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Daily News - 16 November 1998

Visit of Hillary Clinton confirmed
The State Department has confirmed that US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will visit the DR for 36 hours starting on Thursday, 19 November. She will arrive in Santo Domingo after a three-day tour to Central America. In Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, the First Lady will tour devastated areas or visit with officers in charge of reconstruction and relief efforts. The wife of Vice President Al Gore returned recently from her tour of devastated areas. President Leonel Fernández will receive the First Lady at the Airport, with full protocol of a visiting statesperson. On Friday, 20 November she will visit President Fernández at the National Palace. Mrs. Clinton was scheduled to visit Santo Domingo at the end of September, but her trip was postponed because of Hurricane Georges.

Dr. José Francisco Peña International Airport?
President Leonel Fernández vetoed the changing of the name of the Las Americas International Airport, the principal Dominican passenger port of entry. Congress has passed a bill that changes of name of the terminal to that of Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez, in honor of the late long time Dominican Partido Revolucionario Dominicano politician. The veto keeps going after his death the controversy that was so much part of the life of the politician who died this year of cancer of the stomach while being his party's candidate to Mayor of Santo Domingo.
Peña Gómez was candidate to the presidency several times, Mayor of Santo Domingo, president of the International Socialist organization and was known for his extensive international contacts and many travels abroad. Congress recently approved the bill changing the name of the airport, but President Leonel Fernández argues that the name commemorates the Dominican Republic as gateway to the Americas and the cradle of the New World. The highway leading to the airport is also known as Avenida de las Americas. In the comments that accompany the veto President Leonel Fernández suggests adding the name of Juan Pablo Duarte, the leader of the independence movement against Haiti in 1844, to the Las Americas name. PRD congressmen that are majority in both houses of Congress, and are expected to override the veto.
Santo Domingo Senator Milagros Ortiz Bosch defended the change of the name arguing that New York's airport honors John F. Kennedy and Paris's airport Charles De Gaulle.
The day's poll in the Listín Diario shows that 77% or 2,415 persons called in to say the name should not be changed. Some 731 (23%) called up in favor of the name change.
The veto adds to the differences between the Executive Branch and the PRD majority Congress.

Chamber of Deputies shows poor work record
The Chamber of Deputies, which gathers the best paid Dominican public employees, in its most recent sessions period, is able to show as results only two bills passed and an international treaty. The Chamber spent most of the three months of the session approving 49 resolutions. The resolutions cannot be enforced and serve merely as recommendations. The low productivity is attributed to the constant confrontations between the PRD and its own PRD dissidents within the Chamber.
The Chamber of Deputies in three months were only able to pass a bill modifying Law 14-93 in order to reduce duties on insulin, and another that added the name of Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez to the Las Americas International Airport. The bill was later modified to eliminate the Las Americas part of the name, leaving just Dr. Peña Gómez's name.

PRD politicians start aggressively marketing their candidacies
Partido Revolucionario Dominicano pre-candidates' propaganda has begun to litter the capital city of Santo Domingo. Posters and bill boards promoting Hipólito Mejía, Milagros Ortíz Bosch and Rafael (Fello) Suberví now pollute city space that Hurricane Georges had cleaned up quite a bit. These politicians, along with Hatuey De Camps and Rafael Abinader, aspire to become the PRD candidate in the May 16, 2000 presidential elections.

PRSC holds on for life to post in the Municipal League
El Siglo political analyst Emilio Herasme Peña comments that the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano of former President Joaquín Balaguer is holding on to the possibility of a PRSC man being elected secretary general of the Liga Municipal Dominicana in order to maintain an important political presence.
The PRSC launched the successful "come-solo" slogan in the congressional and municipal elections, in a subtle way allying with the PRD versus the PLD. As a result, the PRD won more posts than would have happened if the PRSC had negotiated with the PLD. The PRSC today has only two senators and 17 deputies, and is a distant minority party in Congress.
Now the party fixes its survival on winning the secretary general post in the city government organization, whose secretary general has strong influence in the allotment of municipal funds that today are 4% of the National Budget but could be 10% if proposals are passed.
The PRD has the majority of city government's but it is possible it could lose the post if the PLD allies with the PRSC. The PRSC's candidate, senator Amable Aristy Castro would need the support of the PLD to win the post. The stand, though, adds to the political deadlock, as the PRD will not resolve the Junta Central Electoral crisis, where the PRD Senate majority unilaterally elected the members, if the PLD supports the PRSC for the LMD post.

Will Johnny Ventura be able to stop City Hall from being a welfare institution?
Johnny Ventura is trying, making the announcement of cancellation of 800 PRD activists at the municipality, but he will have a hard time changing the image of the Santo Domingo Municipality as a welfare institution which houses thousands political activists who can use the income.
Wendy Santana of El Siglo newspaper did a breakdown of how appointed mayors have used the municipality as a welfare institution.
Pedro Franco Badía (PRD 1978-82) received a city hall with 500 persons employed. He increased his payroll to benefit 750 persons.
Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez (PRD 1982-86) increased the number of employments to 1,500 to benefit followers of Dr. Jacobo Majluta, the political opponent within the party to Dr. Salvador Jorge Blanco, who won the presidency in 1982.
Dr. Rafael Suberví Bonilla in his first term as mayor (PRD 1986-1990) almost tripled the number of employees, seeking to give jobs to all unemployed PRD members. He also increased salaries. Corporan de los Santos (PRSC 1990-94) added hundreds of new jobs, but kept most of the inheritted personnel because of his personal friendship with former mayors Peña Gómez and Suberví. He also used city hall monies to make thousands of monthly donations in the amounts of 300-500 pesos.
Suberví, in his second term, (PRD 1994-1998) again provided hundreds of jobs for PRD activists. During his administration, the bill that granted municipalities 4% of the total National Budget was approved, and thus Suberví made major salary increases for his personnel.
By the time present Mayor Johnny Ventura arrived (1998-2002) there were 8,000 persons employed in the city municipality, most without needed functions. El Siglo's analysis states that Ventura would like to change the image of the institution as a welfare organization. The first 800 persons fired represent a savings of RD$3 million from the city government's monthly budget of RD$20 million to pay wages.

The high cost of not deciding affects gold mine and tax payers
The Dominican Mining Chamber president, Luis Rafael Pellerano urged that President Leonel Fernández decide over the future of the Rosario Mining Company. The exploitation of the sulphide ore reserves are estimated at more than 100 millions tons, which could generate billions during the well over 30 years life span of the mine.
In 1996, the Fernández government contracted Salomon Brothers to organize the tender whereby a foreign company would take over the exploitation. The contracting of the firm guaranteed transparency and attracted major mining companies.
Sources say the process has been delayed after reportedly PLD sectors have proposed a change in the rules so that the exploitation of the mine is no longer attractive to bidding companies. Remaining interested in the bid is an Australian firm, a Canadian firm and a US firm, but these would probably only participate if the original conditions are maintained.
A decision of whether to accept the proposal of the PLD sectors, whereby the state would now seek a 50% partner in the dividends, taxable by 50%, is not attractive to a company that would have to assume 100% of the investment and 100% of the risk, says lawyer Luis Rafael Pellerano. The company chosen would have to make an investment of US$700 million.
Mining expert Romeo Llinás, alerted that the delays have a high cost to the country. He explained that the delays are occassioning environmental damages for RD$200 million a year. The contamination would not occur if a private company were entrusted with the project, as adequate controls would be instated.
The decision as to the future of the Rosario Mining Company has been postponed since 1986. The delay is also said to cost tax payers RD$1,000 million a year, in order to maintain an operation that is deficiitary.
Llinás also explained that if the government decides not to exploit the sulphides would cost more than to do so. He said to seal the mine would cost RD$4,000 to RD$5,000 million.

Tourism gives in to taxi unions in Puerto Plata
The Ministry of Tourism authorized private taxi companies to drop off tourists to the Maimón, Costambar and Playa Dorada tourism complex. But the Ministry pleased hotel taxi unions by banning taxi companies from being able to respond to telephone calls made by tourists from their hotels. Taxis dropping off tourists need to leave the area and may not pick up passengers in the enclaves. The Asociación de Propietarios de Hoteles y Condominios de Playa Dorada opposes the monopoly of the taxi unions.

High risk areas near dam should not be inhabited
The coordinator of the Comité Dominicano de Mitigación de Desastres, a committee that seeks to prevent the effects of natural disasters, has warned that the government should relocate towns that are in the course of waters that would flow from dams in case of an earthquake or intense rains. Christine Herridge told El Siglo that the government should carry out evaluations to ascertain whether the dams can resist major earthquakes. She alerted that several towns are in high risk areas if the dams were to break during an earthquake, or if a major hurricane were to bring intense rains that would cause flooding. The DR is on the Caribbean hurricane route and the country is due for a major earthquake, as these historically have occurred every 50 years or so.

President Fernández promises Tamayo residents TVs for Christmas
President Leonel Fernandez visited Tamayo, the devastated town in Barahona and promised to assist the residents of this area with new electrical appliances as well as continue government efforts to completely recover the area. Tamayo, a very productive farming community, was devastated by mud slides that swallowed the town as if they were lava erupting from a volcano. This was the President's third visit to Tamayo. He promised residents that the government would donate TV sets, refrigerators, and stoves to townspeople.

Leading daily to help Mirador del Sur Park
The Listín Diario has taken upon itself the reconstruction of the Parque Mirador del Sur, the city's principal park, that is to Santo Domingo what Central Park is to New York City. The eight kilometers long by half a kilometer wide park is intensely used by walkers, volleyball players, cyclists, roller skaters, for picnics, and birthday parties. It lost about 30% of its trees during Hurricane Georges. The Department of Forestry plans to plant varieties of trees that proved to resistant to high winds.

DR and Spain sign immigration treaty
The DR and Spain have established a telephone hotline so that authorities can call either way when in doubt over the legitimacy of travel documents. Danilo Diaz, Director of the department of Migration, said that the agreement seeks to reduce inconveniences Dominican travelers to Spain needlessly suffered. In addition to leisure travel between both countries, there 25,000 Dominicans reside in Spain. Approximately 3,000 legal residencies are granted every year.

Major energy conference held in Santo Domingo
Enerlac 98 is taking place in Santo Domingo. Delegates from 26 Latin American countries have come to participate in the event to discuss the expansion and marketing options within the energy sector. The event is organized by the Organización Latinoamericana de Energía (OLADE) and the Secretariado Técnico de la Presidencia. It is sponsored by the Interamerican Development Bank, the World Bank and the European Economic Community. Major private energy firms and international finance organizations are participating in the talks.

Freedom of the press in the DR
The Interamerican Press Society (IAPA) in its 54th General Assembly certified that there is full freedom of the press in the Dominican Republic during the past six months.

Tickets to Baryshnikov presentation on sale
Mikhail Baryshnikov will perform in Santo Domingo, 5 and 6 December at the National Theater. Tickets are on sale for RD$1,000, RD$600 and RD$400. The 50-year old Russian dancer who migrated to the US in 1974 will give a two hour performance. The moneys will go to the Fundación Punta Cana and the Hogar del Niño de la Romana, an orphanage sponsored by designer Oscar de la Renta. The Fundación Punta Cana assists the poor in the eastern towns of Beron, Juanillo, La Otra Banda, Macao and Los Salados. The Foundation wants to open an orphanage in Punta Cana, to be known as "Child of the Caribbean".

Dominican singer places 12th
Claudine Bonó, who represented the Dominican Republic in the OTI Song Festival held in Costa Rica, placed 12th. Other finalists were the representatives of the US, Uruguay, Argentina, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Portugal, DR and Spain. A three-time OTI participant from Chile won the important regional festival that is televised to all of Iberoamerica and Hispanic audiences in the United States.

Techno exhibition
The Tecno Expo Plaza Lama slated to open 20 November at the Centro de Convenciones of the Malecón sounds interesting. Items featuring the latest technology that are available at the Plaza Lama department store will be exhibited. See portable DVDs, 2.4 ghz wireless telephones, digital cameras, robots, laptops, video conferencing telephones, and other new technology. The admission to the event that ends 22 November is free. Persons of all ages are welcome.

Aguilas still lead, but lose to Gigantes
In Dominican Winter Professional Baseball, the Tigres del Licey defeated the Leones del Escogido 1-0 on Sunday evening. The Gigantes del Nordeste defeated the Aguilas Cibaeñas, 3-2. The Aguilas Cibaeñas are in first place (11-6), followed by the Tigres del Licey (11-7), Leones del Escogido (8-10), and Gigantes del Nordeste (5-12). For more information (in Spanish) on the games see http://www.lapelota.com or http://www.tricom.net/pelota

Lobbying for the site of the Pan Am Games in 2003
The Dominican Olympic Committee is expecting the visit of delegates from 30 nations that support the Dominican Olympic Committee's aspirations to host the Panamerican Sports Games in Santo Domingo in year 2003. Dr. José Joaquín Puello said that delegations from the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Haiti, Curaçao, Aruba, St. Martin, El Salvador, St. Kitts and Nevis, Chile, Bolivia, Bahamas and Barbados will visit. The members of the Panamerican Sports Organization will vote in Panama on 6 December. The DR expects to defeat Guadalajara, Mexico in the second round. Another contender for the site of the games is Medellín, Colombia.

Sammy Sosa chosen MVP of Japanese series
Sammy Sosa was chosen Most Valuable Player of the friendship seven-game series an all-star team of the Major League staged in Japan. In the last game, he batted his third home run to please Japanese crowds. In his first chance in the series, he also batted a home run. The Dominican slugger has taken center stage during the series. Sosa has been seen daily on Japanese TV blowing kisses with his two fingers and bowing in Japanese style. Sosa has donated the proceeds from TV commercials he has made here to help the victims of Hurricane Georges in his homeland, the Dominican Republic. According to Japanese press, Sosa has asked a Japanese governor to donate temporary housing used after the 1995 Kobe Earthquake to the DR. The US Major League All-Stars Team defeated the Japanese 5-2 in the series.

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