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Daily News - 13 April 1998

Most tragic happening of Easter Week
One-and-a-half year old Yandra Rossó miraculously survived a 100 meter fall by landing on a shrub when the jeep in which she was traveling lost control. Five other fellow travelers, including her 27 year old mother, nurse Ana Antonia Canario, died in the tragedy, the worst during the past Easter Week. Yandra was traveling with her twin sister, Chantal, and relatives Santiago Canario, 62, his wife Maria Bautista de Canario, 60, 34 year old Evarista Canario Rossó, on Thursday, 8 April to spend the Easter long weekend with her grandmother in Palo Alto, Barahona, in the southwest of the Dominican Republic. The accident occurred on the Azua-Barahona highway, when the driver lost control of the jeep when a tire exploded. The deceased were taken to the public hospital of Azua, to where Police sergeant Evaristo Rossó later traveled to pick up his daughter. The little girl is now with her grandmother in Barahona. She was visited by Santo Domingo Mayor Rafael Suberví Bonilla, who aspires to be a deputy for Barahona in Congress and Jose González Espinosa, who is running for senator also on the same Partido Revolucionario Dominicano ticket as Suberví.

Death toll under 60
The death toll for the Easter long weekend is likely to be under 60 persons. Reports as of 7:30 pm indicated there had been 52 persons had died of intoxication, drowning or in road accidents. National Police, Red Cross and Civil Defense spokesmen said that the many patrols on highways, and preventive measures such as the ban on beach bathing after 6 pm, the pro-seat belt campaign, the ban on the sale of glass bottles in beach resorts areas, the ban on disco-lights that promoted alcoholic beverage sales on beaches, as well as a more prudent attitude of the vacationers, resulted in a reduction of accidents this year. Total deaths last year were 58.

Floods in Montecristi
The Northwest of the Dominican Republic was affected by floods last weekend. A blind 80-year old farmer and his 15-year old son drowned when the Jagüey Dam overflowed and destroyed their dwelling. Six other families lost their homes, a highway was damaged and Villa Vásquez communities suffered from floods. Large farm areas were severely damaged by the floods. The press said that a lack of maintenance to the dam caused the overflowing. The dam is used to irrigate farmland. This is the second time in the past six months that Montecristi is affected by heavy rains.

Trading with Cuba
Danilo Medina and Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre met with President Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba. The Dominicans were in Cuba for the opening of the Dominican consulate that reopens formal relations with Cuba. Cuba had opened its consulate in Santo Domingo last December.
During the meeting, Castro had praise for the government of President Leonel Fernández. "May I say, like the Pope said, that the world is opening to Santo Domingo and the world to the Caribbean," he said.
Another member of the Dominican delegation to Cuba, Miguel Cocco, director of Customs Department, said that the opening of the Cuban consulate was a logical step as Dominican trade with Cuba is increasing. "We are selling almost everything to Cuba: soap, detergents, lubricants, edible oils... Cuba is a desirable market for the Dominican Republic and we are slowly conquering it, as the Cubans are conquering our market," he said.
Manuel Jiménez, a Hoy newspaper columnist who covers government, speculated that President Clinton could be using the Dominican Republic as part of its strategy to re-establish trade relations with Cuba. The newspaper points to the presence of the Customs Director and the Secretary of the Presidency in Cuba, and the extensive comments on the strengthening of relations between Cuba and the DR as indications that something bigger is cooking. He speculated that President Fidel Castro could visit on occasion of the Caribbean Community summit set for Santo Domingo this fall and at that meeting Cuba could be integrated with the region. Experts have said continuously that it is in the better interest of U.S. business that relations with Cuba be re-established.

Pedro Martínez impresses in Boston
Pedro Martínez, the world's best paid baseball player, made "the greatest comeback in 98 seasons of home openers," as was described by the Boston Globe. The Dominican pitcher impressed Boston fans with a 12-strikeout, two-hit shutout in his Fenway Park debut. The 26-year-old performed to a flag-waving, name-chanting, foot-stomping crowd of 32,403 and didn't give the Seattle Mariners machinery a chance. The Red Sox defeated the Mariners 5-0. Fellow Dominican Alex Rodríguez's sixth-inning single along with Joey Cora's fourth-inning single were the only Mariner hits. During the game, Martínez struck out Rick Wilkins for his 1,000th career strikeout. With that game, Martínez has pitched three times for the Red Sox, won twice and allowed just one earned run in 23 innings, an ERA of 0.39.
Martínez was cheered on by a large contingent of Dominican residents in the States. The Boston Globe reported that "everywhere you looked, there were red, white and blue flags of the Dominican Republic, brought to the park by fans from Lynn, Lawrence, Jamaica Plain, and every other street corner where a merengue beat is heard." Reporter Bill Koenig of Baseball Weekly said the enthusiastic baseball fan crowd created an environment that "resembled a game during the soccer's World Cup, where a guy from another country brings people into the stands from other places, and Boston isn't known for that."
Juan Marichal, Minister of Sports in the Dominican Republic, traveled to Boston for the game. When Martínez won the Cy Young he dedicated the award to Juan Marichal, saying that it was Marichal's award. Marichal, a Hall of Famer, was unfairly denied the award in his time. Marichal was in the stands behind the home plate with Luis Tiant, a former Sox pitcher, both celebrating Martínez's prowess.
"Pedro reminds me of the days when Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale and I were pitching," Marichal said, pointing out Martínez's competitive spirit. Martínez pitched the entire game.
He said he delivered a message from President Leonel Fernández to Martínez. Marichal said, "The President asked me to tell him that he would be following each of his outings and was real proud of him. He said to tell him to continue to forge ahead, that he is an example for Dominican youths."

Free trade agreement with Central America almost set
The last round of discussions is taking place among ministers of economy and foreign relations from Central America and the Dominican Republic now in Santo Domingo for the signing of the Dominican Republic's first regional integration scheme. The treaty provides for free movement of trade, promotion of investments and free movement of capitals, and will result in a market of 42 million consumers. Chiefs of state from Central America will be in Santo Domingo on 16 April to sign the free trade agreement with the Dominican Republic. The agreement is to include a clause that provides for a six month period in which both Central American nations and the DR will be able to present a list of up to 20 products to be excluded from tariff exemptions.
Presidents Armando Calderón Sol, El Salvador; Carlos Flores, Honduras; José María Figueres Olsen, Costa Rica; Arnoldo Alemán, Nicaragua and Guatemala will be represented by Minister of Economy Mauricio Wuermeser. The Presidents will then fly together to Santiago de Chile, to participate in the Second Summit of the Americas, a conclave where the 34 chiefs of state of Latin America, United States and Canada will discuss the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas that is set for year 2005.

No salary increases for government employees this year
The Fernández government said that there would be no salary increases for public employees this year. This decision affects the administrative employees of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, that had accepted an 8% in order to desist from the month-and-a-half strike that had impeded the commencement of the semester at the state university. The UASD rector had conditioned the increase in wages to the central government funding the raise. The decision also affects the aspirations of public hospital physicians and nurses that had aspired to an increase in wages. The Fernández administration said it would continue with its efforts to increase the buying power of Dominicans in general, by reducing the prices of food staples, especially now that fuel prices have been declining.

Board member shuffling at CDE
President Leonel Fernández replaced five members of the board of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad (CDE). The new members of the state electricity utility are engineers Jose Aponte and Jose Luis Moreno, Roberto Rodríguez Estrella, lawyer Jaime Aristy Escuder and journalist Antonio Jacobo Constant Miguel. They replace engineers Ramón Flores, Eduardo Rodríguez, Mariano Germán, Manuel Cocco and César Armenteros. Celso Marranzini continues to preside the board. Hoy revealed that the board members may have been forced to resign. Reportedly they had disagreements with the new administrator of the CDE, engineer Radhamés Segura. Hoy reported that some of the resigning board members had criticized that Segura is the principal executive in the country of the Italian energy generation Enel that has several contracts with the CDE for jobs in the East, North and the Parque Higuamo. On the other hand, Hoy reported that close aides of former administrator Temístocles Montás have been forced to resign.

Argentinean lawyers to seek extradition of former diplomats
The Attorney General's office has entrusted Argentine lawyers Luis Moreno Ocampo and Roberto de Michele with the Dominican state case against Martin Palmas de la Calzada and Luis Martin Palmas, husband and son of the former Argentinean ambassador in the Dominican Republic, Teresa Meccia de Palmas. Justo Pedro Castellanos Khoury, of the Attorney General's office, empowered the lawyers to request the extradition of the former diplomats on behalf of the Dominican government. The former diplomats are sought in Santo Domingo for questioning as to their involvement in the assassination of 12-year old José Rafael Llenas Aybar.

Fame opens at National Theater
Fame, the musical opens in Santo Domingo at the Teatro Nacional on 16 April through 26 April at 8:30 pm. This Spanish language version of the musical is a production by dancer-business woman Monica Despradel and Rodven. The script is by José Fernández, the lyrics by Jacques Lev, the music by Steven Margoshes. Fame was written by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore. The Spanish version was created and directed by Jaime Azpilicueta. Tickets are RD$400 and RD$200.

38 persons maimed per each person that dies in car accident
The Dominican expert in trauma, Dr. Pedro Green said that for every person that dies in a car accident, more than 38 persons are maimed for life. Last year there were 3,050 deaths in car accidents and 115,000 injured persons. He said that two of every three persons involved in a car crash are left with permanent injuries.
Dr. Green said that the extensive use of cellular phones is causing an increase in car accidents.

Illiteracy high in frontier areas
According to the results of the final results of the 1993 Population and Housing census, in the Dominican Republic 640,989 male and 676,108 females over five years old do not know how to read or write. These are at least five years old. This represents 21% of the total population. Of the total 531,038 live in rural areas and 776,323 in cities. The cities with the least number of illiterates are Santo Domingo with 12%, La Romana, San Pedro and Santiago with 16.3%, and 17.06% and 18%.
Illiteracy is highest in the frontier areas and some southwestern provinces - Elías Piña, 44.1%; Azua, 36.1%; San Juan de la Maguana, 35.4%; Bahoruco, 36%; Independencia, 34.1%; and Pedernales, 31%.

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