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Daily News - 26 May 1998

Wear your helmets
The public relations officer of the government said that the Police is again detaining motorcyclists driving without helmets. At the end of 1997 and beginning of 1998, over 9,000 motorcyclists were detained for not wearing their protective helmets, which sent thousands to stores to purchase the helmets. Nevertheless, the police grew lax and Dominicans stopped wearing the helmets. Others would hang their helmets on the handle bars. This week the Police says over 300 motorcyclists have been detained and obliged to leave their motorcycles at the police headquarters and return with their helmets.

Pedestrian bridges over the 27 de Febrero
Deputy Minister of Public Works Claudia Francheska de los Santos said that the government will build six pedestrian bridges over the 27 de Febrero Avenue. The avenue, that crosses Santo Domingo East-West, is under total renovation by the government. As part of the reconstruction, three underpasses (tunnels) are being built under the Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Máximo Gómez avenues and the avenue is being expanded to ten lanes, with the center grass and tree walk having been removed. The RD$3 million each pedestrian bridges will be located one between Abraham Lincoln and Tiradentes, two between Winston Churchill and Dr. Defilló and three between Churchill with Lincoln. Pedestrians will also be able to cross at the traffic light intersections.
The Ministry also announced that the government will be investing RD$22 million to renovate the Gustavo Mejía Ricart Street an important East-West crossway that connects the West of the capital city with the new commercial section of Santo Domingo.

Hatuey de Camps interviewed
Hatuey de Camps, Secretary General of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), was interviewed in the Listín Diario.
Following are some of his responses to the questions.
On what he would be willing to sacrifice to be President of the country, he said: "I never would sacrifice my principles. I am a coherent man. I have 37 years of militancy in the PRD and have not been a member of another party. I am fulfilled and have always proceeded by the dictates of my conscience, which is the best way to proceed. I believe that in a society such as this one has to govern with and for the different sectors and that absolutism is past history."
When asked if he considers himself the heir of the late party leader, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, he said:
"No. That happens with monarchies and we don't have them here. Nobody can wear the boots of Jose Francisco Peña Gómez. He was exceptional. It has cost me lots of work to reach the political position where I am at now. If I have a front line position, it is not because I have wanted it, it is because others that should have been there were not. I could have spent my time in the countryside, at a beach instead of dedicating myself full time to politics. I am more mature than many, because of the years I have been involved in politics, nevertheless, I do not despair. But let no one be confused, I am not excluding myself. I have not been hand picked to the position where I am. I have won it many times over."
As to the PRD dominating in the Congress, and the PLD in the Executive Branch, and how this would be dealt with, he said:
"We are obliged, for the country, to cohabit. In this country there cannot be a divorce between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch. There can be interpretations, discussions and different points of view, but necessarily the two branches of government have to cohabit. We have to do what is in the convenience of the country."

DR textile industry hurting
The Dominican Republic is suffering under the effects of the Asian devaluation. The most benefited nations are Mexico (that recently also devalued its currency) and Israel that have free trade agreements with the US. Asian countries that have devaluated their currency are also benefiting with an increase in production orders. Dominican Republic ambassador in the US, Bernardo Vega says that the Caribbean region, and the DR as the largest exporter of apparel, are the big losers.
In a contribution to the Listín Diario newspaper, Vega points out that U.S. imports of apparel and materials increased 4% in 1996, 18% in 1997 and 13% during the first two months of 1998, compared to the first two months of the year.
During this time, Mexico has grown to become the principal supplier of apparel to the US, with exports increasing 42% in 1996, 38% in 1997 and 25% in the first two months of 1998. Israel has also experimented considerable growth, with exports increasing 41% in 1997 and 23% during the first two months of 1998.
Asian nations that have devaluated their currency have seen considerable increases in exports. For instance, Indonesian apparel exports grew 26% during the first two months, Thailand grew 25%. Indonesia is now the fifth largest supplier of the United States and Thailand, the ninth.
Neither Continental China, the second largest supplier after Mexico, nor Hong Kong have devaluated their currencies, and their exports have maintained at the same levels.
In 1996 Dominican exports grew 1%, in 1997 these grew 21%, but during the first two months of 1998, exports declined 4%, reflecting the effect of Mexican and Asian devaluations.
The DR in 1997 was the ninth largest exporter of textiles to US, but there is concern given its slow growth that it could lose market share as Mexico, Israel and Asia are attracting orders that in the past were granted to Dominican free zones.
Vega explains that Jamaica has been the big loser. Exports dropped 5% in 1997 and 7% during the first two months. Jamaica is ranked 24th in apparel exports to the United States.
Caribbean and Central American countries have lobbied before U.S. Congress for the passing of the textile parity bill that would give regional producers equal treatment with Mexico. But this has not happened.
Vega says that the situation affects Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Furthermore, he points out that the passing of the textile parity bill would have a very positive effect on the economy of Haiti and the well being of its inhabitants. Haiti, has bounced back from an almost non-existent manufacturing industry following the political crisis. In 1996, Haitian textile exports grew 19%, in 1997 these again increased 56% and they are up 63% for the first two months of 1998. Export levels are still well below the levels of 1989, prior to the political crisis.
In 1983, Dominican textile exports were only US$56 million more than those of Haiti, while today the difference is US$2,045.7 million dollars.
Vega points out that there are only 42 days left for the U.S. Congress to pass the textile parity bill that would place the DR and other Caribbean and Central American countries at equal standing to Mexico and Israel. The 272 textile industries in the Dominican Republic employ 132,000, with a 3-2 ratio favoring women.
Vega advocates that it is in the best interest of the United States for the U.S. Congress to approve the bill. He said that contrary to Israel and Asian manufacturers, Caribbean and Central American free zones import U.S. fabric for their apparel assembly operations.

Here come the Cuban coaches
The president of the Dominican Olympic Committee, Dr. José Joaquín Puello said that 47 Cuban coaches are expected today, the first group of 57 that were hired by the Dominican government. Of the group, 19 will immediately start work helping to coach the national team that will compete in the Central American and Caribbean Games scheduled for Maracaibo, Venezuela this summer. Twenty-eight others will be assigned work in the provinces - La Romana, San Pedro de Macorís, Santiago and Mao. The Dominican government will be disbursing RD$500,000 to pay for the coaches. Most of this money will be sent to the Cuban government.

Color Visión says they did not apply censorship
Manolo Quiroz of Color Visión, said the channel did not air "Nuria en el 9" last Saturday because the video of the program arrived past the deadline for the station check. He said the station revises the programming for sound and image quality and other technical aspects. He said when the decision was made, the material had not even been seen, and thus he denied there had been censorship. TV producer Nuria Piera said the station had been "disconsiderate." They were not advised in time to fill in the void with a repeat of an older program. The program that would have been aired was a dramatization of the assassination of 12-year old José Rafael Llenas Aybar.

Isha and Angel Puello deny they are divorcing
Angel Puello and TV show star Isha denied they are getting divorced, as speculated in the Listín Diario yesterday and reported on DR1. They did confirm that Isha's father, Rafael Aracena resigned his post as general manager of Promovisión, the production company. "Nobody, absolutely nobody, is free of differences in matrimony and even divorcing, but that is not our case, right now," said Angel Puello.

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