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Daily News - 29 June 1998

President Samper of Colombia visits
The outgoing President of Colombia, Ernesto Samper completed a 24 hour official visit to the Dominican Republic over the weekend. This is the 11th President that visits the DR during the presidency of President Leonel Fernández that began 16 August 1996.
President Samper arrived Saturday afternoon and departed Sunday afternoon on a Colombian Air Force jet. He was accompanied by his wife and a son. With him were also Hector Cintura, of the legal department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Alfredo Vargas, Minister for Justice and Law; Sandra Peñaloza Cuevas, District Attorney of the Nation, and Clara Amelia Castillo, Bank Superintendent.
During his visit, he committed the Colombian government to sell petroleum products and cooperate in judicial matters regarding to money laundering. The Colombian government will also provide assistance to the National Library.
The Acuerdo Interinstitucional de Cooperación Energética y Financiera covers the supply of coal and petroleum to Dominican power plants. The Colombian government will grant a credit of 20% on paid bills to be used to purchase Colombian goods and services.
President Ernesto Samper said that Colombian investors are interested in financing the construction of thermoelectric plants that use coal. These would have lower production costs than most of those operating at the present time in the DR.
President Leonel Fernández decorated President Samper with the highest honor granted by the Dominican government, the Orden al Mérito de Duarte, Sánchez y Mella, Gran Cruz Placa de Oro. President Samper reciprocated, decorating President Fernández with the Order of San Carlos, Grand Collar category.
In his acceptance speech of the decoration, the President of Colombia said that until industrialized countries reduce their illegal drug consumption, the trafficking of drugs will continue to be a very attractive business.
Presidential candidate and former minister of foreign affairs of Colombia, Noemí Sanín, said in Madrid while President Samper was in Santo Domingo that the latter should be taken to court at the end of his presidency.

Ecuador and DR bilateral agreements
The governments of Ecuador and the Dominican Republic signed several cooperation agreements last week after the third meeting of the bilateral commission held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santo Domingo. Both nations reached agreements in the areas of health, tobacco industry, industrial free zones, tourism, fishing and handicrafts.
Ecuador supports the DR that seeks to be admitted to the Grupo de Río. Furthermore, Ecuador seeks a bilateral aviation treaty with the DR.

PRD says it will choose its candidate in February
The political committee of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, the most voted in the year 1996 presidential elections and the 1998 congressional and municipal elections, announced it will elect its presidential candidate for the election of year 2000 in mid February 1999. Previously the party will carry out a restructuring of the board of the party. The decisions were reached during a workshop held at the Hotel Hamaca over the weekend. The early choice of the PRD candidate is likely to bring about an early selection of the PLD and PRSC candidates, and thus an early opening of political activities in the DR.

Death of Peña had little effect on PRD vote
According to an analysis of the results of the Hamilton & Staff poll commissioned by Hoy newspaper, the death of Partido Revolucionario Dominicano leader, Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, who was running for mayor of Santo Domingo in those elections, shortly before the elections, had little effect on the final poll results. 32% of PRD members abstained from voting in those elections, a high abstention rate by Dominican standards. In the past elections, of 4,129,554 voters, only 2,093,488 or 50.7%, for a 49.3% abstention, very high by Dominican standards. The survey showed most Dominicans didn't vote because the polling stations were far away or they did not feel strongly about any of the contenders.

PRD most likely candidates to president
Senator re-elect for Santo Domingo, Milagros Ortíz Bosch is the favorite to obtain the presidential candidacy of the PRD in year 2000, 43 of every 100 citizens responded to a Hamilton & Staff poll commissioned by Hoy newspaper. Ortíz leads Hipólito Mejía by 22 points. Mejía had proposed that she be his vice presidential candidate in the year 2000 elections. Hatuey Decamps is third, with 9% of the preferences. Other contenders for running for president on the PRD ticket are Santo Domingo Mayor Rafael Suberví Bonilla, now congressman-elect for Barahona, and Ramón Alburquerque, senator for Monte Plata and PRD candidate to preside the Senate from 1998-2002. Suberví and Alburquerque tied with 6 of the favor of voters. The survey took place 5 to 12 June throughout the country.

Balaguer's beloved dog dies
Columnist Orlando Gil of Hoy reported that former President Joaquín Balaguer is mourning the death of his beloved Collie, Bobby. Bobby died of old age. The former statesman is known for his devotion to his collies. The nonagenarian has written about the nobility of dogs versus humans. He explains that at the most critical moments of his life, he has always had one of his dogs at his side.

All tickets sold for ferry to DR from Puerto Rico
The promoters of the ferry between Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and Sans Souci Terminal at Santo Domingo Port announced that all spaces on the inaugural voyage of the ship were booked out two days after they went up for sale in Puerto Rico, even despite the telephone company strike. The tickets will cost US$78-US$118 for the 12 hour journey. The "Regal Voyager" will makes its inaugural voyage on Wednesday, 1 July departing from the Port of Mayaguez.

Presidente Music Festival was an overwhelming success
Larger than expected crowds made the Presidente Latin Music Festival an overwhelming success over the weekend. The festival is known as the principal of its kind held in the Caribbean every year. The press estimated a first night attendance of 60,000, a new record for the Olympic Stadium. Second and third night attendance were estimated at around 50,000.
Thousands turned up to listen to Ricky Martin, Alejandro Fernández, Juan Gabriel, Carlos Vives, Fernando Villalona, Azúcar Moreno, Los Rosario, Milly Quezada, Victor Manuelle, Grupo Maná, DGL, Grupo Niche and Jerry Rivera.
Press reports say that the best performances were those of Fernando Villalona and Alejandro Fernández.
On the downside, the sound was not as good as last year, and there continued to be problems with long slow lines entering the Olympic Stadium. Some persons couldn't get in despite having tickets.
The Festival is part of the overall marketing strategy of Presidente as it penetrates international markets. President had US$20 million in beer sales in the US last year. The company first began selling in Miami and New York and now Presidente beer is popular in New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut and Boston. Estimated beer sales by Latins in those areas is 80 liters per capita.
Presidente has 95% of the beer sales in this country. In the Dominican Republic some 30 liters per capita of beer are consumed, or 220 million liters a year. Venezuela consumes 60 liters per person, Puerto Rico 70 liters, and Belgium 150 liters, as per a report in the Listin Diario.

Marcel Marceau to perform at National Theater
Marcel Marceau, the genius French mime, has scheduled a rare foreign performance at the National Theater of Santo Domingo. The 75 year old French legend is slated to perform 28 July. Marceau's pantomime school is subsidized by the French government since 1979 and he spends most of his time teaching his art in France. His performance here will be a benefit in favor of the health programs for the poor carried out by the Corazones Unidos foundation.

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