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Daily News - 30 November 1998

Free trade agreement signed with Central America
The Dominican Republic and Central America finalized negotiations and signed the Free Trade Agreement in Miami, on Saturday, 28 November. This is the first free trade agreement completed by the Dominican Republic. A second trade agreement is negotiated with the CARICOM nations of the Caribbean. Ambassador Frederich Emam-Zadé was the nation's leading negotiator.
Negotiations leading to the final signing concluded 5 November in El Salvador.
Excluded from free trade status are sugar, ethyl alcohol, petroleum by products, corn flour, coffee, and poultry. Despite the final signing, still pending is the status of textile products.
The treaty could be effective as of 1 January 1999, if the Dominican Congress approves the bill. Only one Central American nation needs to approve the bill for it to go into effect in Central America.
The agreement creates a consumer market of more than 40 million persons in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

Quick pass for budget bill
With unaccustomed expedience, the Chamber of Deputies approved the National Budget Bill. The budget totals RD$44,671 million, and if passed by the Senate would go into effect 1 January 1999.
The Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) block within the Chamber of Deputies complained that the bill was approved because of covert negotiations between the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) and the ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana.
The bill now goes to the Senate for approval.
The president of the Chamber of Deputies Hector Peguero Méndez, a dissident PRD man, was the only deputy to speak during the 35-minute session in which the bill was passed. The Chamber of Deputies made adjustments for RD$400 million pesos, shifting funding from one ministry or department to another. Both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate received increased allotments for RD$63 million in the negotiations. The Judicial Branch also received RD$100 million more in its budget.

A powerful Christmas promised
The executive administrator of the Dominican Electricity Corporation (CDE), Radhamés Segura is promising there will be no blackouts during the Christmas holidays. He said that there will be an abundance of power supply in December. Furthermore, the CDE is advancing on its restoring of power to the entire DR and said that this week the service will be back in Miches, Guaymate and Sabana Grande de Boyá, the last areas that are remaining to be reconnected after Hurricane Georges downed transmission lines. The promise is believed as traditionally blackouts diminish considerably during Christmas.

Tragedy affects med school faculty and students
Two minibuses crashed on Saturday on the San Pedro de Macorís-Hato Mayor highway, in the East. Seven persons died. One of the minibuses was transporting a team of doctors and graduate medical students from the Universidad Central del Este (UCE) that were on their way to assist persons affected by Hurricane Georges in Yerba Buena, Hato Mayor. Some 35 persons suffered injuries. The Presidency sent two helicopters to rescue the seriously injured and transport them to Santo Domingo hospitals. The accident occurred at Km. 18, near the Batey Cachena of the Ingenio Consuelo. First press reports indicate that Dr. Eddy Marte, who teaches at the Universidad Central del Este, died in the accident.

FBI grabs suspected assassin in NY
President Leonel Fernández authorized the Attorney General's office to begin procedures to request the extradition of former Dominican Air Force officer Mariano Durán Cabrera. He is said to be the person who fired the shots that killed journalist Orlando Martínez Howley, on 17 March 1975. The case is now being heard by the judiciary, after more than 20 years of being regarded as untouchable.
Durán Cabrera was arrested on Saturday, 28 November in the Bronx, New York by the FBI, with the assistance of Dominican judicial authorities who located him after a seven month search, according to press reports.
Durán Cabrera was in the Air Force since 1968, serving with the J2 Special Services of the Armed Forces until 1983.
In 1983 he moved to New York City where he owned a liquor store in the Bronx.
The Orlando Martínez case implicates several high ranking retired Dominican military.

Vice President is preferred PLD candidate for year 2000
A Hamilton & Staff survey commissioned by Hoy newspaper shows that Vice President Jaime David Fernández Mirabal is the ruling party's preferred presidential candidate in the year 2000 presidential elections. The survey was carried out from 7-12 November throughout the entire Dominican Republic. President Leonel Fernández placed second. By a constitutional modification in 1994, he is impeded to run for re-election. Jaime David Fernández received 49% of the preferences, President Leonel Fernández, 34%, Franklin Almeyda, a PLD politician, placed third with 24%, and Danilo Medina, Secretary of the Presidency, was fourth with 22%.

Milagros Ortiz is preferred PRD candidate
The Hamilton & Staff survey also revealed that Santo Domingo senator, Milagros Ortíz Bosch is the preferred candidate of Dominican citizens for the presidential candidacy of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD). Ortiz Bosch leads with the approval of 40 of every 100 voters; agribusiness man Hipólito Mejía is in second place with 38 votes; Rafael Suberví Bonilla, a former two-time mayor of Santo Domingo, is third with 10 votes; Hatuey Decamps, secretary general of the PRD, follows with 5.

Dominicans say political blah blah helps little
58% of Dominicans agree that the political opposition's present style of criticism contributes little to resolve the problems of the Dominican Republic. A Hamilton & Staff survey commissioned by Hoy newspaper from 7-12 November 1998 showed that 41% of Dominicans agreed with the statement that the opposition criticizes a lot and does nothing to help resolve the country's problems. 17% said they partially agree with the statement.

Who's blocking progress?
The same Hamilton & Staff survey showed that 28 of every 100 citizens believe that Congress is blocking the development of the President Leonel Fernández government plan for the progress of the country; 27% believe it is the cabinet and President Leonel Fernandez who impede the Congress from doing their job; while 26% believe that the branches of government simultaneously block each other.

Japanese donate almost US$1 million
The Social Democrat party of Japan donated US$864,406.78 to the Dominican government to assist victims of the Hurricane Georges. Vice President Jaime David Fernández Mirabal received the money from Japanese congress men Hiroshi Kawaushi and Tadatoshi Shiakiba, who traveled to the DR for the donation ceremony that took place at the National Palace. Kawaushi brought a check for US$847,457.63 and Shiakiba one for US$16,949.15. They were accompanied by the Japanese ambassador in the country, Masato Akazawa.

Products exhibition at Ciudad Ganadera
Expo Herrera is taking place at the exhibition grounds of the Ciudad Ganadera in Santo Domingo. Expo Herrera is the largest exhibition of products manufactured in the Dominican Republic. It opened 27 November and will continue through 6 December. Admission is free.

Tickets on sale for Altos de Chavón Concert
Sammy Sosa, whose idea to celebrate a mega benefit concert following Hurricane Georges caught on with leading contemporary Hispanic music stars Gloria Estefan and Juan Luis Guerra, promises that a second mega concert will be organized at the Santo Domingo Olympic Stadium (capacity about 45,000) for those that can't get tickets to attend the first concert. Sammy Sosa said that his friends will participate in a benefit good-bye concert. The stars of this show were not announced, but it was said that several of the stars of the first show could repeat for the second. At the same press conference, George Nader, promoter of the 12 December Altos de Chavón concert, starring Juan Luis Guerra and 4-40, Gloria Estefan, Shakira, Carlos Ponce, Angelita Carrasco, José Antonio Molina, and Jon Secada, announced that Turinter, a major tour operator and travel agency based in Santo Domingo, is in charge of bus packages. The bus package is selling for RD$150 for the transport cost which includes a cap, beverages and snacks. The Altos de Chavón amphitheater, located in La Romana, has capacity for about 5,000 persons. Accommodations in the area are scarce as Casa de Campo, the main hotel, will not be reopening until 20 December.
Tickets are selling for RD$5,000 and RD$600. They are for sale at Pizza Hut, Musicalia, and the Listin Diario. Only two tickets will be sold per person.

President Fernández favors hosting of Pan Am Games
In the presence of the Minister of Sports Juan Marichal, Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña and the president of the Dominican Olympic Committee, Dr. José Joaquín Puello, President Leonel Fernández confirmed his government's support to the COD's request for the site of the year 2003 Pan American Sports Games. Following Hurricane Georges, there was speculation that the President would no longer support the celebration of the games in Santo Domingo.
"Because of Hurricane Georges, we felt that consultations needed to take place to determine the continuation of this project, and we have carried these out at government level and with organizations dealing with sports and reached the conclusion that the DR can continue to request that Santo Domingo be chosen to host the games in year 2003," President Fernández told visiting delegates on Saturday, 28 November.
The president of the Panama Olympic Committee, Melitón Sánchez said that "everyone's heart is with Santo Domingo," referring to the many years of lobbying of the Dominican Olympic Committee members. The DR lost by only one vote the right to host the Pan Am Games of 1999. The DR is counting on the vote of the smaller Caribbean states to win the site.
The site of the games will be awarded 6 December in Panama City. A delegation of members representing 17 Olympic committees from the Americas visited Santo Domingo last week to ascertain that the city will be an adequate site for the games. Forty-two olympic committees of the Americas will cast their vote. Countries that have hosted Pan American Games are allowed two votes.
The DR is competing with Guadalajara, Mexico and Medellín, Colombia. These two cities are offering to cover most expenses of visiting delegations. Guadalajara is sweetening their offer adding a monthly payment of US$50,000 to help participants prepare for the games.
Guadalajara and Medellín boast most of the necessary sports facilities and need but to build the Olympic village and one or two minor facilities. In the DR millionaire investments in renovating and repairing sports facilities and building others that do not exist are necessary. Supporters say that the Games will boost the economy in general and develop sports. Detractors feel that the money that will be invested in building facilities for the games are better invested in other areas, including in the development of sports in general, and that hosting the games at this time would be unnecessary strain on the country's finances.

Cuba wins Pan Am Judo Championship
Cuba won the 22nd Pan American Judo Championship held in Santo Domingo over the weekend. The Cubans won 12 gold medals, one silver and two bronze in the championship. The event is a classifying round for the Pan Am Games of 1999 to be held in Winnipeg, Canada. The United States placed second, Brazil was third, the US came in fourth. The DR won five medals, all bronze. Teams came from Canada, the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Ecuador, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Barbados, Aruba and Curaçao.

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