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Daily News - 08 February 1999

Medics, teachers and bus unions threaten to strike
In January it was the Dominican Municipal League, last week it was the public school breakfast milk contamination scandal, and now expect the newspapers to focus on the strikes of teachers, medics and the Fenatrano bus union. The teachers and medics say they seek salary increases, and the Fenatrano, whose members have been affected by the modernization of transport in Santo Domingo, seek a reduction in the price of gasoline and the supposed RD$400 million owed by the government due to a RD$2,000-per taxi subsidy the government started to pay chauffeurs at the time it increased the price of gasoline.
This new string of strikes reflects the tension between the three majority political parties, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, and the ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana. The strikes had been frequent in 1998, up to the point where the three parties attempted to sit down to talks. The politicians were not able to reach agreements to put political disputes behind them and get on with matters of more interest to the nation.
Rather, lack of vision and political errors led to the constitution of a Central Electoral Board by the PRD-majority Senate, the election of a PRD-dissident to preside the Chamber of Deputies, and the election of a PRSC man as secretary general, bringing the nation's strongest political party, the PRD to clash with the government. Making matters worse within the PRD, a party with a history of internal confrontations and power pulls, is that the party has not yet chosen who of many aspirants, will be the party's presidential candidate in the year 2000 elections.
Technical Secretary of the Presidency, Temístocles Montás, speaking for the PLD, said the strikes are promoted by the PRD, to create a bad image internationally for the DR. He explained that the economy is going so well —"The Economist" forecast the DR would have the highest growth rate in the world in 1999— that the PRD needs to try to create an impression of major problems in the DR in order to maintain its aspirations to win the presidency in year 2000. PRD spokesman Tony Raful rejected the party is behind the strike movements, but said they feel the strikers have fair demands.
While the strikes are barely noticeable to DR1 readers, and most people in Santo Domingo and resort areas, in smaller cities in the internal provinces, passionate protesters are known to clash with the police.

Independents not happy with Congress or the JCE
The Listín Diario, the leading Dominican newspaper, published today results of a survey of "independents", persons not affiliated to any political party and who are known to decide the presidential elections in the DR.
The Listín Diario/Sigma Dos revealed that 48% of Dominicans that are not members of any political party have little confidence in the capacity of the Junta Central Electoral to organize the year 2000 presidential elections. The JCE judges have been objected by the PRSC and PLD on grounds that the judges that were elected by the PRD-majority Senate without consulting the other political parties. The president of the JCE is said to be a renown PRD activist and is strongly objected by former President Joaquín Balaguer of the PRSC.
The Listín survey was carried out 23-26 January by the Sigma Dos, a renown Spanish polling firm. 58.4% of those that identified themselves as PRD voters said the present JCE is trustworthy.
The survey also showed that 62% of those interviewed feel the National Congress has not carried out satisfactory work. Broken down by political affiliations, 70% of the PRSC voters, 66% of the PLD voters and 58.8% of the PRD voters said they feel the performance of the Congress has not been satisfactory. Congressmen are the best paid Dominican officers and those that have a reputation for enthusiastically working for their personal interests, but not for the interests of the Dominican people in general.

Top government officers travel to Miami to meet with Balaguer
Top government officers, Danilo Medina, political strategist of the government party and Secretary to the Presidency, Miguel Cocco, director of the Customs Department and Minister of Agriculture Amilcar Romero traveled to Miami over the weekend to visit former President Balaguer who is recovering at the home of close ally Guaroa Liranzo. The group visited with the 93-year old former statesman for 45 minutes, the Listin Diario reported. They were accompanied by Dominican government consul general, Javier González. They reported back that they found Dr. Balaguer in good mood and relatively good health, given his age.
Balaguer also received a commission of PRSC members that work in the Fernández administration. These were Modesto Guzmán, Postal Office director; Annie Felipe, director of Passports; and Carmen Leyda Mora, Deputy Minister of Public Works.
While Balaguer's party, the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano placed third in the presidential elections, it is expected that independents and members of this party will mean the difference in who wins the Presidency in year 2000. As has occurred for years, today the nonagenarian continues to call the shots in politics, or as they say " "lo que diga Balaguer" still has much weight.

Santo Domingo mayor rejects funding through LMD
Santo Domingo Mayor Johnny Ventura maintained his position to not accept city moneys through Senator Amable Aristy Castro's Liga Municipal Dominicana. The PRD mayors united last week and handed the Presidency their request that the moneys be distributed directly through the Treasury. Nevertheless, many of those who signed the PRD petition have later visited the LMD, or the government organization that administers funding of the city governments, to receive their monthly city government allotments.

Tragic boat crossing
Fourteen of 36 Dominicans that attempted to reach Puerto Rico by illegal boat trip died tragically over the weekend, Elpidio Báez, director of Civil Defense reported. 22 survivors of the boat trip were hospitalized after being rescued by a merchant ship and brought to Haina Port in Santo Domingo. The others died of inanition. The tragedy occurred because the motor of the boat broke down in the middle of the rough seas of the Mona Channel crossing. The survivors threw those who died first overboard. The survivors were taken to the Hospital Luis Aybar in Santo Domingo.

New US legislation includes provision for CBI parity
The DR stands to benefit greatly from legislation introduced last week in the US Senate. Taking advantage of the more sympathetic climate in Congress following the acknowledgment of damages caused by hurricanes Georges and Mitch in the region, Senator Robert Graham (D-Florida), and a bipartisan group, sponsored new legislation, the "Central America and Caribbean Relief Act." The bill includes a provision for CBI-party, which they say would be the most effective way to speed economic recovery in the storm-damaged region through enhanced trade, emergency U.S. bilateral assistance, and multilateral financial aid.
The so-called CBI-party would permit Caribbean and Central American nations the same trade benefits afforded to Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The US, Mexico and Canada are the three current members of NAFTA.
Senator Graham explained, upon introducing the bill, that without CBI parity, the region's manufacturing base will not have the incentives it needs to grow during this period of reconstruction. That could result in massive refugee flows to the United States and a decades-long dependence on U.S. food and medical aid, he said.
Graham explained that by lowering trade barriers on all sides of the Caribbean Sea, CBI has spurred exports, investments, and employment creation for both the United States and its trading partners. When Congress passed the first CBI in 1983, the United States had a $700 million trade deficit with the Caribbean nations. By 1993, that deficit had become a $2,000 million surplus, Graham said.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said last week he supports the effort. The bill faces opposition from Senators Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and Fritz Hollings, D-S.C.
The Journal of Commerce has been covering the issue on the Internet.

Free Enterprise, Monopolies and Consumer Rights Workshop
As part of the continued legal education program of the Fundación Institucionalidad y Justicia, Inc., lawyers, businessmen and interested parties are invited to attend a workshop on "Free Enterprise, Monopolies and Consumer Rights". The seminar will take place, Saturday 20 February at the Hotel Lina in Santo Domingo. Registration is open through 16 February. Speakers are Angélica Noboa, Kelly Brown, Manuel José Cabral, Edwin Croes, Jaime Aristy Escuder, Leyda Margarita Piña, Leonel Melo, Juan Reyes. Those interested can apply online at emailing Celia Rosario or Daniela de Moya at [email protected], or calling 688-1288/fax 689-3928. The Fundación Institucionalidad y Justicia has a web site

Innovative fuel could eliminate power deficit in DR
Dominican government officers traveled to Florida last week to see a laboratory demonstration of the Toups Technology Licensing Inc.'s AquaFuel production process, and view a prototype of an AquaFuel plant being constructed by Dixie Arc. A press release from the company states that the group was scheduled to meet at TTL's 50,000 sq. ft. research facility in Largo, Florida. The government officers traveled to Florida to discuss the development of the first AquaFuel commercial production facility destined for the DR and the potential benefit of AquaFuel to the country's economy and environment.
Representatives from the Dominican government that visited 3-5 February included: Eng. Ernesto Reyna, environmental adviser to the President; Eng. Radhamés Lora, general
director of Forestry; and Bolivar Rodriguez, director of industrialization.
The group was slated to be joined by officers and directors of AquaFuel-Dominicana (AFD), an estimated $1.44 billion joint
venture between TTL and a consortium of private electric utilities in the DR. These include John Rivera, president of AFD, and Isaias Arbaje, vice-president of AFD and former sub-secretary of agriculture for the DR.
"Successful introduction of AquaFuel to the Dominican Republic will have significant implications,'' Rivera states on the newswire.
"The DR suffers from an annual shortfall of 500-600 megawatts of electrical energy and every year the government subsidizes propane use in the amount of US$380 million. Widespread use of AquaFuel presents a potential solution for the DR.''
TTL commercializes late-stage technologies primarily in the energy environment and natural resource market segments. The company's technologies include AquaFuel, an alternative fuel derived from electric carbon arcs in water, that produces no harmful emissions; Balanced Oil Recovery Lift device which increase marginal oil field production; Multi-Purpose Generators which provide electric power co-generation that automatically parallels with the local utility power grid; Electromagnetic Tire Recycling that converts scrap tires into marketable products without emissions. TTL's two wholly-owned subsidiaries include Advanced Micro Welding/Metal Fabrication and Brounley
Engineering & Associates which provides radio frequency power generators for lasers, plasma etching and other applications. For further information, visit the company's web site
Despite the size of the proposed fuel plant, this story has not yet been covered by the main dailies of Santo Domingo.

Passengers affected by no-shows of AA pilots
American Airlines pilots assigned to the New York-Santo Domingo route did not show up over the weekend, alleging health problems and other reasons. The airline re-routed passengers on connecting flights to Miami and Puerto Rico and direct flights on board Continental and TWA that also cover the NY route. On Saturday, all flights were suspended. Several passengers that could postpone their flights were sent home with transportation vouchers.

Washington Post urges to take a look at Punta Cana
The Washington Post carried a news item last week highlighting how Punta Cana is fast becoming the up-and-coming tourist destination for US tourists. The story highlights how even First Lady Hillary Clinton has been a tourist in Punta Cana. To read the story,

Department of Migration reminds non-residents to arrive with return tickets
The director of the Department of Migration, Danilo Díaz said that all foreigners that land in the DR without their return tickets will be deported. He reminded the airlines that they can only sell one-way tickets to foreigners with legal residence in the DR. Otherwise, it is against the law. Recently, Migration deported seven Europeans that came on board an Air Europa flight without their return tickets. Díaz said that primarily charter airlines have been selling one-way tickets to foreigners that are residents in the DR but have not legalized their status.

Warmer weather forecast
The first week of February was one of the coldest in recent years in the DR. The Listín Diario carried a report over the weekend on the low temperatures the country has suffered as a result of more than the usual amount of cold fronts passing over national territory. The good news is that the Weather Department is forecasting higher minimum temperatures and warmer days ahead. The National Weather Office is forecasting that the minimum temperatures for Santo Domingo will be 19-21°C, up from an earlier 17°C. Noontime temperatures of 28-30°C are also forecast. Frequent short showers are expected to continue. The coldest temperature reported in the DR occurred on 25 January 1956, when the thermometer showed 0°C in the mountain valley town of Constanza.
Listín Diario highlighted the following minimum temperatures for early morning during the first week of February:
City Temp Date Record low
Santo Domingo: 17.2°C on 1 February 1999 (11°C, 1956)
Puerto Plata: 17.2°C on 2 February (14°C, 1986)
Constanza: 6°C on 2 February 1999 (0°C, 1956)
Jimaní: 18.2°C on 3 February 1999 (15°C, 1978)
Las Americas Airport: 16°C on 1 February 1999 (11.4°C, 1997)
Mao: 15°C on 31 January (11°C, 1956)
Sabana de la Mar: 15.5°C on 1 February 1999 (12°C, 1945)

Gloria Estefan coming for Casandra Awards ceremony
Do not miss the television broadcast of the Casandra Awards, the Dominican show in the style of the Oscars awards ceremony on Tuesday, evening. The Casandra awards are given to 47 categories of Dominican show business. Several outstanding Hispanic stars are coming for the show, including José Luís Rodríguez (known as El Puma, and for being an outstanding soap opera star and singer), Chayanne (from Puerto Rico, who stared in the recent film with Vanessa Williams), Elvis Crespo (Puerto Rico's leading merengue performer, whose album "Suavemente" is nominated to a Grammy in the US) and Gloria and Emilio Estefan, trend setters in Hispanic music in the US. The members of the Dominican association of show business chroniclers (Acroarte) gathered on Sunday to vote on the nominated performers.

The new place to be on weekends — Paseo de las Trinitarias
The Paseo de las Trinitarias will soon be high up on the list of attractions of the city of Santo Domingo. The kilometer-long boulevard the government built atop the tunnels under Avenida 27 de Febrero between Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill avenues will lure city residents with nights of Latin beats, rock, jazz and big band music on weekends. The board that is in charge of the boulevard announced that Grupo Maniel will perform "son" music on Thursdays as of 7:30 pm; Friday is jazz night; and on Saturdays the music starts early with groups playing the music of the 50s, 60s, and 70s leading into contemporary Dominican rock with the performance of Tabu Tec, Toque Profundo, Tribu del Sol and Al Jadaqui groups. On Sundays, the big band of Bienvenido Bustamante will perform from 5:30 pm to the enjoyment of the entire family.
The boulevard features an outstanding collection of Dominican sculptures carried out by Bismarck Victoria, Said Musa, Johnny Bonelly, Soucy de Pellerano, Joaquín Ciprián, Luichy Martínez Richiez and Jose Ramón Rotellini, two cybernetic fountains and a laser lights show, plus palm tree and bougainvillea garden.

Puerto Rico vs. DR in Caribbean Series baseball finals tonight
The DR baseball team that had gotten off to a good start in the Caribbean Series, winning its first three games, lost to Puerto Rico last night. The Mayaguez Indians tied the Caribbean Series to 4-2, managing to stay alive for a final seventh deciding game. DR had earlier defeated Puerto Rico 5-1 but last night lost to Puerto Rico 5-6. The game ended dramatically. The Puerto Rican team scored three runs in the ninth inning. The DR had been in control of the game after a five-run in the seventh inning gave the Licey Tigers a commanding 5-0 lead. The DR is the defending champion of the Caribbean Series, having won the 1997 and 1998 championship titles.
The DR's record in the double round robin series was as follows:
Dominicana vs. Venezuela 10-2
Dominicana vs. Mexico 6-3
Dominicana vs. Puerto Rico 5-1
Dominicana vs. Venezuela 1-3
Dominicana vs. Mexico 5-4
Dominicana vs. Puerto Rico 5-6
Final standings after Sunday's games:
Dominican Republic 4-2
Puerto Rico 4-2
Mexico 2-4
Venezuela 2-4

Luis Felipe López scores eight in his first NBA game
Luis Felipe Lopez scored eight points in the 20 minutes of his first appearance in the National Basketball Association professional league. He played the last quarter against the Sacramento Kings. His team, the Vancouver Grizzlies lost to Sacramento 109-87.

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