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Daily News - 07 May 1998

Most likely winner of Santo Domingo government speaks outs
The candidate to mayor for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez said at the American Chamber of Commerce luncheon on 6 May that if he wins the city government, (polls show he leads by 7 points), his priorities will be to resolve the potable water, environment, garbage collecting and civic education problems of Santo Domingo. Peña Gómez was mayor of Santo Domingo from 1982-1986 under the then President Salvador Jorge Blanco administration.
In his talk before the business audience, 62-year old Peña Gómez said that he would work in harmony with his adversaries, the members of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC). Factions within the PRSC and the PRD seem to have an under-the-table agreement in regards to the municipal and congressional elections. The PRSC allied with the PLD in the 1996 presidential elections, leading the PLD to a victory.
"Now that we have better relations with that party, whose candidate to mayor, Rafael Corporán de los Santos, besides being a rival is a decent and considerate person, so we expect the best of understanding between these two political forces, that now have the mission of stopping a party's intent to establish a dictatorship with improvised, immature and violent persons," he said, in apparent reference to the government party, the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana.
Peña explained that in politics, "the foe of today can be the friend of tomorrow, and the other way around." He said this reality explains the respect for each other that the PRSC and the PRD have shown in this campaign, in contrast with the violence of the PLD representatives.
"Because regardless of the crudity of the electoral campaign and the fights that will precede the year 2000 elections, it will be essential that both the municipal executive and the nation's executive be able to place themselves above individual party interests, giving priority to the capital city and the nation that will require the best of understanding and reciprocal cooperation so that good government may come before politics, and not the other way around," he said.
He promised to execute a master urban development plan to order the city's territory.
He also said he would open offices abroad in order to channel the assistance of friendly city halls in the larger cities of Europe and the United States.
"We also propose the quick reconstruction and construction of produce markets, especially in distribution centers to avoid that large trucks enter the center of the city," he said.

Friday, 15 May in the afternoon could be a day off
The Junta Central Electoral has requested that President Leonel Fernández decree that Dominicans need only work half day on 15 May, the day that precedes the 16 May municipal and congressional election day. Many Dominicans need to travel to their home towns to cast their vote. The half day off would facilitate their traveling to their home towns. The Junta Central Electoral also said that the preliminary winners of the 30 senate seats and the 115 city governments will be announced the evening of 16 May. Furthermore, the department said that the preliminary results on the deputy seats in Congress and city councilmen position winners should be known by 17 May. The parties have 48 days to protest the elections before the final proclamations are made by the electoral court.

Efforts to expedite the sale of Viagra here
The Ministry of Public Health said that efforts are being made to expedite the issuing of pharmaceutical registrations. The president of the Association of Representatives, Agents of Pharmaceutical Products, Fernando Ferreiras had denounced that because of the two year delays in the issuing of registrations Dominicans would not be able to purchase the Viagra drug that is said to relieve men of sexual impotence. The Ministry of Public Health told Hoy newspaper that efforts are underway to accelerate the process which will benefit all new pharmaceutical products in general.
Dominican sex therapist Nancy Alvarez said that instead of taking the pill, that is said to have undesirable side effects, men with sexual impotence problems should visit a sex therapist to determine the origin of the problem.

French Minister visits
French Minister of International Cooperation and for the Promotion of French-speaking, Charles Jossellin visited Santo Domingo last week on occasion of the inauguration of the Lycée Française, the French language school of Santo Domingo.
The Minister said that his visit sought to also strengthen the economic relations with the Dominican Republic. During his trip, he will meet with President Leonel Fernández and staff to coordinate details for the official visit of the Dominican statesman to Paris in October.
The Lycée Française is located in the Centro de los Heroes of Santo Domingo. The facility was built on a 10,400 meter lot donated by the Dominican government across from the Caribbean Sea in 1990. Arch. Henri de Mondesert carried out the construction following norms and security requirements established by the Ministry of Education of France. In its 19th year, the center accepts children from pre-kinder to high school and has 375 students. Instruction is primarily in English, and the school has a strong English as a Second Language program. Henri Carassou is the principal of the schools.

CDE to call for tender for the purchase of fuel
The Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad is putting up for bids the fuel it purchases for its power plants. The CDE seeks to save the inter mediation fee it now pays to Shell, Esso, Isla or Texaco that serve as middle men in the purchase of fuel at the present time. The CDE general administrator, Radhamés Segura was previously administrator of the Refinería Dominicana de Petróleo. He acknowledged that 38% of the refining capacity of the Refinería is dedicated to processing fuel oil for CDE power plants and that if the CDE didn't purchase the fuel the refinery would have to close down. Segura feels, though, that it is not fair that locals have to pay a higher cost in order to keep the obsolete plant running. He estimates 10 to 20% savings once the fuel is purchased directly from the producers.

Government institutions will now have to pay for electricity consumed
The administrator of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad, the state electricity utility, said that as of 1 June, electricity counters will be installed in government institutions. The central government so far has subsidized the CDE making payments of RD$200 million a month. Radhamés Segura, general administrator, estimates that government institutions consume upwards of RD$275 million a month in electricity. This figure does not include electricity used for city street lighting. Segura feels the city halls should pay this light bill, because the ground on which the light posts are located is theoretically owned by the municipalities.
Furthermore, Segura says that once the CDE is privatized government institutions will have to pay their electricity bills, so the measure is timely.

Santo Domingo to have its Hollywood boulevard
The Fundación Bulevar de las Estrellas will install on the Ave. Winston Churchill boulevard eight star plaques honoring Dominican show business stars. The first eight stars to be honored are Freddy Beras Goico, Johnny Ventura, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Alberto Hernández, Monina Solá, and the late Eduardo Brito, Casandra Damirón, and María Montez. The stars are said to cost RD$30,000 each. The artists will be honored with their stars on Friday, 8 May shortly after the 6 pm inauguration of the RD$26 million boulevard built in the administrator of Mayor Rafael Suberví Bonilla. Suberví is a former Minister of Tourism who is now opting to be a congressman for his home town of Barahona. He aspires to be President of the Republic some time in the future. Transfusion and Tabu Teck rock groups Los Toros Band merengue orchestra will perform on occasion of the formal opening of the tree-studded boulevard. The event will be transmitted nationwide by RTVD. The Fundación Bulevar de las Estrellas is in charge of every year choosing eight to 10 artists from television, music, radio, theater, movies and the plastic arts. Journalist Carlos Batista Matos is in charge of the selection committee.

No left turn on Abraham Lincoln and 27 de Febrero
Ministry of Public Works announced that left turns will no longer be allowed on the intersection of 27 de Febrero and Abraham Lincoln now that excavations for the underpass that is under construction below those avenues are advancing. Drivers need to take the alternate routes of the Bolivar, Mexico, and Pedro Henríquez Ureña, Boy Scouts and Del Seminario streets. West-East traffic and North-South traffic continues normally.

Peso gains against the U.S. dollar
Dominican banks and exchange houses are buying dollars for a spread from RD$14.35 to RD$15.25, according to press reports. The dollar is losing strength against the peso, declining some 15 points yesterday. Pesos are being sold for a maximum price of RD$15.48, while banks are offering a maximum of RD$15.25 per dollar. The Central Bank official exchange rate continues to be RD$14.02.

Dominicans feel they are worse off
Sigma 2, a prestigious Spanish poll group, carried out a survey from 16-20 April whereby 60% of the 1,254 Dominicans over 18 years old surveyed said they feel they are worse off money-wise today than they were in 1996 when the Fernández administration took over the government. 19.3% of those interviewed feels the economic situation has stayed the same, while only 20% feel it has improved. This contrasts with macroeconomic figures from the Central Bank. In 1997, Central Bank data indicates that the Dominican economy grew 8.2%, the highest growth figure of the Gross Domestic Product for any Latin American nation in 1997. The Central Bank has forecast a growth of the GDP for 1998 of 7.1%. Inflation was 0.13% in the first trimester, and the Central Bank forecasts year's end accumulated inflation will be around 5%.

Sports complex for Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata has a new sports complex. The RD$64 million facility, Polideportivo Gregorio Luperon consists of a multi-use sports facility, a multi-discipline facility, a soccer field, a ticket sales house, and parking areas built on an extension of 21,882.54 square meters. Construction of the complex was begun in 1994 under the government of former President Balaguer but was completed this year. The largest of the sports pavilions has a capacity for 5,300 seated persons. The facilities will be used for soccer, basketball, volleyball, and many other sports, social and cultural events.

Sports visa scheme
The National Police confirmed it is about to present to justice the case of a mafia that obtained visas that involved the Dominican Olympic Committee. Hoy newspaper reported that the mafia issued false letters of invitation to sports events from supposed sports institutions in Puerto Rico and the United States that were presented to the U.S. Consulate with the fraudulent endorsement of the Dominican Olympic Committee. The scheme was uncovered when a U.S. consul asked a supposed volleyball team player a technical question that the team player answered incorrectly. The group was requesting visas to attend the inexistent Women's Volleyball Cup of the Caribbean that would be held 11-12 April in Michigan. Hoy newspaper says that a prominent politician from the interior of the country is involved in the fraud. The mafia had been successfully securing visas since early last year.

Copelia at the National Theater
With the presentation of the Copelia ballet at the National Theater, students of the Magda Corbett ballet school will honor their professor on occasion of her 50 years of teaching in the Dominican Republic. Special guest performers for the ballet are award-winning Armando González and Michelle Jiménez, first dancers of the Ballet Clasico Nacional. Also performing are Michelle Paniagua, a Magda Corbett student who has gone on to a career as a dancer abroad; Rebeca Barger, a soloist of the National Ballet of Cuba, and dancers from Colombia. The ballet will be staged this weekend, 8-10 May at the National Theater.

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