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Daily News - 23 July 1998

Unemployment drops
The Governor of the Central Bank, Hector Valdez Albizu said, in his talk during the American Chamber of Commerce July luncheon, that unemployment declined from 15.7 % in April 1997 to 14.3% in June of this year. He said that as a result of the increased economic activity, 200,000 more Dominicans have found jobs in less than a year and a half. Valdez Albizu also explained that the economic growth will continue. He said Central Bank statistics show there is an accumulated 6.6% growth rate for the first semester. The forecast for year end 1998 is that the Gross Domestic Product will surpass 7%, for one of the highest if not the highest in Latin America. He said the forecast for inflation during this year is between 6 and 7%.
The Governor of the Central Bank said that in less than six months time, the government will have chosen the winner of the rights to exploit the gold deposits at the Rosario Dominicana mine in Cotuí. Companies from Canada, the United States and Australia have bid for the important exploitation contract. The bidding process is being handled by Salomon Brothers.

Passport office to get new home
Annie Felipe de Roquel said that before the year's end, the Passport Office will be moved to the third floor of the Edificio de Oficinas Gubernamentales Juan Pablo Duarte (Huacal), on Avenida Mexico. The passport office will be relocated to where the department of fire arms is operating today.
Mrs. Roquel also announced the opening on 6 August of an office for the issuing of passports at the Gregorio Luperón International Airport. The office is for the renewal of expired passports of Dominicans persons who need to leave the country but have not had time to do so through normal procedures at the Passport offices in Santo Domingo. An extra charge of RD$500 peso is made for the service.

Metro or no metro?
El Siglo reported that the Ministry of Public Works has confirmed that in the remodeling of the main thoroughfares of Santo Domingo space is being left for the construction of a metro by year 2005.
Architect Cristóbal Valdez said that the government should consider more economical solutions than the planned underground metro. Valdez worked on the design of the master plans for the city said and explained that an underground metro would be extremely costly as the city is built on top of massive coral rock formations. Valdez also criticized the administration for resorting to solutions that make life easier for those that own cars (25% of the total), and not for those that need to walk or use public transportation to get around.
The director of the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET), Hamlet Hermann said that the construction of the metro, announced for year 2005, would require an investment of US$30 million per kilometer.

PRD vs. Peguero Méndez
The president of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero warned that any PRD member that supports an eventual candidacy of Hector Rafael Peguero Méndez for president of the Chamber of Deputies will be expelled from the party. Peguero Méndez, at present president of the Chamber of Deputies, was expelled on Tuesday from the party for not obeying party guidelines. The party, which will be majority in both legislative chambers as of 16 August, had already announced the presidents of both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Hector Peguero Méndez would have liked to be re-elected to the post and had suggested he would present his candidacy in the 16 August election of the presidents of the chambers.
Orlando Gil, a political commentator for Hoy newspaper, says that Hector Peguero Méndez was not expelled for what he has done but for what he could do. During the same meeting in which the Political Commission of the PRD chose to expel Peguero Méndez, the party requested that its congressmen take a leave of absence from congressional sessions. Nevertheless, 22 PRD legislators, most re-elected, chose to attend the next work session, disregarding the notification and in apparent challenge to the leadership of the party.
Méndez has preferred to not comment on his expulsion.
The secretary general of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), Lidio Cadet said that the doors of the PLD are open to Peguero Méndez. Likewise, the president of the Senate, Amable Aristy Castro, of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), invited the former PRD member to incorporate to the board of the PRSC.

Decamps meets with Balaguer
The secretary general of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Hatuey Decamps met with former President Joaquín Balaguer, leader of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), and said that among various topics they agreed to support an increase from five to 11 the members of the Cámara de Cuentas, to not cancel Reformistas working in the National Congress and neither those working in the municipalities as of 16 August. He said they agreed to push for the completion of the Plaza de la Salud, where three hospitals are yet to be built and equipped. Hatuey Decamps visited the nonagenarian former president at his residence. He was accompanied by Senator Ramón Alburquerque (PRD-Monte Plata), deputy elect Winston Arnaud and mayor elect for Santiago, Hector Grullón Moronta. They spoke for almost an hour.

Six persons die in gunshot fight
Six persons, including Lieutenant Gregorio Gómez, a Police officer, died in a gun fight last night. Another officer, Captain Tulio Peña is seriously injured. The Police confirmed the shoot-out took place at the east side of the Francisco del Rosario Sánchez Bridge (Puente de la 17), after a unit of the Police called a vehicle to stop and its occupants answered firing shots. The Police reported they were persecuting the vehicle whose occupants were said to be known assailants of businesses in the east side of the city.

Balaguer called to testify in Llenas trial
The defense lawyers of Mario Jose Redondo Llenas have called former President Joaquin Balaguer to testify in the case of the homicide of 12-year old Jose Rafael Llenas Aybar. Also called are Marino Vinicio Castillo, president of the National Council of Drugs; deputy Anibal Páez; Eduardo Pellerano, president of the Listín Diario; Nuria Piera, television producer; Loyola school former director Nelson García and others. Lawyer Artagnan Pérez Méndez, head of accused Redondo Llenas' defense, sent the judge a list of witnesses for the hearing set for Monday, 27 July.
As per what is known today, on 3 May, Mario José Redondo Llenas, cousin of the victim, and Juan Manuel Moliné Rodríguez, kidnapped and later assassinated 12-year old José Rafael Llenas Aybar, whose body was found the next day with 34 stab wounds near a brook off Autopista Duarte that runs adjacent to a farm of the former Argentinean ambassador in the country. The son and husband of the former Argentinean ambassador in the country, also accused in the case, left the country using their diplomatic immunity. It is said they will be charged in their absence if they do not respond to diplomatic requests to return to the country for the trial.

ALM sets up regional reservations center here
ALM, the Caribbean affiliate of KLM, the Dutch airline, has moved its reservations center from Miami , Florida to Santo Domingo. The decision was made based on the availability of quality telecommunications services in the country. The new center of reservations is open from Monday to Friday from 9 to 7 pm. EDT and from Saturdays and Sundays and holidays from 9 to 6 pm EDT. José Hernández, general manager for the airline in North America, made the announcement. Hans Dannenberg is in charge of the center in Santo Domingo. Air ALM flies from Miami and Atlanta to the Netherlands Antilles. It has connections and direct flights to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, St. Martin, Venezuela, Surinam and Trinidad & Tobago.
For more information call the offices at Tel. (809) 567-2277. They are located at Plaza Merengue, Local 202, Av. 27 de Febrero corner Tiradentes in Santo Domingo.

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