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Daily News - 17 November 1998

US First Lady Hillary Clinton to speak to DR on Friday
The Press Office of the Presidency announced that U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton will deliver a message from President Bill Clinton to the Dominican people from the National Palace on Friday. The First Lady will commence a 24-hour visit on Friday morning with a visit to Dominican President Leonel Fernández, deliver her husband's message to the DR, and then meet with local and international press. The rest of her agenda will be announced today.

Energy Conference inaugural today in Santo Domingo
The 1998 Energy Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (Enerlac '98), organized by the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) and the Technical Secretary of the Dominican Presidency, opens today in Santo Domingo at 6:30 pm, with an inaugural by President Fernández. He will speak on "Energy Policies of the Dominican Republic." On Friday the 29th Meeting of Energy Ministers of the 26 OLADE nations will be held. The event, held in the auditorium of the Central Bank, has three themes: Managing Risk in the Energy Sector; Modernization of the Electricity Subsector in Latin American and the Caribbean; and Sustainable Energy for Restructured Markets.

Forget lower power bills after privatization
The coordinator of the Organización Latinoamericana de Energía (OLADE) said, when interviewed by the Dominican press prior to the formal opening of the IV Conference on Energy in Latin America that Dominicans can forget about lower power bills following the privatization of the state electricity utility. Hector J. Ferro said that the process could mean lower costs of power supplied to major industrial consumers, nevertheless. On the positive side he said there will be an increase in profitability of power suppliers, which should bring an increase in the offer of power. He said that the government needs to intervene to avoid significant increases in billings of consumers.

PRD walks out of political dialogue
The leadership of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) decided yesterday to pull the PRD out of any and all dialogue and cooperation with government representatives in protest of President Leonel Fernández's decision to veto a bill renaming the national airport. Last Friday President Fernández announced his veto of a bill to rename the airport outside Santo Domingo the Las Americas International Airport, the Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez International Airport after the former PRD leader, ex-Santo Domingo mayor and former presidential candidate, who died last spring.
Fernández, while recognizing the importance and accomplishments of Peña Gómez, noted that the airport was a portal to all the Americas and if any name change was to be made, he felt it more appropriate to add the name of the father of the Dominican Republic, Juan Pablo Duarte to the Las Americas name.
The resolution adopted on Monday by the PRD Presidium characterized the veto not only as an affront to the memory of Peña Gómez, but also evidence of a "stubborn denial of the true cultural and ethnic identity of the Dominican people." The veto may be overturned by Congress, since the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo (ASD), the coalition which PRD leads, controls 4/5 (24 of 30 seats) of the Senate and a solid majority in the Chamber of Deputies.

Santo Domingo Mayor determined to get capital's trash problem under control
Santo Domingo Juan de Dios ("Johnny") Ventura wants major changes in how trash collection is managed in the capital by year-end. He has asked President Fernández to transfer the current contract from Dixi Sanitary to an unnamed Spanish firm interested in buying the contract and to completely restructure trash collection in the capital. Currently Dixi has the collection concession in 80% of the capital territory, while another private firm, Colimec, takes care of the city's peripheral zones and Klinetec handles industrial and business wastes in the private sector. Ventura wants to give Colimec the Zona Oriental and reassign some of the territory now covered by Dixi to Klinetec and Tecnilimpieza, essentially formalizing provisional agreements the National District already has with those firms.
Ventura says that the trash problem is the number one item on his agenda, and he wants to have it completely under control by the year 2000. The mayor's office claims that, by the time Hurricane Georges arrived, a large investment by the new city government (about RD$6 million per month) had already reduced the trash collection deficit from 900 to 200 tons daily. The hurricane interrupted this effort, but Ventura hopes to get it back on-track.

Police begins permanent watch against gangs in Santiago schools
The Northern Command of the National Police launched yesterday a "permanent vigilance" against youth gangs in Santiago schools identified by the Dominican Teachers Association (ADP) and the regional office of the Ministry of Education as having experienced gang troubles. Police units have been set up at the following schools: Los Ciruelitos, Pueblo Nuevo, Pekin, Pastor, Hoya del Caimito, Cienfuegos, El Ejido and Bella Vista. Recently parents and teachers have complained of gang activities in Santiago schools. The gangs are alleged to have been started by Dominican youths raised in New York City but sent to school in Santiago by their families to get them out of trouble in NY, who now are trying to instate New York gang practices.

Provincial health system inaugurated
The Executive Commission for Health Sector Reform launched its provincial health system project yesterday. The program is intended to decentralize health care provision in the nation, which currently is heavily concentrated in and around Santo Domingo. It will emphasize special programs to improve and maintain the health of pregnant and breast feeding mothers and children under the age of five in the periphery of urban centers and in rural areas. It will focus first on the poorer zones of the periphery of the National District and 14 provinces, together which are estimated to cover about 50.9% of the country's population. The Ministry of Public Health wants to increase planning, monitoring, training and accreditation at the provincial level to bring health care provision more in tune with local needs.

REFIDOMSA ready for the change to unleaded gasoline
The President of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (REFIDOMSA), Francisco Javier García, told El Siglo yesterday that REFIDOMSA has met all requirements, changes, specifications and adjustments required of them by the Directorate General of Norms and Quality Systems (DIGENOR) for the changeover to unleaded gasoline on January 1. Beginning in January leaded gas will no longer be sold in the DR. Instead, stations will offer two types of unleaded (currently only one type if offered): unleaded regular, with 89 octane, and unleaded premium, with 95 octane. REFIDOMSA says both will be sold to consumers at RD$22 per gallon.

The new airline on the block
Queen Air is the newest alternative for flying to the United States, Europe and South America. The new airline will begin flying on the Santo Domingo-New York-Santo Domingo starting 1 December. Queen Air will be using an Airbus A-320 with capacity for 170 passengers. Emely Tours entrepreneurs, Julio Rosario and Emilia Pichardo hosted a reception at the Santo Domingo Country Club to promote the airline. Queen Air has 18% of the flight contracted by a tour operator that brings tourists staying at Allegro Resorts hotels. Queen Air will be operating closely with Transmeridian of the United States, since Dominican airlines have not yet received authorization to fly to the US by the FAA.
The airline has invested US$3 million in the launching stage, and will be investing US$10 million in the first year of operations.
During the event held to announce the airline at the Santo Domingo Country Club, Julio Rosario explained why he believes the new airline will be a success. During the period 1991-1997, while the flow of travelers to the Dominican Republic increased 15%, ethnic travel grew only 3%. Tourists traveling to the DR increased 23%. Rosario concludes that in the tourist trade is where the business is. In his opinion, while those traveling to the DR to visit family and friends will continue to grow slowly, the principal source of passengers will come from those traveling to the DR for leisure purposes. Thus Queen Air is targeting the tourist market, and will seek to serve non-traditional markets where the major airlines do not dominate.
The airline has requested and obtained authorization to fly to New York, Miami, San Juan and Caracas, traditional routes, but they feel a good part of their business will be serving routes in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo (Brazil), Santiago de Chile, Spain and Italy.
The airline's first airplane will arrive 28 November and will be used for short routes. The airline will have two other wide cabin airplanes for intercontinental flights and charters to Europe and South America.

OAS-funded documentary on the Mirabal Sisters to air on the Discovery Channel
A documentary being filmed in the Dominican Republic about the famous Mirabal Sisters is slated for showing on the Discovery Channel. Las Mirabal are three sisters killed on November 25, 1959 for their open and vocal opposition to the dictator Rafael Trujillo. They became a focus of outrage against the Trujillo regime and a symbol of anti-Trujillo resistance. The "docu-fiction" (a mixture of documentary and dramatic recreation of events) is entitled "El Triunfo de la Mariposas" ("Triumph of the Butterflies") and has been produced by Accent Media and directed by Chilean Cecilia Domeyko, who also wrote the script. One third of the film's funding is provided by the Organization of American States (OAS), one third by Accent Media and the final third by the DR's Department for the Promotion of Women (DGPM). The film will be released to movie theaters across the DR on November 25, 1999, the 40th anniversary of the sisters' assassination. It will also show on the Discovery Channel, and DGPM has the national rights to the film and plans to eventually distribute it in VHS tape form to all schools as educational material.

Meteorite rainfall expected
If you can deal with getting up at 3 am to be at the Museum of Natural History by 3:45 am, then you can get a look at the meteorite rainfall that can be spectacularly seen by telescope at dawn of Wednesday, 17 November. The Museum is charging RD$50 admission. The rainfall of baseball to sand grain sized particles, known as Leonidas, are produced by Comet Tempel-Tyttle as it encounters the Earth, a phenomenon that occurs every 33 years. The phenomenon can be observed from anywhere in the DR at 4:05. It is best to view it from a place where there are little outside lights. As explained, the skies will come alive with a fireworks show, the result of the cascade of lights as 140,000 meteorites per hour cross the sky. While the meteorites do not endanger humans on Earth, they could affect satellites orbiting around Earth.

Sammy Sosa bringing money back from Japan for Hurricane Georges victims
Dominican home run king Sammy Sosa yesterday sold at auction in Japan bats and uniforms to raise US$37,000 to bring home to the DR to help the families left homeless by Hurricane Georges. He also visited with Japan's Foreign Minister, Masahiko Komura, to solicit Japanese aid for the Dominican reconstruction effort in the wake of Hurricane Georges.

Escogido Lions beat Northeast Giants, securing third place
Los Leones del Escogido routed the Gigantes del Nordeste yesterday, 11-3, in a game played in San Francisco de Macoris. In the process the Lions secured at least third place in the Winter Professional Baseball Tournament. The two teams are due to play each other again today at 8 PM in Quisqueya Stadium, while the Licey Tigers and Cibao Eagles will play at 8 PM in Cibao Stadium.

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