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Daily News - 22 February 1999

Samaná Airport opened
The government opened on Saturday the Arroyo Barril International Airport in Samaná for domestic flights and small international carriers, such as American Eagle. The government has spent almost RD$300 million in the expansion of the airport. Arturo Villanueva, vice president of the Hotel Association, says he is optimistic some 15 to 30 flights a week could land there this year.
The airport's capacity is perfect to suit Samaná's present hotel accommodations, which are distributed among small lodgings of less than 50 rooms. The Interamerican Development Bank national tourism planning study recommended low density hotels and the development of small lodgings for the area and not mass tourism.
But Arturo Villanueva, of the Hotel Association, favors the construction of mega hotels in the area. He said investors are lined up to build an additional 6,000 hotel rooms in Samaná, if the government were to expand the airport to receive large jets. Studies have shown that the location chosen for the Arroyo Barril airport is a wrong one, primarily due to the nearby mountains and the lack of strength of the terrain. The expansion of the airport and landing field on site would be too expensive.
During the inaugural of the Samaná airport, Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez announced that the government contemplates eliminating income tax charges on the construction of hotels, discotheques and restaurants in the Southwest (Barahona and Pedernales) and Northwest (Montecristi) in order to spur the tourism development of those areas.

Accor hotel group plans 10 hotels for DR within next five years
The Accor hotel group, the largest in the world, is advancing on the remodeling of two hotels in the Colonial City area of Santo Domingo, in addition to the Hotel Francés already operating under the Sofitel brand.
The Hotel Francés, already in operation, has 19 rooms and operates in a 16th century building. It opened December 1998 after a remodeling that cost US$1 million. The Dominican government had already invested several million pesos in the rescuing of the building, that in the first half of the century served as a hotel lodging famous people that visited the city during those years.
Jean Marie Garraud was interviewed by the Listín Diario and confirmed that the Hotel Comercial on Calle Hostos off Calle El Conde should be operational by December of this year. It will offer 100 rooms and will operate under the Ibis brand name.
The third property, the Hostal Nicolás de Ovando (where King Juan Carlos of Spain stayed years ago), is scheduled to reopen in year 2000, after a US$12-14 million remodeling. This hotel will also operate under the Sofitel brand name. It will have a five star category.
Garraud explained that the hotel chain has plans to build two resorts in beach areas — a 500-room one in Punta Cana and another 300-room hotel in Samaná. These properties are slated for opening prior to 2003. He said Accor expects to have some 10 hotels operating in the DR within the next five years.
A recent Wall Street Journal story points out that Accor is very strong in Brazil. The devaluation of the Real has made Brazil vacations very competitive with those of the Caribbean, which could have a negative effect on Dominican tourism. Brazil is enjoying a boom in hotel construction responding to the increased demand. Accor alone has plans to invest US$600 million in 51 new Brazilian hotels.

New hotel in Dominicus Beach
Hotel Grand Dominicus is the newest hotel to open in La Romana. The hotel was built by the Italian group of investors head by Bruno Colombo, of Viages del Ventaglio. It has 448 rooms, three restaurants, three tennis courts, an Italian soccer court, amphitheater, and areas for water sports. The hotel is located adjacent to Viva Resort's Club Dominicus. Viva Resorts is constructing a third hotel in the area, the Club Taino that is slated to open by year's end.

New Dominican art museum
Dominican art collector Juan José Bellapart inaugurated over the weekend his Museo Bellapart, where he exhibits an important part of his art collection, one of the best, if not the best in the DR. The collection on exhibition earlier has toured Europe, with exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Palma de Mallorca prior to its showing in Santo Domingo. The collection has works from the end of the 1800 to mid 1900s. The works of art are displayed in such a manner that viewers get an overall view of the development of Dominican art. Luisa Auffant is the director of the museum.
On exhibition are works of Luis Desangles, Leopoldo Navarro, Abelardo Piñeyro, Abelardo Rodríguez Urdaneta, Adolfo García Obregtón, Enrique García Godoy, Celeste Wos y Gil and Fernando Báez. Also, Yoryi Morel, Jaime Colson and Darío Suro. Works of foreigners exiled in the DR, José Gausachs, George Hausdorf, Manolo Pascual, Eugenio Fernández Granell, José Vela Zanetti, Angel Botello Barros, Alfonso Vila and Ernest Lothar. Also Paul Giudicelli, Clara Ledesma, Gilberto Hernández Ortega, Luichy Martínez Richiez, Eligio Pichardo, Gaspar Mario Cruz, Dionisio Pichardo, Jorge Noceda Sánchez and José Ramírez Conde.
The new museum is located at John F. Kennedy Avenue.

France to increase aid and cooperation with the DR
The ambassador of France in the Dominican Republic, engineer Francois Javier Deniau said that the government of France has decided to include the Dominican Republic in their "priority cooperation zone", which will benefit Dominicans. France has been assisting the DR with the renovation of its judiciary. Key French justice officials are expected in Santo Domingo today. President Leonel Fernández visited France in January, and as a result cooperation has increased. Likewise, several major French investments are forthcoming and French companies are vying to win major privatization contracts, such as the one for the expansion of Dominican international airports.

Cardinal urges talks to focus on national agenda
Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez urged on Sunday that Dominican politicians put aside their own personal agendas and focus on subjects that are on the national agenda. He urged politicians to put behind them their "political mischief." He said that what the parties should be talking about are the national problems and not their own particular political problems. He said there has been a lack of vision on behalf of politicians. He criticized that in such a small country as the DR political passions reach irrational and untreadable positions. Local dailies, in contributions and editorials, have increasingly carried the feeling of the civil society and business groups that the shortsightedness of politicians, that are focusing on their individual gains, is an obstacle to national development.

President Fernández to lobby for DR with President Clinton
President Leonel Fernández will participate in the Central American summit meeting with US President Bill Clinton in Guatemala this coming 11 March. Dominicans and Central Americans are lobbying together to seek a freeze or reduction of the deportations of Dominicans who have been arrested for committing crimes in the US and are returned to the DR and Central America prior to fulfilling their sentences. Since they have nothing pending with the Dominican or Central American justice, these are left free and many use their acquired skills committing crimes in their home countries. It has been said that crime skills learned by these surpass the ability of local police authorities, which has been incidental in the increase in the crime rate in the DR and Central America. Another issue top on the agenda of the DR and Central American statesmen is textile parity with Mexico, which will allow the Caribbean and Central American to compete in equal conditions with Mexican apparel manufacturers.

Dr. Balaguer could return this week
Local press is speculating that former President Joaquín Balaguer could return to the DR on Thursday, 25 February. He would arrive on a private jet into the smaller Herrera International Airport, in the city of Santo Domingo. He had been scheduled to return last week, but because of medical check-ups with ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, he postponed his return. His followers are promoting a major welcome event.
Balaguer is considered the most sage Dominican politician of all times. Today, despite being blind, and technically out-of-power, he still has a controlling stake in local politics. As the leader of the minority party, the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), he maintains a strong influence in the outcome of the presidential elections, and could again tip the scales in the favor of the candidate of his choice. In the 1996 elections, Balaguer endorsed President Leonel Fernández of the PLD, and not the party's candidate, Jacinto Peynado. This time around, Peynado has said he would accept to run as vice president, if Balaguer chose to run again.
After being a puppet President during the regime of Dictator Rafael Trujillo, Balaguer was elected in the 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1990 and 1994 (for a shortened two year term) elections. It is estimated that at least 200,000 voters will cast their vote for whomever he chooses. In the DR, recently presidential elections have been won by less than 50,000 votes.

UASD elects its rector today
The second round of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the state-funded university, will take place today. The university elections are highly politicized, with the major political parties supporting the individual candidates, for the most part unknown to the national society prior to their running for rector of the largest Dominican university. The contenders all failed to achieve the sufficient votes to win in the first round of the elections. The contenders for the position of rector are Miguel Rosado (PRD) and Iván Brugal (PLD). A total of 2,835 votes will be cast broken down into 1,853 votes of professors, 926 votes of students, 56 votes of employees. Rosado garnered double the votes obtained by his contender in the first round. The UASD is heavily subsidized by the state. Most students study free. Studies have shown that with the subsidies the government pays the UASD, it could grant scholarships to the students to study at private universities. A large number of students at the UASD are known as professional students, constantly repeating courses. This practice is not allowed in most private universities.

12,000 Haitian sugar cane cutters to be contracted
The State Sugar Council (CEA) urged Dominicans to cut sugar cane, while announcing it is importing 12,000 Haitian cutters. Cutters make about RD$3,000 a month (slightly above minimum wage) for their hard labor, and the money's earned are only attractive to Haitians that have less options in their own country. Increasing the pay is controversial, as it would only increase the number of Haitians entering the DR to cut sugar cane, and then staying on to perform other less demanding jobs, such as construction work. Sugar cane ghettos where the Haitians live are considered the most poor communities in the DR. The CEA is in the process of being privatized.

Computer Age comes to the District Attorney's Office
The District Attorney's office has announced the operation of its Computer Center (Centro de Informática), whereby all judicial cases are being computerized. A report in El Siglo newspaper indicates that every day 1,000 cases are entered into the system and automatically raffled out to the courts and chambers. The report indicates one has only to enter the name of the person involved in a judicial case and the details on the case will appear.

Tax Bureau to audit firms declaring losses
The Dirección General de Impuestos Internos, the national tax office, said that it will step up efforts to detect tax evasion this year. It announced it will investigate 5,500 firms of 20,000 that are registered in the DR. Four thousand of these will be audited for showing no accounting movement in recent years, and another 1,500 companies for declaring losses in 1998. Juan Hernández said that these companies will not have any problems if they can truly demonstrate their losses, but they will have to justify the patrimony of their shareholders. He said there is a large number of companies created in the DR that do not report their operations to the DGII. He said that his department now has more credibility. In 1996, 13,500 companies declared their operations to the tax bureau. In 1998, 16,300 companies did so. Of the 13,500 companies declaring in 1996, 3,400 declared losses. In 1998, only 1,500 declared losses.

Trade and Investment Forum for March
The Dominican Republic's Office for Promotion of Investment and the US Department of Commerce are jointly sponsoring the First US-Caribbean Trade & Investment Forum, scheduled for March 16-18, 1999 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This event will bring together regional and US business and government leaders in two days of conference sessions on telecommunications, electronic commerce, information technologies, transportation and infrastructure and tourism (a joint CLAA-CHA-CTO program).

Atna Resources Ltd. - drilling underway in the Dominican Republic
Atna Resources Ltd. of Vancouver, Canada reports that the company has commenced a 2,000 meter drill program on the San Antonio I Concession, Dominican Republic. The 7-10 hole program will follow-up recent favorable geological, geophysical and geochemical surveys and be centered over a 600 by 6,000 meter gold, copper, lead, silver and barium soil anomaly. Surface sampling of float boulders has returned gold values in the 1-5 grams per ton range with highly anomalous base metal values.
Previous shallow drilling within the anomalous area by Battle Mountain/Canyon Resources in 1990, intersected massive sulfide mineralization. Drill hole SJ-2 returned 15.6 meters of 1.2% copper, 0.5% zinc, 9.0 g/t silver and 0.7 g/t gold (in addition a 0.3 meter hanging wall interval graded 0.9% copper, 15.2% zinc, 29.1 g/t silver and 5.8 g/t gold). Hole SJ-4, located 200 meters to the southeast, intersected 1.4 meters of 0.84% copper, 4.8% zinc, 13.0 g/t silver and 0.4 g/t gold (including 0.3 meters of 2.6% copper, 16.9% zinc, 25.7 g/t silver and 1.1 g/t gold) along the same mineralized contact as intersected by SJ-2.

Time for Carnival!
Brugal rum is sponsoring the following big band orchestras to play at the Avenida del Puerto in the Colonial City, starting at 9 pm:

Monday, 22 February: Sin Fronteras
Tuesday, 23 February: Víctor Roque y la Gran Manzana
Wednesday, 24 February: Manolé y La Banda del Truco
Thursday, 25 February: Banda X
Friday, 26 February: Parada Joven y Juan Manuel
Saturday, 27 February: Grupo Contagio y Diómedes y el Grupo Mío
Sunday, 28 February: K-Libre y La Banda Chula

Presidente beer is also sponsoring big band orchestras at the Avenida del Puerto. Bands to play as of 8 pm. Their schedule is:

Thursday, 25 February: Banda Chula
Friday, 26 February: Rokabanda
Saturday, 27 February: Sin Fronteras
Sunday, 28 February: Coco Band, Toño Rosario, Eddy Herrera.

Other planned carnival activities are:
Gran Gala Carnaval 99 at the Teatro La Fiesta, Hotel Jaragua on Friday, 26 February at 8 pm.
Grand Carnival Parade, Sunday, 28 February starting at 2 pm along the Malecón.
Casa de Teatro at Arz. Meriño Street in the Colonial City is exhibiting of works of art commemorative to Dominican carnival. Exhibiting are many well known Dominican painters, including Cándido Bidó, Jorge Pineda, Antonio Guadalupe, José Morillo, Fermín Ceballo, Paul Leonor, Limbert Vilorio, Polibio Díaz, Pascal Macariello, Daniel de los Santos, Marcos Lora, Marino Hernández, Domingo Batista, José Mercader, Paul Giudicelli, Dionisio Banco, Silvano Lora, Bismarck Victoria and Miguel Ramírez.

For those who are not aware, the best Dominican carnival takes place, not in Santo Domingo, but in the city of La Vega, about an hour's drive from Santo Domingo. EnviTravel Tours, a local travel agency is offering excursions to see the carnival parades of "diablos cojuelos" with tours departing 28 February from Santo Domingo. The excursion price of RD$325 includes round-trip transport, visit to the Santo Cerro Church and the old city of La Vega, open bar, lunch at the La Vega Country Club, tee shirts, and watching of the carnival parade in the afternoon. Departures are at 8:30 am, returning to Santo Domingo at 9:30 pm. Those taking the excursion should preferably wear two pairs slacks or jeans because the "diablos cojuelos" mischievously will thrust their balloons against those watching. For more information, call 565-5558 or email [email protected]
Services Travel's excursion departs from the agency locale at Rómulo Betancourt 1567 on 28 February. Tel. 535-4290
This is a once-and-a-lifetime adventure, highly recommended to tourists and residents in the DR. Fun for the entire family. Just follow the crowds, put your wallet in a safe place, and stay out of the reach of the fearful Diablos Cojuelos.

American Ballet Theater dancers to perform in Santo Domingo
The American Ballet Theater of New York will hold a benefit for the Instituto Oncológico Dr. Heriberto Pieter and the Residencia Geriatrica Dr. Carl Georg of San Pedro de Macoris at the National Theater. The benefit is scheduled for Thursday, 25 February at 8:30 pm. Eight dancers from the American Ballet Theater will be on stage. Coming is Angel Corella, who at 23 years old is compared to Nureyev and Baryshnikov. Others are Yan Chen, Giuseppe Picone, Keith Roberts, Irina Dvorovenko, Carmen Corella, Erica Comejo and Herman Comejo. Corella has starred as Basilio in "Don Quixote", Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet," Albrecht in "Giselle" and Soler in "La Bayadere", among other American Ballet Theater performances.

DR leads Cycling Race
Dominican cyclist José Guzmán won the second stage of the Vuelta Independencia, the most important cycling event held in the DR every year. He completed the 116 kilometers of the route Santo Domingo-Boca Chica-San Pedro de Macoris-La Romana in two hours, 52 minutes and 35 seconds. The DR is in first place of the event, with a total of 19 hours, 13 minutes and 25 seconds. The individual leadership is held by Venezuelan Tommy Alcedo, with six hours, 22 minutes and 51 seconds, followed by Emile Abraham of the USA with six hours, 24 minutes and 24 seconds. Venezuela is second place in the teams ranking.
The third stage of the XX Vuelta Ciclística Independencia Nacional, will depart from La Romana back to Santo Domingo, a 126.3 kilometer stretch. Competitors take off at 9:30 am.

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