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Daily News - 23 April 1998

Blackouts to be eliminated by year 2000
President Leonel Fernández promised blackouts would be history by the time he ends his term in August, 2000. The President emphasized that he is committed to modernize the Dominican Republic, and thus the establishment of a stable electricity service is a top priority. The President called out for "death to blackouts." President Fernández made the comments in San Pedro de Macorís where he traveled to formally leave in operation two 34.5 megawatt plants that will contribute to improve service in the East. During the inauguration, he also announced that the Dominican government is negotiating with a Scotland-U.S. consortium for the purchase of three units that would generate 100 megawatts. He said these three plants, and the others already contracted, will bring to 956 megawatts the total his government will install before August, 2000. The Fernández government has had to catch up, as previous governments were lax in contracting new power plants. In the previous Balaguer administration, the government awarded contracts today deemed onerous to private contractors.
President Fernández gave the keynote speech during the placing into operation of two of the five turbogas units purchased from the French company, GEC Alsthom. The turbogas units cost US$71 million. Another three will be installed in the Itabo power plant park and in the Haina power plant park.
Once these units are operating, as part of a second phase they will be set up so they can generate an additional 150 megawatts using steam generated to complete a combined cycle operation.
During the event, Radhamés Segura, general manager of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad, the state electricity utility, promised significant improvement in the electricity service by August 1998. He said that by then, the state will have installed 60% of the 500 megawatts promised in the presidential election campaign of 1996.
At present being installed also is a 100 megawatt Siemens power plant. Another floating barge with capacity to generate 30 megawatts will also go on line soon. The barge will be based in Barahona, in the Southwest.
Engineer Segura said that the CDE is also improving the substations and 138 kilowatt transmission lines in La Romana, Higüey and El Seibo, as well as the lines that service the industrial free zones in La Romana and San Pedro de Macorís.
Among the long range solutions to the energy crisis, he mentioned the rehabilitation of major power plants, such as units Haina I, II, III and IV and Itabo I and II.
Radhamés Segura also confirmed that two new 125 megawatt units, Itabo style, have also been contracted. He was mostly likely referring to those contracted with a Spanish firm.

Privatizing of the CDE advances
The Comisión de Reforma de la Empresa Pública, the government commission in charge of capitalizing state enterprises, announced that 19 of 21 foreign companies that sought to participate in the tender to choose the firms that will participate in the capitalization of the state electricity utility have been pre qualified. He said the winner of the tender will be known in July of this year. He clarified that the power plants will not be sold. Rather they will be the capital assets contributed by the state as its 50% participation in the new companies. Pre qualified companies are: Electricité de France, Enron Caribe, Gener S.A., Amoco Power Development Co., Ltd., Iberdrola, Union Fenosa, Coastal Power Dominicana Generation Ltd., Empresas Emel/PP&L Global, Endesa International. Constellation Power International Investments, Southern Energy Inc., AES Distribución Dominicana, Tractabel, S.A., ABB Energy Ventures, Corproation EDC SACA, Consorcio IES-Luz y Fuerza, Seaboard Corporation, Houston Technologies and Consorcio Sudamericano.

Changes in government
President Leonel Fernández replaced the executive director of the Consejo Estatal del Azúcar, Ignacio Rodríguez Chiappini. He was replaced by PLD leader Oscar Santiago Batista. Santiago Batista is a former PLD senator for Monseñor Nouel province. He was formerly general manager of the Corphotels. He is the owner of the Típico Bonao, a popular parador along the Autopista Duarte, the country's main thoroughfare that heads North from Santo Domingo. The President also removed Deputy Minister of Finances Faustino Jiménez. He was replaced by Juan Rivera.
The President appointed his sister Sonia Fernández as president of the Consejo Nacional de la Niñez, replacing the late Ana Elisa Villanueva, widow of former President Jacobo Majluta, who died recently.
The President appointed Julian Elsevyf as general manager of the Corporación de Fomento de la Industria Hotelera y Desarrollo del Turismo (Corphotels). José Ramón Peralta was named member of the board of directors of the Banco de Reservas, replacing German Emilio Ornes, who died recently. Juan Jose Rosario was appointed governor of Duarte province (San Francisco de Macorís), replacing Octavio Lister Henríquez.

Time to eliminate the propane gas subsidy?
The president of the Asociación Nacional de Distribuidores de Gas Licuado de Petróleo (Asonadigas) recommended that the government eliminate the subsidy on propane gas. He denounced that local businessmen are selling the subsidized fuel to Haitian businessmen for subsequent sale at much higher prices in neighboring Haiti. Some 150 million gallons of propane gas a year are consumed in the Dominican Republic, most heavily subsidized.

Book Fair opens today
The I International Book Fair of Santo Domingo, a global version of the National Book Fair (in its 25th year), opens tonight on the grounds of the National Music Conservatory. President Leonel Fernández himself will be there to open at 7:30 pm what has turned into the principal cultural event held in Santo Domingo every year. 130 performers will go on stage to open the 10-day event that takes place at the conservatory grounds at César Nicolás Penson avenue corner Alma Mater. Those attending are recommended to take taxis or park far away as on the fair grounds parking is difficult.
The opening time has been set for 6 pm, but the fair will be open as of Friday from 9:30 am to 10:30 pm. The fair will last through 3 May. Admission is free for days of unending cultural events of the arts and visits to over 280 pavilions hosted by national and international companies. Some 150 international publishing houses are participating from Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Spain, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela.
On the opening day, a play in honor of late Dominican folklorist, Fradique Lizardo will be staged at 8:30 pm. The opening show is entitled "Entre Páginas" and is produced by Salvador Bergés.
Over a million visitors are expected, breaking last year's record.
The director of the National Music Conservatory, Floralba del Monte lamented that the book fair totally takes up the musical education activities of the conservatory. She said that when the book fair was held there originally several years back, she was told it was only a provisional location. She says that the conservatory is not the right place for the very popular book fair that hundreds of thousands of visitors that trample on the grounds and interrupt music education activities. More so, parking is extremely difficult in the area. This just emphasizes, that Santo Domingo desperately needs a large indoors convention facility.

New building for music school
The Ministry of Public Works began the construction of a RD$27 million new building for the Escuela Elemental de Música Elila Mena, the nation's leading music school. Minister of Education Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona said that the new 5,200 square meter building will allow for a tripling of the 500 students today attending the school. The two-floor building will have 45 classrooms, an auditorium for 350 students, a library, audiovisual room, central air-conditioning and acoustic system. The new facility is going up on the grounds of the National Music Conservatory. The President's two children study at the school.

Mathematics Olympiads
The 13th Iberoamerican Mathematics Olympiad will take place in Puerto Plata this 19-27 September. Some 2,200 students from 22 countries will participate in the event that is sponsored by the Ministry of Education, the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, and the Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (OEI). It will be held at the Montemar Hotel in Puerto Plata city. Participants are coming from Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.

Preserving bird species
International bird-watchers and leading environmental organizations will participate in the 24-April Conference on Planning for the Conservation of Bird Fauna in the Dominican Republic. The event will be held at the National Botanical Gardens. Talks will cover the conservation of bird species, plans for the handling of the species and monitoring of bird populations. The conference is endorsed by the National Parks Department, the Wildlife Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Botanical Garden, the Biology Department of the University of Missouri-Columbia, the Environmental Conservation Program of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Grupo Jaragua, Grupo Ecologista Tinglar and the Anabelle Dodd Bird Watchers Group.

Miss Selinee Mendez to represent DR in Miss Universe
Internationally successful Dominican model, Selinee Mendez will represent the Dominican Republic in the Miss Universe Pageant to be held during the first week of May in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1996 she won the Top Model of the World contest held in Portugal. This is the first time that the Dominican representative to the Miss Universe contest is not chosen during the national beauty pageant. Miss Mendez herself had placed fourth in the 1996 Miss Dominican Republic contest.
Nerys Díaz, organizer of the Miss Dominican Republic contest, explained that internal changes in the structure of Miss Universe reflected on delays in foreign organization. She explained that the selection committee felt that Miss Mendez had the physical beauty, intellect and experience in international pageants to be a possible winner of the title. Miss Mendez is long-haired, long-limbed, dark skinned and has light-colored eyes.
Díaz explained that the representative in the 1999 Miss Universe and Miss World contests would be chosen in the contest that will be held at a date that will be set from August to October.

Broadcasters stand up for Nelson
Dominican radio broadcasters, members of the Círculo de Locutores, the leading association of radio broadcasters, are threatening to strike if the judiciary does not order the release of broadcaster Nelson Leonardo Reyes imprisoned for his alleged participation in the millionaire fraud against the National Lottery, the government lottery. Extensive press coverage has been given to the scandal that came about after the announcer called out the wrong number, but the judicial authorities have not followed through with the case, most likely because those involved are close to former President Balaguer. Reyes said he was not involved in the fraud, that he just made a mistake. He has been in jail since February 1997 waiting for his case to be heard by the judiciary. He said he is still in jail because he does not have money nor political clout. The fraud involves several influential Partido Reformista Social Cristiano persons that were past administrators or employees at the National Lottery during the Balaguer administration. Most of these have been released without trial.

Big kiss on the mouth could affect politicians aspirations
The nation's most popular merengue singer of all times, Fernando Villalona could have been a victim to TV program host Frederick Martínez "El Pachá." El Pachá reportedly took advantage of Villalona to get his new Sabadasso Saturday TV program off to a bang start. El Pachá gave Villalona, who is running for senator for the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) party for his home town Dajabón, an enthusiastic kiss on the mouth that was televised for all to see. Villalona is a controversial figure, having made negative press for mistreating a former wife and for drug consumption. The Comisión Nacional de Espectáculos Públicos y Radiofonía was prompt to prohibit the replay of the video where El Pachá kisses Vilallona. It also suspended El Pachá from using a microphone on TV/radio for 30 days. José Tejada Gómez of El Siglo newspaper said that Villalona was taken in, was used by the TV producer to catapult his new show. He succeeded, as the photograph with the kiss appeared in page wide spreads in most national dailies. El Pachá also featured Sandy & Papo, Tabu Tek, Los Toros Band, Claudine Bonó, Chichí Peralta and Son Familia on his first day show.
A man kissing another man on the mouth is contrary to Dominican customs.

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