He defended the Dominican Republic's signing of the agreements saying that a recent Latin American Economic Commission (CEPAL acronym in Spanish) study revealed that the DR is the Central American and Caribbean nation best prepared to benefit from regional integration.

PLD accuses PRD of inciting violence
The secretary general of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) Lidio Cadet said that the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) was behind the 42-day strike that affected the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the state university, and the recent skirmishes in slum area barrios. Cadet said that the PRD is trying to make life impossible for the government, sponsoring strikes seeking to reduce the popularity of the government party now that the congressional and municipal elections are soon to take place. He denied versions that the PLD is buying congressmen and opposition party leaders. He also denied that the PLD is counteracting the allegedly PRD-sponsored trouble-making efforts in the barrios by paying delinquents to stay out of the trouble.

A tender to purchase fuel
Radhamés Segura, the new administrator of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad (CDE) announced that the state electric utility will be holding a tender to select its seller of fuel. Segura is a former administrator of the Refineria Dominicana de Petroleo (Refidomsa), from which the government purchases fuel using Esso, Shell and Texaco as intermediaries. Segura said that by buying direct, the CDE would save a significant amount of money. He said the CDE has to pay private generators more than RD$300 million a month. He said that the CDE barely collects RD$382 million a month from consumers. Furthermore, Segura said that they are working on a standard contract that would be used for all private power suppliers and that they would revise the contracts that are in effect.

John F. Kennedy bus corridor
The Metropolitan Transport Authority says that 120 buses will be in operation on the second public transport corridor starting in April. The second corridor will run from Km. 9 of the Autopista Duarte, along the John F. Kennedy Avenue, V Centenario Expressway, Av. Padre Castellanos, Av. San Vicente de Paul, Carretera Mella to end in the Tamarindo neighborhood on the East side of Santo Domingo.

Where's all that money coming from?
Rafael Corporán de los Santos, a former mayor of Santo Domingo who seeks to repeat on the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) ballot, challenged his opponent Roberto Salcedo of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) to explain where the millions he is financing his campaign with are coming from. "He is not a son of the Bonetti's, nor does he have money. He should tell the people where the money to place all those posters is coming from, because the Junta Central Electoral has not yet given the PLD any money," said Corporán.

International Book Fair
The First International Book Fair of Santo Domingo opens in this capital city on 23 April. The fair will last through 3 May. It is organized by the Dominican government at an estimated cost of RD$10 million. The organizing committee president is José Rafael Lantigua. Dominican publishing houses and authors hope to find new markets for their publications as an outcome of the fair.

Important car race set for Santo Domingo
The Shell Pan American GT is set to be held this weekend coinciding with the inauguration of the Las Americas Speedway along Las Americas Highway on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. The first races of the National Speed Racing Championship will also take place from 28 to 29 March. Competitors are coming from the United States, including Irv Hoerr, and Latin America to participate in the fourth race of the Shell Pan American GT. Some 21 contenders have registered for the race. The national championship is organized by the Club Dominicano de Corredores de Circuito, and its president Angel Tarrazo. The qualifying races will take place on Saturday. Those buying tickets to the finals on Sunday will be able to attend the qualifying races for free. The first place winner of the Shell-sponsored race will receive US$3,000, the second place winner, US$1,500 and the third US$750.
The Las Americas Speedway is considered one of the best race tracks in Latin America.

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