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Daily News - 17 July 1998

Evaluating the Dominican economy
President Leonel Fernández will be in La Romana this weekend to participate in a workshop during which the behavior of the Dominican economy in the past two years will be evaluated. Representatives from international organizations, such as the World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank and the US Agency for International Development will bes participating in the workshop. The president of the Interamerican Development bank, Enrique Iglesias will be attending. With the IDB the government will sign a cooperation agreement to start the reform of the financial sector, announced Technical Secretary Temístocles Montás. Vice President Jaime David Fernández Mirabal and the members of the economic team will also attend the La Romana work sessions.

Samana airport to be in operation by August?
Work is advancing on the completion of the first stage of the Arroyo Barril Airport in Samaná. The Oficina de Ingenieros Supervisores de Obras del Estado, the office of the Presidency that supervises government constructions announced that the works could be finished by 5 August if the weather allows. Work is advanced on the extension of the runway from 1,160 lineal meters to 1,300 meters. Engineer Ernesto Musa said that the runway can accommodate small airplanes with capacity for 70 to 80 passengers. The airport is said to be just perfect for Samana, which at the moment has a large number of small hotels. In a second phase, the runway is planned to be extended to 3,000 meters.

Major training program for public school teachers
The Fernández administration signed an agreement with 15 universities and six high schools to train some 30,000 public school teachers. The program will last through year 2005 and the goal is that by then, 80% of public school teachers will have university education levels. The program will cost upwards of RD$70 million. During the signing of the agreement with the universities, President Leonel Fernández told the educational sector that in the future increases in salaries will be based on merit. He said he feels it is not right that all teachers be treated the same when there are some that work harder and strive to stay ahead of their students. Minister of Education Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona represented the state educational sector.

La Romana to get new sports facilities
The government will build a softball stadium, a 400-meter running track, a 50-meter swimming pool, a gymnasium pavilion, four tennis courts and a villa-hotel for the athletes in La Romana during the next 12 months. La Romana is site of the 12th National Sports Games that will take place in August 1999. The baseball events will be played at the Francisco Micheli Stadium, while volleyball and basketball will take place at the multi-sports facility of the provincial capital. The government estimates the construction of sports facilities will cost RD$105 million.
The Organizing committee of the Games is presided by Jose Reyes. Other members are Federico Baez, Bienvenido Solano, Danilo Aquino, Felipe Payano, Fermín Castro, Rafael Torres, Teodoro Ursino Reyes, Jose Napoleón Domínguez, Arturo Morales, José Manuel Camarena, Miguel Infante, Arturo Gil, Frank Micheli, Daniel Flaquer, Enrique Martínez, Enrique Seijas, Andres Cristóbal Melo, Carlos Morales Troncoso, Francisco Jose Torres, Simón Lizardo and Diandino Peña.

Import revenues up
Government revenues by way of the Department of Customs are up 20%, according to a report from the director general of Customs. During the first semester of 1997 RD$4,153 million was collected in import taxes. These increased to RD$4,900 million during the first semester of 1998. The department attributes the increase to the honesty, efficiency and transparency of procedures now in place at the department.

Opposition party says government owes 1/3 National Budget
The Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) denounced that the internal public debt of the Fernández administration adds up to more than RD$16,000 million, over a third of the present National Budget. Dr. Donald Reid Cabral, acting president of the organization, called "alarming" the high level of what the government owes. The present National Budget is RD$38.7 million. He recommended that the government use 60% of the surplus of tax collections over what was budgeted to reduce the debt.

Three women arrested for fraud at Jaragua Casino
The police arrested three women accusing these of the theft of more than RD$3 million from the Hotel Jaragua casino. One of the women was especially suspicious as she had recently purchased a RD$800,000 home and a new car. The women would place boxes over the moneys and then hide the moneys in their underwear, evading the television cameras above.

Canadian minister feels DR diplomatic leadership could help Cuba
The Canadian Minister of National Revenue, Herb Dhaliwal, in an exclusive interview with the Listín Diario, said, that the leadership of the DR can contribute to internal political changes in Cuba. The Canadian tax minister said that the United States is already convinced that the trade blockade dating back to the 60s, has not worked in 30 years, and will not work in the future. The Minister told the newspaper that the opening of full diplomatic relations by the DR with Cuba is positive. He congratulated President Fernández for his initiative and said that the Canadian government believes that President Fernández can play an important role of leadership in this process that they hope will extend to all of the Americas. In his opinion, the blockade will not produce the desired results, and he said they trust that moves such as those made by the Dominican President, will be much more beneficial, and will eventually bring about the changes sought for Cuba. He said they are along the same lines of fostering talk, opening and exchange promoted by the Canadian government to secure more freedom and respect for human rights within Cuba. He emphasized that it is by opening up to Cuba, and creating bridges, not by lifting walls to enclose the nation, that changes will come about.
During his stay in the Dominican Republic, from 15 July through 19 July, he met with President Leonel Fernández and with the Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre.
Herb Dhaliwal was in the Dominican Republic on occasion of the opening of the new offices of the Canadian Embassy at Capitán Eugenio de Marchena No. 39 (email: [email protected]). The ambassador for the DR is based in Caracas, Venezuela. But it is expected that in the near future the Government of Canada will appoint an ambassador to be based in Santo Domingo.
In recent years, the number of Canadian tourists to the DR has fluctuated from a low 125,000 to a high 200,000. In 1997, some 150,000 Canadian tourists visited.
Canadian investments in the DR account to more than US$500 million, placing that nation as the third largest investor and the largest outside of free zones.
In 1997, Canada exported more than US$80 million in merchandise to the DR and imported US$109 million in Dominican merchandise. DR is the fourth largest market in the Caribbean for Canadian goods.
An estimated 5,000 Canadians live in the DR, and some 20,000 Dominicans live in Canada.
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre met with the Minster of Foreign Relations of Canada Lloyd Axworthy in late May in Canada.

Family insists Castro is son of a Dominican woman
Angela Peña, the investigative reporter for Hoy newspaper, in a telephone interview with Juanita Castro, the sister of President of Cuba Fidel Castro Ruz who lives in Miami, denied that she and her brothers are related to Dominicans living in Baní, Peravia. Members of the Familia Pimentel Ortíz of Baní insist that the mother of the Cuban governor, Irene Castro was from Baní. The family is sure that their aunt Irene Castro traveled to Cuba where she married Fidel Castro's Spanish father. Fidel Castro's origins are uncertain. Microsoft's Encarta Enciclopedia (1997) states that Castro was born 13 August 1927 in Mayari, Cuba. It also states that he is the bastard son of a Spanish immigrant who worked as a sugar farmer. The names of his parents are not named though, as reported by the Hoy journalist.
Fidel Castro will visit the DR on 20 August of this year.

Travel from DR to cost more
Airline tickets issued in the Dominican Republic now cost about 13% more as a result of the devaluation of the Dominican peso by the Central Bank. Prior to the devaluation, the government authorized airlines to apply a RD$13.60 rate to the calculation of airfares in Dominican pesos. The government increased this to RD$15.35 this week, almost a 13% increase.
The Dominican Association of Travel Agents (ADAVIT) urged the Presidency to promulgate the bill approved by Congress in June that reduces the tax on airline tickets from 20% to 10%. The reduction in the tax would balance out the negative effect of the devaluation on the cost of travel originating in the Dominican Republic.
Several travelers get around the higher cost of the tickets by purchasing only a short leg of the trip here (for example Santo Domingo-San Juan), and then buying the rest of the fare abroad.

U.S. Embassy expected to continue without an ambassador
The Listín Diario newspaper reported that the DR is not likely to get a U.S. ambassador this year. The Embassy has been about a year without an ambassador. A Washington Post note indicates that the U.S. Congress is not assigning priority to the 140 nominations of diplomats submitted by the Clinton Administration. The nominations include that of Mari Carmen Aponte, the Puerto Rican lawyer who has been nominated for the Dominican Republic.
Charge d'affairs Linda Watt has been temporarily heading the embassy. She recently made news when submitting to the Dominican government the list of 35 Dominicans the U.S. Government would like extradited, as per a new bill passed by Congress and expected to be converted into law by the Presidency within the next two weeks.
She also made headlines for the warning that terrorist groups could assault flights between Cuba and the DR. Lacsa of Costa Rica and Cubana de Aviacion fly the route. The US recently allowed the renewal of flights to Cuba from Florida. A United Airlines jet was chartered for the first trip.

Maritime Festival slated for Ozama River
The marina at the Ozama River and the Avenida del Puerto of Santo Domingo will be center stage to the 20-23 August II Marine Festival 1998. During the festival, there will be speed boat competitions, sailboat regattas, a fishing tournament, jet ski races and row boat races.

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