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Daily News - 25 June 1998

President Samper to sign agreements in DR
The outgoing President of Colombia, Ernesto Samper will visit the Dominican Republic to sign agreements in the areas of energy, justice and culture. The Colombian government has accepted to sell petroleum to the Dominican Republic under the same conditions as Mexico and Venezuela offer. These nations, under the Agreement of San José, allot the DR a US$0.20 credit per dollar paid. The Colombian government will also provide judicial assistance in criminal matters to the Dominican judiciary. The Colombians agreed to assist the National Library.

More opposition for hospital grounds towers
The Senate has joined those that oppose the announced construction of nine 22-floor luxury apartment towers on grounds of the Plaza de la Salud. Proposed by the Minister of Public Works, the luxury apartments would be sold to members of the government party, at cost. The Senate approved a bill that grants authority to the board that manages the Plaza de Salud to determine what is built there. Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez, presides the board and strongly opposes the construction of the towers. Former President Joaquín Balaguer also opposes the construction of the towers arguing that it would be detrimental to the development of the center, which was conceived as the most modern and important medical center of the Caribbean.

Senate legislates for the elderly
The Senate passed in first reading a bill that would create the Código para la Protección de la Persona Envejeciente, a set of rules and dispositions that seek to benefit persons over 75 years old. The bill was presented by senators Eduardo Estrella (PRSC-Santiago), Milagros Ortiz Bosch (PRD-Santo Domingo), Manuel Bello (PRSC-San Juan de la Maguana) and Dagoberto Rodríguez Adames (PRD-Independencia). The bill creates the Consejo Nacional de la Persona Envejeciente, a council that would create measures in favor of senior citizens.
Dominicans are thinking ahead. With a population of eight million people, 50% of which are under 18 years, the Dominican Republic right now does not have a large population of older people. But demographers say that come year 2025, 14.3% of the population or 1,670,000 Dominicans will be over 60 years.
At present, elderly Dominicans depend on one of their children caring for them in their old age. New institutions, though, are being forced to aid the elderly, such as Ala Dominicana (Apoyo al Anciano) that works with over 300 impoverished persons of more than 60 years that reside in low income barrios.
The Ministry of Health indicates that there are 521,000 people over 60 years in the Dominican Republic, or 6.3% of the population.

Customs law is not passed
Senators of the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo, affiliated to the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), left the congressional session on Wednesday breaking the quorum and making it impossible for the General Bill of Customs to be passed. Tony Rivera (PRSC-La Vega) said that all sectors that are affected by the bill had reached a consensus on the bill. Darío Gómez, speaking for the dissenting senators, said the senators of the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo felt that they had not time enough to study the bill. The bill would expedite red tape and permit merchandise to exit customs in 24 hours.

Cargo transport union clashes with the Police
The strong port cargo transport unions tried to impose their will by striking for 24 hours at the ports of the country. The Police was called in to dislodge the truckers that had parked their vehicles along the port accessways to force the fulfillment of the strike. The truckers want to be included in the government port privatization discussions.
The Police arrested 170 protesters and broke windows of trucks impeding access so that these could be towed away.
Diogenes Castillo, president of the Federación Nacional de Transportistas Dominicanos, condemned the police repression and said that the truckers would not allow to happen to them what they say has happened to the bus owners. He was referring to the latter's displacement from their positions of czars of the routes along several of the main city highways. Anyone wanting to operate a bus on those routes had to pay the unions for the right to transit or risk physical damages to the vehicle.

AIDS is a problem in DR
A United Nations study shows that the incidence of AIDS per capita in the Dominican Republic is fourth in the Caribbean. According to the UN, some 81,000 persons suffer from AIDS, or 1.89% of the population. Haiti is the most affected country in the Caribbean, with 5.17% followed by Bahamas with 3.77% and Barbados with 2.89%. Cuba has the lowest incidence of AIDS with 0.02%.

Dominican makes it into NBA in first draft
Twenty-three year old Dominican Luis Felipe López was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the draft of the National Basketball Association. Nevertheless, he will begin his professional basketball career with the Grizzlies of Vancouver. Shortly after his draft, the San Antonio Spurs traded him. The draft took place last night in Vancouver, Canada. López is the fifth Dominican to be chosen by a NBA team. But he is the only one to be picked in the first draft. He was selected 24th of 29 players.
Prior to him, Hugo Cabrera was signed by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1976. Frank Rodríguez by the San Antonio Spurs in 1984, José Vargas by the Dallas Mavericks. Alfredo Horford by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1987.
López played collegiate basketball with St. John's University of New York. He made the All Stars team of the Big East Conference in his last season with the Red Storm team. He has made the cover of Sport Illustrated magazine and has just graduated in tourism administration.
He will have earnings of US$555,900 in his first year, US$639,300 in this second year and US$722,700 in his third year.

Sammy Sosa continues his batting streak
Sammy Sosa tied Rudy York's 1937 record of the most home runs in a month in the Major Leagues when he batted his 18th homer in June on Wednesday, 24 June. This season he has batted 31 home runs. Sosa also established a new National League record of most homers in a month. Sosa is only three behind the season's home run leader, Mark McGwire who has 34. Sammy Sosa has hit a home run 22 times in the past 25 games he has played.

Pan American basketball tournament in Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata will host the Torneo Panamericano de Baloncesto Juvenil from 4-11 July. The modern sports palace inaugurated on 7 May by President Fernández will be the site of the event. Eight countries will come seeking the four slots to travel to the world games in Portugal, in July 1999. Dominican players will match players from Brazil, the US, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela. The Brazilians won the South American tournament held in June, Argentina was second and Venezuela third. The DR just won the Central American and Caribbean tournament, with Cuba second and Mexico in third place. The US and Canada classify automatically. The event is organized by the Panamerican Confederation of Basketball.
The Puerto Plata sports palace was built to specifications of the International Basketball Federation and the NBA. It has seating capacity for 5,300 persons.
The teams of Argentina, Brazil and Canada are expected in the DR next week to compete against the DR from 30 June to 3 July in Santiago and Moca sports arenas.

Dominicana qualifies for world baseball games
The Dominican Republic made it to the finals of the World Baseball Championships scheduled for July in Italy. The Dominican team defeated Venezuela 6-2 in the game on Wednesday. Pitcher Pedro Ruiz was the hero of the game.

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