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Daily News - 08 December 1998

Orlando case drama postponed to January
The trial concerning the 1975 murder of journalist Orlando Mart'nez Howley reopened yesterday, only to be postponed again until January 28 by Judge Katia Jiménez. Martínez had been critical of the Balaguer administration, but it is believed that he may have been assassinated because he was about to uncover in his column an economic scandal involving the State Sugar Council (CEA). In his famous biography, "Memories of a Courtesan," former President Joaqu'n Balaguer left a bank page (No. 295) about the case that he said would be filled in after his death.
Attending yesterday were the five former military men standing trial ­ retired generals Salvador Lluberes Montás ("Chinino"), Joaquín Antonio Pou Castro and José Isidoro Martínez, plus former military Rafael Alfredo Lluberes Ricart and Luis Emilio de la Rosa ­ as well as all the witnesses subpoenaed to testify except Dr. Balaguer (pleading a health excuse), and a packed public gallery. In the short session, Judge Jiménez agreed to a request by the Public Ministry to excuse ex-general Isidoro Martínez from the proceedings on the basis of grave health problems attested to by doctors at the Plaza de la Salud, but she ordered him to recuperate in a psychiatric hospital instead of at home as his counsel requested. Judge Jiménez also ordered re-incarceration of ex-general Lluberes Montás in an Armed Forces jail. "Chinino" has threatened to conduct a hunger strike until he is released again.
The judge adjourned the proceedings until January 28th in the hopes that the disposition if the DR's extradition request for alleged trigger-man Mariano Durán Cabrera will be know by then.

President to visit Europe in January
President Leonel Fernández will travel to Europe in January. His first stop will be Paris, where in three days he plans to meet the French President and Prime Minister, several Ministers, members of the judiciary and national parliament, and businessmen. Last weekend President Fernández revealed on the "Gordo de la Semana" television show that he would be seeking to get an unnamed French firm to invest in RD$1.6 billion project to construct a new potable water delivery system in the northeast. After France, President Fernández will go to the Vatican, where he is scheduled for an audience with Pope John Paul II on January 18th. Still unclear is whether the President's trip will include a state visit to Italy. A European tour including Italy was originally scheduled for this past October, but was postponed because of Hurricane Georges. This will be the President's 20th trip abroad since taking office in August 1996.

Venezuelan President-elect to visit DR
The newly-elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, said yesterday that he will visit the Dominican Republic as part of a mini-tour before he takes office on February 2, 1999. Chávez, at 44 the youngest President ever elected in Venezuela, won handily over the weekend by riding the wave of public discontent with Venezuela's traditional political parties. Chávez said he will make his first trip to the DR, Brazil and Colombia to emphasize his plans to make Venezuela a bridge between the Caribbean, the Andean nations and the nations of the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR). He said that he plans to make closer ties with the DR the pillar of his Caribbean policy.

Government rejects amplification of ITBIS base
Two key officials of the Fernández Government yesterday rejected the idea recently suggested from many quarters of amplifying the base of the Transfer Tax on Industrial Goods and Services (ITBIS). In response to the Administration's tax reform proposal recently submitted to Congress, several legislators, business groups and economists have suggested simply expanding the scope of application of the ITBIS rather than raise the tax as high as the Administration wants (from the present 8% to 14%). The idea was rejected by the Director of the National Planning Office (ONAPLAN), Rafael Camilo, and the head of the Directorate-General for Internal Revenue (DGII), Juan Hernández. ONAPLAN helped prepare the reform plan, and DGII would be in charge of enforcing any changes made in the tax code. Both argued that many of the businesses currently excluded from ITBIS ­ beauty salons, repair shops, dry cleaners, gymnasiums ­ could not support payment of the tax. Camilo asserted that adding them would not generate enough revenues to cover the revenues losses anticipated under tariff-cutting proposed by the government, so why "sacrifice" them?
The two officials also rejected complaints by the alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries about the proposed increase in the Selective Consumption Tax (CSI) on their products. The government had already negotiated a similar increase with these industries in 1997, but it was never applied, pointed out Camilo. Hernández argued that these industries have a significant input of imported primary materials that will benefit from the tariff reductions.

Peynado: Balaguer should not pick PRSC candidate
Interviewed yesterday on the television program "Uno + Uno," former Vice President and 1996 Reformista Party (PRSC) presidential candidate Jacinto Peynado warned that the Party's head, ex-President Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, should not attempt to pick, suggest or impose his own candidate for the presidential elections in the year 2000. Tapping a particular favorite "is not advisable," he asserted, because the party militants will not accept a candidate imposed by the top. Peynado, picked in recent polls as the man most Dominicans would like to see as the PRSC presidential candidate in the next elections, has advocated the use of primaries.
In reaction, PRSC Secretary Johnny Jones yesterday voiced support for the use of primaries, and noted that Dr. Balaguer also expressed support for the concept at the last Party convention. He advised Peynado to stop worrying, that Balaguer would not try to impose his own candidate for the party.
Jones and a member of the Party's Central Executive Directorate, Leoncio Almánzar, both opined that Peynado would be the best presidential candidate for the PRSC in the year 2000. Jones said that the organization Peynado built during the 1996 elections gives him a support base with which it is impossible for him to lose the party's nomination. Almánzar amended that Peynado enjoys the widest support of the Dominican people, and not just for his recent work, but rather for more than 15 years of public life.

Cogentrix to build 300 megavolt generating facility
The Fernández government signed last night a contract with the firm Cogentrix Energy regarding a 300 megavolt power generation facility to be built in San Pedro de Macor's. The three-generator complex represents an investment of US$267 million. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has said that it will finance US$75 million of the deal, while CDC, a development finance arm of the British government, will cofinance an unspecified portion of the remainder. Signing the deal for the government was Technical Secretary of the Presidency Temístocles Montás, who hailed the agreement as something "completely new." The government is not buying the plants or otherwise shouldering debt; rather, it is simply guaranteeing a market for the electricity they generate. The complex is slated to enter into operation before August 16, 2000, the end of President Fernández's term of office.

Government announces anti-traffic jam measures
The Fernández government announced yesterday a series of emergency measures intended to relieve during the holidays some of the severe transit congestion plaguing Santo Domingo. Among other things, the Juan Pablo Duarte Bridge will be made one-way on Saturdays and a system of detours will be instituted in key spots on Duarte, Mella and 27 de Febrero avenues. In addition, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (AMET) police will take over traffic direction at the intersections of 27 de Febrero with the following streets: Churchill, Lincoln, Tiradentes, Ortega y Gasset, Máximo Gómez and Leopoldo Navarro, while the National Police (PN) will handle traffic direction on major arteries feeding 27 de Febrero. The Public Works Ministry has been charged with cleaning up the many open ditches and rubble piles it has left around the city, which have contributed to impeding traffic flows.

Bottlers to government: give DIGENOR resources
The President of the Dominican Association of Purified Water Bottlers (ADEAGUA), David Toribio Lantigua, yesterday urged the government to provide the Directorate of Norms and Quality Systems (DIGENOR) the resources it needs to properly test and certify the quality of all bottled water in the nation. Toribio Lantigua asserted that DIGENOR has personnel qualified to do the task, but the agency lacks physical resources ­ such as vehicles and a laboratory ­ to properly test and certify the nation's numerous bottled water producers. DIGENOR also needs more people qualified to do inspections and certifications, and to pay them salaries that would keep them working at DIGENOR instead of moving to the private sector. Last week the head of the Public Health Ministry's Environmental Health Directorate revealed that most bottled water in the DR does not comply with DIGENOR's current mineral content standards.

Kilometer long of toys
Kilometer long line of toys donated for needy Dominican children is being organized by the women's organization of the Hotel Association of Santo Domingo, Comité de Damas de la Asociación de Hoteles de Santo Domingo (CODAHOSD). First time ever event in the city, will take place Saturday, 12 December along the Malecón, starting at 9:30 am. There will be music, prizes for those contributing toys, food and refreshments.
The kilometer of toys will be placed on the sidewalk stretch of the Malecón fronting the Jaragua, Meliá and V Centenario hotels. Persons interested in participating can just show up with their children and toys to be donated and lay them down with the others. Organizers hope the line will be a kilometer long with the help of everyone.
For more information, call Helen Serrano at Tel. 221-2222 or email [email protected]
The event is organized by Eva María de Barceló and Belkis Guerra (Allegro Resorts), Teresa Espínola Moya (Ceprisa), Mireya Geondeau (Meliá Santo Domingo), Laura Aguilar de Gómez (Frito Lay), Olga Inés de Gutiérrez (Embassy of Mexico), Josefita de Henríquez (El Siglo newspaper), Arlete Longo (language therapist), Deyanira de Martín (Hotel Hispaniola), Mirna Pimentel de Terrero (Hotel Naco), Ivelisse de Porcella (Hotel San Gerónimo), María Luisa Ruíz (Hotel V Centenario), Fanny Sánchez (Apartahotel Colonial).
Helen Serrano (Hotel Jaragua) presides the Committee.

Licey loses to Giants in 1st of 3 back-to-back games
The Northeast Giants beat the Licey Tigers 6-3 last night in Santo Domingo's Quisqueya Stadium on the strength of a four-run rally in the seventh inning. The loss put Licey back to 4-1/2 games behind the Cibao Eagles in the Winter Professional Baseball Tournament.
Licey and the Giants will have a double-header today at Julian Javier Stadium in San Francisco de Macorís, the first game starting at 5:00 pm and the second scheduled for 8:00 pm. Meanwhile the Eagles are to face the Escogido Lions at 8:00 pm in Quisqueya Stadium.

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