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Daily News - 19 May 1998

PLD strategist asks PRD not to fire PRSC government employees
Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina requested that the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano be "generous in their victory," and not fire thousands of Reformistas (PRSC party members) employed in the Reformista city governments throughout the country. In the 16 May 1998 muncipal elections, the PRSC lost control of the municipalities of Santiago, San Cristóbal, San Francisco de Macorís, San Juan de la Maguana, La Vega, La Romana, Bayaguana, Puerto Plata, Salcedo and San Juan. Medina, in a headline story published by Hoy newspaper, said that the PRD should do as the PLD did in 1996 when it won the presidential elections, and did not displace the thousands of Reformista public employees. The PLD administration succeeded a PRSC administration.

Danilo Medina says PLD is better off now than before
Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina, who is one of the principal political strategists for the government party, said that the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano won with the elections with a majority of the minority. He referred to the unusually high abstention among voters in the 1998 municipal and congressional elections. "The PRD won with only 25% of possible voters," said Medina.
Medina said that while the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana did worse than they expected, the party actually tripled its participation in Congress. And the party now has the right to veto bills passed by Congress.
Medina explained that the composition of the National Congress is more favorable now for the government than during the Fernandez administration's first two years. Instead of having to negotiate with two political parties - the PRD and the PRSC that shared the majority in Congress - now the government party will only have to reach agreements with the PRD, which has the absolute majority in both houses.

Group differences within the PRD surface already
The first differences in the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano became apparent yesterday, according to Hoy newspaper's front page headlines. Reportedly, the late leader of the party, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, had asked that the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies be granted to Miguel Sanz Jiminián, elected deputy for Santo Domingo for the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano. Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, leader of the PRSC, subtly supported the PRD at the end of the campaign. Tony Raful, acting president of the PRD favors Sanz Jiminián, who is the present president of the municipality of Santo Domingo, becoming the president of the Chamber of Deputies, once the new legislature opens in August. But PRD party secretary general Hatuey de Camps opposes this, saying that the presidency of the lower house should be granted to a PRD deputy. The differences are newsworthy, as one of the major challenges the PRD has ahead is maintaining cohesion and not dividing into different factions, as has frequently occurred in the past. Several party leaders aspire to be the party's presidential candidate for the year 2000 elections, and thus the internal friction.
Meanwhile, Dr. Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero, president of the party, said that the lack of unity could impede the party from repeating during the year 2000 presidential election, the victory obtained in the municipal and congressional elections. He warned that whoever affects the party's unity will be considered a traitor, regardless of who that person is.

JCE will announce final results 20 May
The Junta Central Electoral explained that the suspension of the vote count with Bulletin 11 was the result of an agreement the electoral court reached with the political parties. All sectors were tired, and needed the rest. Some 566 voting stations are missing to be counted, of which 488 are in the National District (Santo Domingo). The JCE said they expect to have the total preliminary results by Wednesday, 20 May. The missing tables are not expected to affect the present outcome.

PRD senators-elect are against taxes, but will collaborate with central government
The senators-elect of the PRD and the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo political alliance told El Siglo newspaper they will not confront the Executive Branch in Congress. Rather, they say, they will strive for permanent dialogue and a consensus style politics. Senators-elect Fernando Alvarez Bogaert (Valverde), José Rafael Abinader (Santiago), Antonio del Villar (San Juan de la Maguana), Ginette Bournigal (Puerto Plata) and Dagoberto Rodríguez Adames (Independencia) nevertheless said they will not pass proposals to create new taxes. The Fernández administration seeks to pass a bill that would reform the tariffs law, reducing these. Concurrently, the government wants Congress to pass a bill that would increase sales taxes to compensate for the loss of government income as a result of lower import taxes.

Cleaning up the city
The municipality of Santo Domingo began a massive effort to rid the city of electoral propaganda. Municipality workers combed the principal avenues and streets of Santo Domingo taking down the hundreds of posters that were posted by candidates for the 1998 municipal and congressional elections. The clean-up job will give a new lighter air to the city.

Honoring the efforts of Dominican students
President Leonel Fernández will recognize scholastic efforts of 128 students from elementary and secondary schools. These are being honored for their high grades as part of the Program to Recognize Meritorious Students, of the Ministry of Education and the Presidency. President Leonel Fernández himself, in a ceremony at the National Palace, will hand the children their awards on 20 May. This time, the 10-year old daughter of the president, Nicole Fernandez Domínguez, who studies at the Instituto San Juan Bautista, will be among the winners of the award. The ceremony is extensively photographed and publicized by the Dominican press. The students later participate in a luncheon at the Arcadas amusement park.

Two new power plants to go on-line
The government will inaugurate on Wednesday, 20 May two new turbogas plants that will go on-line as part of the government power generators. The two power plants, capable of generating 34.5 megawatts each, are installed at the Itabo Power Plant of the CDE, west of Santo Domingo. The power plants are part of a group of five purchased from the French company, GEC Alsthom. The incorporation of the two new plants will give stability to the power generation availability in the Dominican Republic, considerably reducing blackouts.

Free zone exports to increase
Gabriel Castro, director of the Consejo Nacional de Zonas Francas, told El Siglo newspaper that industrial free zone exports to the United States will increase to US$3,000 million this year, generating upwards of US$850 million for the Dominican economy.

An overpass for the turn to Las Americas airport
Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña has announced the government will build an overpass on Las Americas highway to facilitate traffic crossing or turning through the highway to enter Las Americas International Airport. The overpass will have two bridges 700 meters long and 400 meters wide.

Cruise ship tourism increases
The Ministry of Tourism reported that, in the first third of the year, 129,089 tourists have visited Santo Domingo, entering by maritime ports. Of these, 55,011 stayed for more than 24 hours. Official statistics indicate that 47,106 were from the United States, 20,663 were Italians, 20,259, Canadians, 17,766, Germans, and 3,789, British. The ships making the most trips to this country were the Aida, Esmerald, and Norwegian which docked 16 times; the Flamenco, 15 times; the Inspiration, 14 times; the Island Breeze and the Bolero, 12 times; and the Melody, 4 times. The Arkona, Vistamar and Berlin visited twice. The Seabreeze and the Black Watch came only once. Cruise ships dock at Sans Souci and Avenida del Puerto.

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