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Daily News - 12 April 1999

DR improves its Standard & Poor's credit rating
Standard & Poor's on 9 April affirmed the Dominican Republic's long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating of single-'B'-plus and removed the rating from CreditWatch, where it was placed on Oct. 1, 1998, following damages caused by Hurricane Georges and the country's subsequent rescheduling of external debt with Paris Club creditors. The outlook on the foreign currency rating is now stable.
At the same time, Standard & Poor's lowered the Dominican Republic's short-term foreign currency rating to single-'C' from single-'B'. Standard & Poor's downgraded the Dominican Republic's short-term foreign currency rating largely because of the country's vulnerability to external shocks due to its weak liquidity position. In addition, Standard & Poor's removed the Dominican Republic's long- and short-term local currency issuer credit ratings from CreditWatch and changed the ratings to Selective Default (SD). Standard & Poor's believes that the DR will continue to make
Although small in amount (face value equal to 0.012% of 1998 GDP), the government is currently in default on six local currency bonds, including the electricity company capitalization bond of 2000 and the agrarian bonds of 1987 and 1992. However, the central bank is continuing to service its local currency counterpart obligations on a timely basis.

Government very vulnerable to fuel price increase
A single dollar increase in the price of petroleum can mean millions of pesos in lost revenues for the Dominican government. The local press, on occasion of the upward trend of the prices of petroleum on world markets, gave the totals on the differential the price of petroleum and the sales price generates for the Dominican government.
Year Petroleum sales tax
1996 RD$3,372 million
1997 RD$5,229 million
1998 RD$6,215 million.

Final preparations for Presidents' Summit
The Dominican Government is in its final week of preparations for the opening at the National Theater on Friday, 16 April at 7 pm of the II Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Association of Caribbean States. The closing of the regional event will take place at the auditorium of the new Diplomacy School built on the refurbished headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Relations on the Malecón. President Leonel Fernández himself inspected the new areas on Saturday.
Confirmed for the event are: Ernesto Zedillo, Mexico who will come earlier, on 14 April for an official visit; Andrés Pastrana, Colombia; Hugo Chavez, Venezuela; Fidel Castro, Cuba; Rene Preval, Haiti; Arnoldo Alemán, Nicaragua; Alvaro Arzú, Guatemala; Ernesto Pérez Balladares, Panamá; Carlos Flores, Honduras. Miguel A. Rodríguez, Costa Rica; Armando Calderón Sol, El Salvador; Jules Wijdenbosch, Surinam; Basdeo Panday, Trinidad & Tobago; Percival Patterson, Jamaica; Manuel Esquivel; Belize; Lester B. Bird, Antigua; Janet Jagan, Guyana; Denzil Douglas, St. Kitts and Nevis and Edison C. James, Dominica. Some 6,000 persons will participate in the event, including hotel employees special security, military personnel and logistics and international and national press. During the two-day event, the statesmen will review important happenings in the region from when a first meeting was held in Port of Spain in 1995 and the positioning of the region for the new millennium.

President Zedillo to make first visit to DR
The Ambassador of Mexico in the DR, José Ignacio Gutiérrez Pita said that the President of Mexico, Dr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León is coming to reaffirm his personal appreciation and most extensive political support for the international leadership role undertaken by Dominican President Leonel Fernández. He said President Zedillo will also take the opportunity of his four day stay to reinforce Mexican cooperation with the DR. The Mexican government of Mexico is collaborating with the Dominican government in at least 100 projects.

Modern propane gas port facility to be built
The government authorized the construction of a modern port and storage complex in southeastern San Pedro de Macorís. The facility will be built by Import Gas Internacional, S.A., that is associated to the Coastal Corporation, described as the largest seller of propane gas in the US. Import Gas Internacional is a consortium that gathers propane gas distributors that have 40% market share in the DR — Propagas, Esso Gas, Tropigas, Shell Gas and Metro Gas.

Puerto Ricans and Brazilians to replace English tourists
The general manager of Jack Tar Village Rafael Fonseca said that Puerto Plata is expecting a significant reduction in the number of English and German tourists coming for the summer. He attributed the decline to the very attractive prices now offered to British and German travelers in Asia. He said they expect to fill their rooms with tourists from Puerto Rico and Brazil. Thomson Vacations announced it will reduce by half its charter flights to the DR this summer. In the same article in the Listín Diario, Cecilio Mercedes, of the Association of Hotels of Sosua and Cabarete, said that the area should seek markets that can pay better rates.

DA requests presence of plastic surgeon
The husband of Dhelmalyz Rios, the 26-year old Puerto Rican woman who died of complications resulting from a fat implant in her legs, says he doesn't care if plastic surgeon Dr. Edgar Contreras goes to jail or not. "My goal is that nobody ever be operated by his hands, nor anyone run the risk again."
The husband, Joselí Colón's crusade brought about a recent indictment by the Puerto Rican justice for the physician to stand trial in Puerto Rico. If guilty, he faces a sentence of 1-3 years in jail. While he cannot be extradited for malpractice to Puerto Rico, he can if he travels to US territory or to a third country that has an extradition treaty with Puerto Rico.
Dr. Contreras has maintained his innocence and the quality of his services, but his credibility as a physician, is now being questioned by the Dominican judiciary. He was not accepted as a member of the Dominican Society of Plastic Surgeons because he did not fill that organization's minimum requirements. He specialized in plastic surgery at the Los Lagos center in Río de Janeiro, Brazil.
Today, the District Attorney's office is expected to accuse Dr. Contreras of the death of the Puerto Rican. He already ordered the temporary closing of the Centro Médico Bellas Artes where Dr. Edgar Contreras operated on his patients. The District Attorney office's interest has accelerated after Dr. Contreras was found to be implicated in the death of a renown Dominican journalist.
With the worst of timing for Dr. Contreras, Dominican press correspondent in Puerto Rico, 48-year old Isabel Vargas died this month, three days after undergoing at his clinic surgery to remove fat from her abdomen, back, thighs and breasts. The family of Vargas initially hid the motive of her death, following the late journalist's own wishes, but a press probe brought the truth forward. Press stories also carried notes on several irregularities, such as that Vargas' corpse was lowered from the sixth floor to the first floor to be taken to the funeral home in a wheel chair so that patients at the clinic would not know she had died at the center. Likewise, while the physician's brother Dr. Frank Contreras denied knowing Mrs. Vargas, press probes showed he signed her death certificate.
The death of the well known and well-loved journalist brings the unorthodox operating procedures of Dr. Edgar Contreras home. This case could set a precedent in Dominican judiciary. Dominican law is obsolete in regards to medical malpractice. Journalist Pedro Angel Martínez in Ultima Hora reported that penalty of RD$10-RD$100 pesos and jail of six days to three years is contemplated by Dominican Penal code.

Felucho, Danilo Medina and Vice President are PLD pre-candidates
The ruling political party, the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) chose its pre-candidates for the year 2000 presidential elections. The party's Central Committee cast 142 votes for Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina, 122 for Vice President Jaime David Fernández, and 101 for Minister of Tourism Felucho Jiménez. President Leonel Fernández abstained from voting. Of a total of 152 possible voters, 143 attended the electoral event. Among the other aspirants, Julián Serulle obtained 89 votes, Eduardo Selman, director of Corde, 64; Gladys Gutiérrez, director of the Women's Promotion Department, 64. Norge Botello and Franklyn Almeyda retired their candidacy at last minute. The PLD will choose its presidential candidate on 27 June.

PRD still confronts problems in electing its pre-candidates
The Listín Diario reported that it is very likely that the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano will again postpone the election of the party's presidential candidate in the year 2000 presidential elections. The event had been set for 26 February, was postponed for 16 May, and is now expected to be carried out no earlier than 30 June. Presidential candidacy hopefuls say irregularities affect 40% of the list of persons authorized by the PRD to vote to elect the candidate. There are also problems with the make up of the electoral bodies of the political party.

Sammy Sosa hits his first home run
Sammy Sosa hit his first home run in the season, after a bad start of 20-1. He hit his first homer against Mike Williams in the Chicago Cubs game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates won 9-6. Sosa's batting average so far is .095 (21-2). Sosa is known as a slow starter.

Hipólito Mejía is by far preferred PRD candidate
Hamilton & Staff-Hoy newspaper survey shows that 52% of those interviewed favor Hipólito Mejía to be the presidential candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano. Milagros Ortíz Bosch rated 22%, Rafael Suberví Bonilla 9%, Hatuey Decamps 5%, and José Rafael Abinader 2%. Among those who identified themselves as PRD voters, Mejía received 71%, Ortiz Bosch 17%, Suberví Bonilla 8%, Decamps 2% and Abinader 1%. The survey was carried out 13-19 March when 1,800 persons of voting age were polled throughout the national territory.

Most popular Dominicans
The same Hamilton & Staff-Hoy newspaper survey also showed that the most admired Dominicans are: baseball player Sammy Sosa, merengue singer Fernando Villalona, President Leonel Fernández and presidential pre-candidate Hipólito Mejía. Other very popular Dominicans are TV producer Freddy Beras Goico, former President Joaquín Balaguer, Minister of Sports Juan Marichal and Mayor of Santo Domingo Johnny Ventura.

Protecting the whales and the dolphins
The Executive Branch established by Decree 136-99 the limits of the Santuary of Marine Mammals and created the National Commission for the Protecction of Whales, Dolphins, Manatees, Seals and Other Marine Species that live in Dominican territorial waters and are threatened with extinction. The area of the Santuary of Marine Mammals covers the Bay of Samana and the Silver Banks, or 23,445.35 square meters. Director of Parks, Omar Ramírez says that from January to April of this year, some 30,000 tourists visited the Santuary. The new committee in charge of the well being of the marine mammals is made up by the Department of Parks, the Ministry of Agriculture, Navy, Museum of Natural History, National Acuarium, Center for Investigation of Marine Biology (Cibima) of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, the Foundation for the Conservation of Marine Resources (Mamma), the Center for the Conservation and Ecodevelopment of the Bay of Samana and its Environment (Cebse) and the Dominican Foundation of Marine Studies (Fundemar).

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