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Daily News - 01 October 1998

NOTE: The DR1 daily news report will not appear tomorrow. News will be compiled and presented in the Monday, 5 October report. The editor of this section was reassigned to carry out a report of the tourism industry in Punta Cana-Bavaro as second of a planned series on the different areas of the country and how they fared after the passing of Hurricnae Georges. This report will be posted along with the Monday news on 5 October. For the first news report of this series, see Puerto Plata Hotel Industry Update - 1 October 1998

Is the Supreme Court ruling legal?
The Supreme Court of Justice ruled that judges cannot be removed from their posts when they are 75 years old. The court also expressed that several other articles of the Judicial Career Law and the National Council of the Magistracy, the body that elects the Supreme Court judges, are contrary to the Constitution. Several civic society groups had requested the opinion of the Supreme Court on the matter. In an editorial, El Caribe newspaper states that the ruling of the Supreme Court could itself be illegal because the Supreme Court is only authorized by the Constitution to annul laws, not to modify them. If the laws were annulled, all appointed judges, including those of the Supreme Court, would be out of their jobs.

249 death toll
The National Commission of Evaluation of Damages and Needs of Hurricane Georges reported the death toll is at 249 persons as of 31 September 1998. The commission reported there are 75 persons disappeared, 557 injured and 120,681 homeless. The damages are assessed at RD$18 billion. The government has a set aside RD$10 million to aid the population and Congress created a fund for RD$3,500 million for the same purpose. The most affected provinces were San Cristóbal, the National District (Santo Domingo), San Pedro de Macorís, Hato Mayor and La Romana, as well as the province of San Juan, due to the flooding of rivers after the hurricane. Of those in shelters, the largest number was 20,000 in La Romana, 15,000 in Barahona, 12,626 in the National district, 11,632 in San Juan de la Maguana, 5,630 in Azua, 5,000 in Monte Plata and 5,000 in Higuey, 4,000 in Nagua.

New housing for low income Dominicans
The president of the Dominican College of Engineers and Architects (CODIA) said that an estimated 60,000 houses were affected by Georges. He estimated 60% can be repaired because they were built of wood and zinc houses property of impoverished Dominicans. He said that the CODIA and the government Instituto Nacional de Viviendas will build 10,000 houses in the next 20 months in the East, Southeast and Southwest and National District regions, with a cost from RD$100,000 to RD$200,000 each.

President optimistic about recovery
President Leonel Fernández said that the country is recuperating at an impressive pace. He said that the Dominican people are again using their full creative capacity to bring things back to normal. "I feel that in many places the measures have been taken to put behind us the hurricane's ravages and I aspire that we can continue implementing these measures nationwide to allow for the rapid recuperation throughout," he said.

US aid fund of US$35 million
The US government has allotted a US$35 million aid fund to carry out several programs to assist victims of Hurricane Georges. A mission head by the world director of the Agency for International Development, J. Brian Attwood arrived yesterday to coordinate the aid. Attwood is also special coordinator for international disasters for the President's office. Other members of the visiting mission are Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew M. Cuomo and Mark Geran, world director for the Peace Corps. Several US Congress men and women were part of the delegation. These included: Donna Christian Green, US Virgin Islands; Patrick Kennedy, Rhode Island; Jim McDermott, Bill Pascrell and Donald Payne, New Jersey; George Miller, California; Charles Rangel, New York and Carlos Romero Barcelo, Puerto Rico. The congressmen toured several of the most affected areas with President Fernández.
Attwood also announced that the US Department of Agriculture will donate 100,000 metric tons of wheat, valued at US$10 million as part of the aid package. The Clinton administration will also cover maintenance expenses of three C-130 airplanes that will transport US donations to the DR. The AID already had allotted US$3 million in emergency aid to the DR.

Shows rescheduled at National Theater
The National Theater will re-open 7 October with the first performance of the National Symphony Orchestra as their 1998-1999 season opens. Julio de Windt, who is the director of the National Symphony Orchestra will conduct this first concert with the special performance of violoncellist Andrés Díaz. The program for the evening is Dvorak's Symphony No. 5, and Concert for violoncello and orchestra in Si minor. The classic music season continues with performances on 14, 21, 28 October 1998, and then 14, 21, 28 April, and 5,12 and 19 May 1999.
The National Theater has reprogrammed several shows that were scheduled to open at the theater. Merengue star Milly Quezada will now go on stage 16 and 17 October, and in Santiago's Cibao Theater on 23-24 October. Cuban Amaury Pérez's show has been postponed for 29 October. Chayanne, the popular contemporary singer's show has been postponed for December. The "Cuidado con el de los cuernos," play, that is part of the drama season, and which was scheduled for 25 September through 18 October has been postponed to open 16 October.

Day long show to gather donations for children
The producers of the leading children's television programs in the Dominican Republic are joining forces to broadcast a day-long fund-raising show pro Dominican children that have suffered from Hurricane Georges. The show will be transmitted all day on Saturday on three television channels and 20 radio stations. "United for Children" is a joint effort of Rafael Corporán de los Santos, Angel Puello and Isabel Aracena, Nuryn Sanlley, Henry Mercedes and Blanquita Hernández. Goods received will be distributed by the Roman Catholic Church.

It's play ball on 23 October
The president of the Dominican Professional Baseball League, Leonardo Matos Berrido said that the Dominican winter baseball season will reopen 23 October as planned but with only four teams. He said the season will be played with the Licey Tigers, Escogido Lions (based in Santo Domingo), the Northeastern Giants (San Francisco de Macoris) and the Cibao Eagles (Santiago). The Oriental Stars (San Pedro de Macoris) and the Sugar Cane Growers of the East (La Romana) will not play this year as the hurricane caused major damages to their stadiums. The season will open Friday, 23 October with games played in Santo Domingo (Licey vs Escogido) and San Francisco de Macoris (Aguilas vs Gigantes).

Weekend clean up operation
The Municipality of Santo Domingo, the Ministry of Public Health and the National Council of Private Enterprise announced an operation called "Healthy City, A Commitment of All" which is a final drive to clear the city of debris left by Georges. Mayor Johnny Ventura said that debris left by the hurricane weighs more than 200,000 tons.

Import duties on construction materials could be eliminated
Congress could soon pass a bill that will exempt from import taxes construction material most used by impoverished Dominicans to repair and build their houses. The Chamber of Deputies is studying a bill that would exempt from import taxes zinc, nails, asbestos and other materials used. The law would be effective through 31 November of this year.

Columbus Lighthouse reopens
The Columbus Lighthouse has reopened. The visits are permitted in the normal schedule of 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday to Sunday. The day after the Hurricane, several monuments were opened given the large number of tourists that were in the capital city.

False alarm
A false rumor about a tidal wave circulated since early morning of 1 October, making several people abandon their homes at 4 am seeking shelter in higher areas of the city, such as in the Mirador del Sur Park. The rumor said that a tidal wave would affect the south coast of the Dominican Republic, especially neighborhoods near the sea. A man in San Pedro de Macorís was arrested for being the first to spread the rumor. The rumor said the tidal wave had affected San Pedro.

Phone service is restored at Punta Cana Beach Resort
José Oliva, project director of Punta Cana Beach Resort, one of the most affected resorts in the Eastern Coast, announced that Dominican Telephone Company technicians had restored telephone service at the hotel after many long hours and days of work. "Since today by 7 pm any person interested in contacting a friend or relative at Punta Cana Beach Resort in Punta Cana can now do so dialing direct to the resort at (809) 221-2262 or by faxing (809) 687-8745.
Oliva also announced that the Punta Cana Beach Resort is offering all services to the guests staying at the resort and all of those planning to come in the next days, weeks or months ahead: Reliable electricity, potable water, satellite cable-TV, international phone call services, all kind of water sports, crystal clear waters on white sand beaches, hot and sunny days, horseback riding, scuba diving, snorkeling have been restored, he explained.Re: Phone Lines in Punta Cana
Furthermore, as of today, phone service was restored in Punta Cana Airport. Other phone lines in the Punta Cana area will be are scheduled to be restored probably by next week.

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