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Daily News - 27 March 1998

Cristina says she'll investigate
Cristina Saralegui told the Spanish-language division of CNN television that she would investigate reports that her show presents fake dramas. CNN said that it is not the first time that the show is denounced for impersonations. Recently, the impersonations have presented Dominicans in demeaning situations. Nuria en el 9, a local investigative reporting television show, presented four situations in which the talk show guests in real life were not who they said to be on the popular talk show. In Santo Domingo, Telemicro, Channel 5, which initially had refused to change the 5 to 6 time slot of the program alleging freedom of expression, accepted to move up the program to the 10 pm adult hour slot.

Be prepared to go up 15 floors
If you work at the "Huacal" government offices building in Gazcue you are in good physical shape. If you are just visiting, be mentally prepared to go up many flights of stairs. The building that houses 15 floors of government offices and where hundreds of Dominicans work and thousands go for government services has only one working elevator, with five elevators out of service. The office building houses the National Budget Office, Migration, National Statistics Office, Department of Mines, Ministry of Industry and Commerce and many other important government departments. Many persons prefer the steps anyway, as if the electricity goes out, one has to wait several minutes in a closed elevator full of persons for the power plant to go on.

Getting ready to inject new capital into the electricity sector
President Leonel Fernández watched as the Comisión de la Reforma de la Empresa Pública, the government organization in charge of privatization, formally began pre-qualifying the companies that will participate in the tender to choose companies that will be investing in the privatization of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad (CDE), the state electricity utility, as per Law 141-97 on privatization. While the electricity bill that provides the legal framework for the entry of new companies in the electricity sector has not yet been passed by Congress, the Fernández administration is going ahead as if the bill had been passed. A similar situation occurred with the Monetary and Financial Code, which has been applied even if it has yet to be passed by Congress. Congress is unlikely to pass the bills until at least after August of this year, as at the present time congressmen are giving priority to political campaigning in view of the upcoming 16 May municipal and congressional elections.
The pre-qualifying will end in April when the companies chosen will participate in a tender. Companies participating in the pre-qualifying round are: Electricité de la France, Enron Caribe, Chilgener, Amoco Power, Iberdrola, Union Fenosa, Saur International, Coastal Technology, Caribe Power Dev, Endesa International , Constellation Holdings, Consorcio Ies-Luz Fuerza, and BB Energy Ventures.
These companies would invest in CDE power plants in the Itabo and Haina parks and in electricity distribution companies that would be created to service the North, South and East of the country.
In addition to the CDE, Fernández government privatization efforts encompass the Corporación Dominicana de Empresas Estatales (CORDE), that groups several government enterprises; the Consejo Estatal del Azúcar (CEA) that groups government sugar mills' and the Corporación de Fomento Hotelero that groups government hotels and other tourism industry properties.

Children's abuse case
Press reports presented the case of a little girl who tired of being sexually harassed by one of her professors, garnered the support of a group of other girls who were affected by the same situation, and together denounced the professor, seminarist Marcelino Guaba to Father Ricardo Arias, director of the Emma Balaguer Vallejo school in Sabana Pérdida. The director of the school did not heed their complaint. The girls then took their case to the nuns of the school who took an interest in the girls complaint that the seminarist touched their private parts. Father Arias has defended the seminarist. Two of the girls that denounced the aspirant to priest were expelled from the school as Father Arias refused to let his professor go, according to a press report. The parents of the supposedly abused children, Nelson Esteban, Jose Joaquin Tejada, Adelaida Melgen de Estevez, Gregoria Rosado, Evangelina Sánchez and Altagracia Jiménez now have a legal case against the professor who was suspended by the Ministry of Education. The case is to be heard in the Segunda Cámara Civil y Comercial del Juzgado de Primera Instancia del Distrito Nacional, acting as a court of minors. Meanwhile, the court ordered that Professor Marcelino Guaba be arrested. The Ministry of Public Health ordered a psychotherapeutic evaluation be carried out of the girls by the Department for the Protection of Minors of the Ministry of Public Health.

New express buses for 27 de Febrero Avenue
Oficina Metropolitana de Servicios de Autobuses (OMSA), engineer Ignacio Ditrén announced that a semi-express bus route will operate on the 27 de Febrero corridor as of next week. Instead of the 49 stops made by the OMSA buses so far, the express buses will make 12 stops. The express service will be attractive to those who have preferred to use the "voladoras" or small mini-buses complaining that the OMSA buses were "too slow." The buses will stop every four or five stops, instead of every stop. Every 10 minutes they will depart from the Manoguayabo terminal on the West side of Santo Domingo.
West-East stops
Manoguayabo OMSA terminal
Av. 27 de Febrero with Av. Isabel Aguiar
Av. Núñez de Cáceres
Plaza Central (Av. 27 de Febrero/Av. Winston Churchill)
Av. Tiradentes
Plaza Criolla (Av. 27 de Febrero/Av. Máximo Gómez)
Av. Leopoldo Navarro
Francisco Henríquez Carvajal corner Abreu
Av. Mexico corner Duarte
Av. Las Americas corner Venezuela,
Distribuidor San Vicente de Paul
East-West stops
Av. Las Americas corner Venezuela
Instituto José Reyes
27 de Febrero corner Henríquez y Carvajal
Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center
Av. Tiradentes
Plaza Central
Av. Núñez de Cáceres
Ministry of Armed Forces
Isabel Aguiar
Manoguayabo OMSA terminal
Ditrén also announced that the second Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) bus route, along the Av. John F. Kennedy, which runs parallel to the Av. 27 de Febrero but further North, would start 5 April.
Ditrén said that in the first 58 days in operation, OMSA buses have transported 2,320,703 passengers. OMSA expects that by the end of this month total users of the service will have increased to 3,371,322 people. The buses cross the city for RD$3.00.

Spanish chain invests in DR
Hoteles Catalonia chose the Dominican Republic's East Coast for its first investment in tourism outside of Spain. The Spanish hotel chain that operates 25 hotels in Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Mallorca, Tenerife and Spain and has been in business for over 20 years, is building a 2,000 hotel room complex in the area of Cabeza de Toro, adjacent to Bavaro-Punta Cana hotels. The first phase of the project is a 750-room hotel that is slated to open in June 1998.

AA in the Dominican Republic
American Airlines operates 29 flights a day from the Dominican Republic to the Miami and New York in the United States, and to Puerto Rico. The airline transported 1,900,000 passengers in 1997, or 60% of all regular flight passengers.

DR seeks to sign free trade agreement with US
The Listín Diario reported that the Dominican Republic and Central America seek to negotiate a free trade agreement with the United States. Ministers of Foreign Relations of Central America met in Washington D.C. this week with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to discuss this possibility. Ministers from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. The Presidents of Central American nations will meet in April in Santo Domingo prior to leaving for Santiago de Chile to participate in the Summit of the Americas. The Central American nations and the Dominican Republic seek bilateral trade treaties with Mexico, Venezuela and the Caribbean Community.

An award for President Fernández
Latin Trade magazine announced it will recognize President Leonel Fernández for his government style and for its efforts at achieving transparency and higher ethics in government. The President will receive the award at the Latin American Conference on Transparency in Government, organized by Latin Trade, at the Hotel Four Seasons of Mexico City from 27-28 April.

Millions for political campaigns
The Junta Central Electoral said that it will be issuing checks to the parties to fund the political campaigns. The parties are slated to receive as of 26 March some RD$171 ,683,880, or 0.5% of the central government budget, as consigned in the Electoral Law. 80% of these funds will be distributed in equal parts to the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), the three leading political parties. Each party will receive RD$45,792,368 million to be used in the political campaigns of those aspiring to municipal and congressional posts in the 16 May elections.

US dollars reap more pesos
The peso slumped yesterday down to the RD$15 to the US$1 level. Banco Nacional de Crédito (Bancrédito) was buying at RD$14.50 and selling at RD$15.10. Banco Popular was buying at RD$14.35 and selling at RD$14.95. Banco Mercantil was buying at RD$14.60 and selling at RD$14.90. Gerencial y Fiduciario was buying at RD$14.35 and selling at RD$14.85. Earlier this week, the banks were buying at an average RD$14.45 and selling at RD$14.65.

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