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Daily News - 03 August 1998

New boulevard to preserve ecology
Paolo Oberti, representative of the United Nations Development Program in the Dominican Republic, said that the government will begin to implement a 15-year plan to convert the riversides of the Ozama and Isabela rivers in Santo Domingo into an "ecological corridor". The first phase of the plan calls for the relocation of 3,000 families from the La Zurza, La Cienaga , Los Guandules and Gualey slum areas along the river over a two year period. The families will be relocated and their indigent homes torn down to leave way for a boulevard where space will be prepared to lodge handicraft and other tourism-oriented stores. "The idea is to take advantage of the circumstance to embellish the area and improve the conditions of the citizens that today live in the surroundings," explained Oberti who said the works would begin this month.

DR reduces its foreign debt
The vice governor of the Central Bank, Luis Manuel Piantini said on TV last week that the DR is the only Latin American country to show a major improvement of its US$ reserve position and foreign debt. Piantini explained that the foreign debt has been reduced US$1,100 since year 1994. The foreign debt declined from US$4,500 million to US$3,400 million over that time period. He said the Central Bank strives to maintain the present macroeconomic stability, with low levels of inflation, while implementing policies that balance the monetary and credit policies.

Driver's licenses in 20 minutes
Andres Martínez, director of the Direccion de Transito Terrestre, the Dominican government department that issues drivers' licenses, said that by year's end drivers' licenses may be obtained in 20 minutes time. He explained that computers are being installed and the department automated at a cost of RD$20 million. The department's computers will communicate directly with the computers of the Police and the tax bureau. Thus, when a traffic cop gives a ticket, if the delinquent driver does not pay his fine, he will not be able to renew his car's license plate. He said the system will make it unnecessary for policemen to retain licenses from the drivers.

Housing for Dominicans living abroad
Hector Galván, a Dominican consul based at the New York City consulate, explained that Dominican residents abroad will be able to benefit from the special program, Viviendas para los Dominicanos Residentes en el Exterior (Invidorex). The program will make it easy for Dominicans who live abroad to purchase their future home in the DR. He said that homes are financed by the Greyston Corporation of New York that is contributing US$50 million to a pool of Dominican banks through a letter of credit. He said that the local banks that are participating in the program are the Banco Gerencial y Fiduciario, Banco de Reservas, Baninter, Banco BHD, Banco Popular, Asociación Popular de Ahorros y Préstamos and the Asociación Nacional de Ahorros y Préstamos. Down payments will be around US$6,000 for the 108 to 145 meter sized homes. The first 400 dwellings of the project, that is going up at Km. 13 of the Las Americas Highway, near the V Centenario Horse Race Track, will be ready in November. Plans are to complete an additional 400 homes every four months thereafter for 1,373 homes in the first phase.

I said no, but I mean yes, but really, I mean all the contrary
In a speech to the nation last week in response to a request from the Roman Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic that the President explain where he stands on his possible re-election, President Leonel Fernández gave the impression that presidential re-election was not an issue. Presidential re-election was banned in the constitutional reform of year 1994.
Shortly after, Partido Liberación Dominicana government political strategist Carlos Doré Cabral, after a meeting with President Leonel Fernández, clarified that what the President had said was that he would not promote a constitutional reform in this legislative process that ends 15 August, not that the President was totally discarding being re-elected if the new Congress voted so.
Hoy newspaper reported that the PLD does not have a position on the issue, as it is not a topic on agenda. Lidio Cadet, secretary general of the party, said that the President in his original speech left no doubt that he would not run for re-election.
The Director of Information and Press of the National Palace, Adriano Miguel Tejada, then came forth to say that because of his principles, President Fernández would not run for President in year 2000. He said the President will not seek the presidency because his young age will allow him to run for the presidency at least in four more presidential elections in the future. He said that an extension of the mandate of the President is practically impossible, because the leading opposition party, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) has made re-election a principal campaign issue and Congress is predominantly ruled by the PRD in both houses.
Later in the week, President Fernández held a two hour meeting at the National Palace seeking to improve communication of the government with the press. The gabinet in full attended the meeting.

Boca Chica-Juan Dolio boulevard now underway
The Ministry of Public Works officially began the construction of the Autovía del Este, a 56-kilometer project expected to cost over RD$679 million. Once completed, the highway will shorten the time it takes to travel between Santo Domingo and La Romana from two hours to 40 minutes. The highway should be completed by August 1999. It will have five stretches of four lanes of 3.65 meters each, plus an area of 10 meters for future expansion. The first stretch will begin at the rotunda of Boca Chica and will run 14 kilometers providing access to the hotels in that area.
Public Works Minister Diandino Peña formally broke ground for the work that will be carried out by the engineering contractors of Consorcio Chaljub-Remix, Cosntructora J. Fortuna, Consorcio Corporación de Asfalto, Constructora Rizek, Elsamex-Mapek y Obras y Tecnologías S. A.

DR exports up
According to a report in El Siglo, Dominican exports will generate US$4,631 million, placing the DR among the leading five exporters of the region, according to statistics of the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The growth of Dominican exports in 1998 compared to 1997 will be 11.2%. Last year, the DR exported US$4,164 million. DR exports grew 14.5% from 1997 over 1996, and 29.7% from 1996 over 1995. The statistics include free zone exports.

The final round of Caribbean free trade negotiations
Technicians from the DR and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) are meeting in Santo Domingo this week for the seventh and final round of negotaitions leading to the signing of a free trade agreement between the English-speaking Caribbean and the Dominican Republic. The free trade agreement will create a trading block of 20 million consumers. Frederic Emam-Zade is the country's leading trade negotiator.
The meetings that are taking place 3, 4 and 5 of August precede the signing of a free trade agreement by the President of the Dominican Republic and chiefs of state of Caricom nations during the Summit of Caricom to be held in Santo Domingo, 20-22 August.
Other key negotiators for the Dominican Repúblic are Angel Canó (goods), Federico Cuello (services) and Margarita Cedeño (investments).
Negotiations leading towards the treaty have taken place in Jamaica, Santo Domingo, Trinidad & Tobago, and British Guyana.

Government owes RD$26,000 million
Jesuit priest and economist Jose Luis Alemán denounced that in the government there is a mafia of engineers and politicians that spend large sums of money on public works without any justification. He said the government maintains a domestic debt of RD$26,000 million that needs to be paid. He spoke during the seminar where the legislators that were elected to Congress starting 16 August 1998 are receiving instruction on their roles as legislators.

Now flights to Haiti
Air Santo Domingo announced the start of its first international flights. The airline will fly three times a week to Port-au-Prince, Haiti as of this coming Wednesday. Fernando Rainieri, president of the airline, said that as the demand increases, the airline plans to increase flights to a daily frequency. The flights will depart from the Herrera International Airport at 12 midday to land in Port-au-Prince at that same time, Haitian time. Departure from Port-au-Prince for Santo Domingo is set for 12:30 pm with arrival in Las Americas International Airport at 2:30 pm. The flights will land in Las Americas, Santo Domingo's main port of entry, to facilitate international connections. The Air Santo Domingo flight to Haiti will connect with the airline's flights from Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Samana. A free shuttle service will take passengers to the Herrera airport for departure to Haiti.

Constriction Belt vs. Viagra
A Dominican resident in New York for the past 15 years has launched the Constriction Belt, a device that intends to compete with Viagra, the Pfizer drug.
The Constriction Belt is being marketed as producing the same results sought with Viagra, without the negative side effects.
The inventor, 26-year old Ramon Jaquez says it can be used by any man, not only by those with impotence problems, to improve the intensity of sexual relations. He explained it is more economical than Viagra because it can be re-used.
The Constriction Belt looks like an man's underwear. It will be launched at a cost of US$99. In his home shop has prepared 1,000 belts and is in the process of massively producing the item.

Moving ahead towards hosting the Pan Ams
The visiting mission of the Panamerican Olympic Organization concluded that Santo Domingo has all necessary to organize the Pan American Sports Games in year 2003. The presidents of the Olympic Committees of Uruguay, Honduras and Cuba, Julio Cesar Maglione, Julio Villalta and José Ramón Fernández, respectively were in Santo Domingo last week to evaluate the city of Santo Domingo as a possible site. The trio needs to prepare a report on sports facilities, security issues and governmental and population support of the contending cities - Medellín, Colombia; Guadalajara, Mexico and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - for the Games for Mario Vásquez Raña, president of the Panamerican Sports Organization.
Minister of Sports Juan Marichal and Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña accompanied them to tour the sports facilities available in Santo Domingo.
During the visit, the president of the Cuban Olympic Committee, José Ramón Fernández told the Dominican press that the organization of the Sports Games should cost US$120 million to US$140 million. The President of the Domincan Olympic Committee had estimated the Games to cost under US$50 million.
Dr. José Joaquín Puello said the DR is preparing to host the 42 presidents of regional olympic committees prior to their voting to choose the site on 5 December in Panama.

Puerto Rican wins first part of jet ski competition
Puerto Rican Victor Vargas won the first place in the Primera Carrera Puntuable del Campeonato Presidente de Jet Ski, the most important jet ski competition held annually in the DR. The championship will continue on 13 September at the Avenida del Puerto, along the Ozama and Isabela rivers. The finals will be held in Boca Chica. The participation of jet ski contenders from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela and the United States is expected for the event.

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