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Daily News - 15 May 1998

Special issue of DR1 on May 17
The DR1 will publish a special edition of the daily news service on Sunday, May 17 with the preliminary results of the 1998 congressional and municipal elections.

All ready for elections
The Junta Central Electoral says all is ready for the 16 May congressional and municipal elections. Dominicans will choose 30 senators, 149 deputies, 115 mayors and 756 city councilmen on Saturday.
The Dominican political system is primarily fractionated in three parties - Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC). In the 1994-1998 Congress, the PLD has one senator, the PRSC has 14 senators and the PRD has 18 senators. In the Chamber of Deputies, the PLD has 13 senators, the PRSC has 50 and the PRD has 57. While the PRSC and the PRD hope to hold on to their shares in Congress, the government PLD party seeks to significantly increase its representation.
The government department in charge of organizing the elections explained that the first results will be presented on TV and radio at 10 pm on Saturday. Juan Sully Bonnelly, president of the Junta Central Electoral, said that the updates on the elections will be issued every two hours.
Some 4,129,554 Dominicans can vote in the 10,174 voting stations all around the country. Some 70,000 persons are employed in the elections organization.
Santo Domingo voters - 1,267,225 citizens - can vote in the 3,067 voting stations in Santo Domingo to choose the city senator, 44 deputies and 88 city councilmen and their replacements. Some 15,000 persons will staff the city voting stations.
Elections in the DR are a tedious process. Women need to line up from 6 to 8 am and later vote from 8:30 to 1 pm. Men vote in the afternoon, having to line up from 1 to 3 pm to later vote from 3:30 to 6 pm.
The key officers, or judges, of the elections are Juan Sully Bonnelly Batlle, Alejandro Asmar Sanchez, Rafael Vallejo Santelises, Luis Mora Guzmán and Cirilo Collado Luna.
Participación Ciudadana, a civic group, criticized what it called the excessive expenditures in television, cable TV and radio propaganda. The group said that in March and April, the PRSC spent RD$7.4 million, the PRD RD$12.3 million and the PLD $18.2 million in advertising.

President talks to the nation
President Leonel Fernández addressed the nation on Thursday evening, encouraging Dominicans to vote. In his speech, he promised he would work closely with whomever Dominicans elect to Congress and city governments.
"Tonight, the eve before the elections in which the legislative houses and municipalities will elect new members, I ratify my calling to work shoulder to shoulder to successfully face the challenges of the present and the future.
"As I have said before, the responsibility of leading the country to reach new stages of development is not a task of a single man, nor of a single party. It is the task and responsibility of all. For that reason, I reiterate my disposition to work together with Congress and the municipalities that result from the Saturday elections in a common agenda that may place the DR firmly on the road to the 21st century," said the President.
In the same speech, the President pointed out that the government needs the support of Congress to pass several bills, including one for social security law, consumer protection, tax exemptions for small business to import machinery, another that would cut present red tape and contraband in Customs, export promotion legislation, intellectual property protection, anti-dumping and a bill that would give property titles to families that have lived for five years on state lands.

Museums close for election day
The Oficina de Patrimonio Cultural, the government department in charge of historic edifices, said that several monuments will close on Saturday, 16 May, election day. The Alcazar de Colón and the Casa del Tostado will be closed in Santo Domingo. The Ponce de León home in San Rafael de Yuma and the Fortaleza of Puerto Plata will remain closed on Saturday.

On Monday, clean up time
The Mayor of Santo Domingo Rafael Suberví has asked President Leonel Fernández to instruct the Armed Forces to help with the giant effort to clean up the city following the 16 May congressional and municipal elections. Mayor Suberví said that municipality brigades will toil to rid the city of political propaganda and unauthorized commercial advertising. Suberví said he expects to hand a clean city to the new mayor on 16 August 1998 when his term ends.

Six military questioned for death of journalist
Six military officers, including four colonels are investigated in different police stations by military court officials in regards to the disappearance of university professor Narciso González, that occurred 26 May 1994.
Police spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Simón Antonio Díaz, said that the police is completing the case record that will be presented to President Leonel Fernández. The President gave security forces a month's time to conclude the case. General Mario Peguero Hermida and Colonel Inocencio Encarnación Dicent are in charge of the investigations.
News commentator Alfredo Freites explained that the case can be a benchmark case because it will set a precedent whereby middle level officers will be held responsible for crimes committed regardless of following orders. Of the detained officers, three were arrested last weekend and three on Thursday.
González disappeared on 26 May 1994 after speaking out against the Balaguer government at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo.

U.S. drug chief to visit
The Listín Diario reported that General Barry McCaffrey, chief of the United States government efforts against drug trafficking, will visit Santo Domingo at the end of May. The chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency will meet with Dominican drug trafficking department heads. The U.S. official seeks to collaborate so that both nations can intensify efforts to impede drug traffickers from using the DR as a bridge to introduce drugs into the United States. The U.S. and D.R. at present have underway the Frontier Lance sea and land operation, but the DEA would like to strengthen this operation and turn it into a permanent one. The DR is a bridge between Colombia-Haiti-DR-Puerto Rico-US.
During his visit here, the U.S. general will meet with President Fernández, Minister of the Armed Forces Vice Admiral Rubén A. Paulino Alvarez, and the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Police. Also, will meet with Rear Admiral Sigfredo Pared, director of the National Department of Investigations; and with Rear Admiral Luis Alberto Humeau Hidalgo, president of the National Drug Control Bureau. Meetings are also scheduled with Judicial Branch and Legislative Branch officers.
This year DR drug combating departments have confiscated almost 1,000 kilos of cocaine.

Dollar continues to drop in value
The peso is gaining against the dollar after having peaked two weeks ago. Then RD$15.65 pesos were needed to purchase a dollar. Press reports indicate that exchange houses are purchasing dollars for upwards of RD$14.30 and selling dollars for RD$15.35. The Central Bank and commercial banks exchange table has established a RD$15.25 ceiling price for dollars. The Central Bank exchange rate continues to be RD$14.02.

New low cost flights to Puerto Plata from New York
Air Atlantic has announced it will fly to New York from Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata. At present, only American Airlines serves the New York-Puerto Plata route. Air Atlantic, a low-cost carrier, will become a lower-cost alternative. The airline already offers bargain fares on their flights to Miami.
Carlos Chevalier, general manager of the company, said that the Santo Domingo-New York-Santo Domingo flights will be carried out on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The airline will fly to New York from Puerto Plata on Thursday and Saturday. The airline also expects to commence flights to Canada and Europe in the future.

Bougainvillea contest in the Colonial City
The Patronato de la Ciudad Colonial de Santo Domingo announced the 1998 version of the annual bougainvillea contest. Registrations to participate in the contest are open in morning hours now through 30 June at the Patronato's offices at Isabel la Católica 103, in front of Columbus Park. The contest is divided into three categories: residential, institutional (government offices, embassies, international agencies and non-profit organizations) and businesses.
"We want the owners of the bougainvillea that dress up windows, balconies, roofs and fences and any other area that can be seen by passersby through the colonial city of Santo Domingo to participate," said Maria Voight of the Patronato.
The jury is made up by Martha Thayer, Sophie Jakowska, Benjamin Paiewonsky, Maria Consuelo Pérez Bernal and José Ramón Núñez. The winners will be announced in September.

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