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Daily News - 10 November 1998

Food surplus forecast for January
Hoy newspaper published reports today on the concerns of Cibao farmers that prices of basic Dominican food staples will drop considerably in January as a result of the high volumes of produce that will hit the markets. The president of the Consejo Nacional de Parceleros, Apolinar Germosén said that thousands of small and medium-sized producers in the region have benefited from the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and there are extensive fields under production. Farmers have planted yucca, plantains, sweet potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, okra, corn, beans, squash and other short cycle crops taking advantage of assistance received from the government after fields were affected by the intense rains and winds of Hurricane Georges in September. The farmers, though, now say that the effects of the overabundance of produce will be worse on their finances than Georges was. "We will have to give the products away," said Germosén. He urged that the government find markets for the surplus in Honduras and Nicaragua, countries with a diet similar to that of the DR and where fields were wiped bare.

Advancing on free trade agreement with Central America
Central America and the DR have agreed to exclude 24 products from the free trade agreement signed earlier this year. Of these, five products were on the negative list submitted by the Central American trading block, and another 19 were submitted by the DR. Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre said that still to be defined are legalities regarding the rules of origin and the participation of the free zone export goods within the agreement. Minister Latorre forecast the agreement will bring about an increase in trade between the DR and Central America. Trade between the DR and Central America at present is 1% of the total Dominican exports and imports.

Davidoff expands facilities to produce premium cigars
Davidoff International opens a new plant with capacity to produce up to 30 million cigars a year this Wednesday. Davidoff has been producing cigars in the DR for the past nine years.
Davidoff International president Ernest Schneider visited Santiago de los Caballeros for the opening of the new plant where some 500 tobacco rollers will be employed. He was accompanied by 34 journalists. Schneider says that Dominican tobacco is the best alternative to Cuban tobacco today. He explained that the lighter taste of Dominican cigars is preferred by consumers in the 25-40 age brackets. He said that the company's cigars are in fashion now, and attribute the success of the company to this.
Present at one of the events held to open the new plant, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduardo Latorre said that the DR is the world's leading exporter of cigars, selling 400 million cigars in 1997, of which 90% were sold to the US market.
He said that while Dominican cigar exports in 1996 amounted to US$135 million, these more than doubled in 1997 to US$289 million. He explained that tobacco has become the main money crop. Sugar exports amounted to US$173 million last year.

Big mistake on overpass to cost big bucks
The Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña said that his department will fit the bill of adapting the Avenida Paris overpass to the bridge that is going up parallel to Duarte Bridge above the Ozama River. Minister Peña said that major design errors affect the overpass that was funded by the Municipality of Santo Domingo, under Mayor Rafael Suberví Bonilla. He insisted that the overpass is not wide enough for two lanes and that four or five apartment buildings will have to be demolished. Tax payers have already paid RD$78 million for this overpass that has several years under construction. Peña said that the overpass is a contradiction: it adds two lanes on top, but eliminates two on the ground level. The construction, which was to be carried out as a joint project between the Ministry of Public Works and the Municipality of Santo Domingo, has been paralyzed for several months when the municipality stopped payments to the contractors.

RD$810 millions in losses for CEA
The Listín Diario reported that the State Sugar Council (CEA) has reported losses for RD$810 million for the period 1 October 1997 through 30 September 1998. This is the most losses reported by the sugar consortium that groups state mills and fields throughout the country. The CEA is in the process of being privatized in order to relieve the government of the burden of the heavy subsidies. The confidential report prepared by the Gerencia de Auditoría Técnica dated 15 October and published by the Listín, attributes the increase in the losses to a lack of correct decisions in management, planning, engineering, transport and farm areas.

Only unleaded gasoline available as of January
As of January, a new unleaded gasoline will be sold in the DR for the same price as leaded gasoline. The new gasoline will be of less quality than the unleaded gasoline available in Dominican gas stations. A Shell spokesman say that some 10 year old cars may experience problems when changing from leaded to unleaded gasoline. The leaded gasoline will not be sold after January. The new gasoline is considered better for the life span of vehicles, their maintenance, and will reduce vehicle contamination of the environment.

First in vitro baby doing fine
The first in vitro baby to have been conceived and born in the DR of a father with fertility problems, Silvia Marie Mota is doing well. She is the 13th in vitro child conceived in the DR. She was conceived under the care of the Centro de Fertilidad y Reproducción Humana (Cenfrhu), a fertility clinic property of Dr. Elías Rosario. She was born to an engineer mother and a military father who had spent 11 years trying to conceive. The father had problems with his sperm count. Baby Silvia was born 6 November at the Centro de Fertilidad of mother Jacqueline Rivas and father Genaro Mota. The nine-month baby weighed 6-3/4 lbs. at birth. She was born by C-section and is in perfect health. She went home on Monday.

Major shopping mall to go up in Bella Vista
Construction began on the Plaza Bella Vista, being promoted as the largest in the country. Going up on a 15,600 square meters lot in Bella Vista, a suburb west of Santo Domingo, the mall is built by the García Armenteros firm. This firm has undertaken several malls in Santo Domingo in recent years. Engineer Jorge Abreu is in charge of the construction. El Nacional has announced it will open a supermarket on the premises. This will be a first time that a major mall with multiple stores incorporates a supermarket. The new mall is going up in front of the Instituto San Juan Bautista as reported in Hoy newspaper. It will have three levels, including a 1,000 parking level on a first level.

Book tells tales of Sammy Sosa's 1998 season
"Sammy's Season" is the title of the new book to be soon released on the phenomenal 1998 season of Dominican slugger, Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. The book is written by Skip Bayless, a columnist of the Chicago Tribune. According to a story in the Listín Diario, 100,000 books will be printed for the first edition. Earlier this year, Dominican Seattle Mariner's Alex Rodríguez published his "Hit a Grand Slam."

DR places 11th in world volleyball games
The Dominican Republic's women's team placed 11th in the world after participating in the World Volleyball Games that are taking place in Japan. The DR tied with Bulgaria. In 1978, the DR had placed 19th in the event, the best placement prior to this year's participation.
The DR achieved the placement after defeating Germany 3-2 (1-15, 15-11, 15-6, 7-15 and 17-15) during the opening day of the championship. The DR nevertheless lost to Peru 3-2 (9-15, 15-12, 15-3, 8-15 and 15-11), failing to achieve a 10th place slot.
In its final commitment during the games, the DR lost to Japan 3-0 (15-1, 15-13 and 15-0).
Technician Jorge Pérez Vento said that the ups and downs of the Dominican team are because the team is inexperienced. He said there is much future in the young Dominican team, where its players can yet compete in two more world games.

Aguilas lead in Winter Baseball
The Aguilas Cibaeñas (9-4) lead the Dominican Winter Professional Baseball League, followed one game behind by the Licey Tigers (8-5), the Escogido Lions (7-7) and the Gigantes (3-11).

Judo Pan Ams to open in Santo Domingo this month
The Dominican Republic will be host to the XXIIth Panamerican Judo Championships 27-29 November. Santo Domingo will welcome the best judo athletes from Puerto Rico, Canada, the US, Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Barbados, Curacao, Aruba and Paraguay.
The DR is top ranked in the region in the sport. In this year's Central American and Caribbean Sports Games held in Maracaibo, Venezuela, the Dominican judo team won 12 medals. The event will take place at the judo facility at the Centro Olímpico Juan Pablo Duarte.

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