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Daily News - 15 April 1999

Mexican President arrives for official visit
President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico arrived at 8 pm last night for a five-day visit. He was received by Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre. He is accompanied by his wife, Nilda Patricia Velasco de Zedillo. He is scheduled to sign trade agreements for more than US$100 million with his Dominican host, President Leonel Fernández during his visit.
The trade balance of the DR with Mexico is highly tipped in favor of Mexico. Dominican exports to Mexico were US$13,000 in 1998, while imports were US$283 million. The DR purchases 30% of its total petroleum imports from Mexico. Two Mexican companies have made major investments here in recent years, somewhat offsetting the trade deficit. They are Cementos Nacionales, owned by CEMEX, and Elektra, a large appliance store.

Less cigars exported in 1998
Cigar exports dropped 13% in 1998 compared to 1997, El Caribe newspaper reports on a recent workshop on quality control (ISO 9000), the European market and zoning of tobacco production in the DR. While some 287 million units were exported in 1997, only 250 million units were shipped in 1998. The cigar industry is estimated to gross RD$2,356,900,000, a year when distribution, export and sales to the local market are taken into account. The industry employs about 55,000 persons, primarily in farming, manufacturing, transport, distribution and export areas. Dominican cigars are primarily sold in the US, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, England, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland. The workshop was held in Santiago, and was organized by the Center for Development and Investments of the European Union and the Dominican Agribusiness Council (JAD) at the Superior Institute of Agriculture (ISA).

Association of Caribbean States meeting opens in Santo Domingo
The II Summit of Heads of Government and State of the Association of Caribbean States opens tomorrow in Santo Domingo. Some 25 statesmen from the Caribbean Basin will examine where the region stands at the advent of the new millennium. With the exception of President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, who flew in last night for a prior state visit, the statesmen will land on Friday, 16 April as of 2 pm at the Las Americas Airport. The event will be formally inaugurated at the National Theater at 7:30 pm that evening, after which a reception in the gardens of the National Theater for attending missions and a concurrent private dinner for the Presidents and their wives at 7:30 pm in the Salon Verde of the National Palace.
The statesmen will attend a first work session at Hotel Jaragua's Salon Anacaona from 9 to 11 am of Saturday, 17 April. "From Port of Spain 1995 to Santo Domingo 1999" and "The Caribbean in the 21st Century" will be topics of the discussions.
From 1 pm to 3 pm the statesmen will participate in a private luncheon at the executive dining room of the Central Bank and from 3 to 5 pm in a private meeting at the auditorium of the Central Bank.
At 6:30 pm, the statesmen will sign the Declaration of Santo Domingo and participate in the closing of the event at the new School of Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The new facility, together with remodeling of the Ministry's headquarters, has only recently been completed, calling for a RD$93 million investment. Some 300 persons can be seated in the new auditorium of the School of Diplomacy.
That same evening, President Fernández will host a Dominican Night at the Fortaleza Ozama of the Colonial City at 8:30 pm. The governors are slated to return to their respective countries on Sunday.
Since day one of his presidency, President Leonel Fernández proposed to put the diplomatic isolation of the DR in the past and turn the nation into a key player in promoting regional integration and trade as an instrument for economic development. His first successes were the signing of a free trade agreement with Central America in April 1998, and the subsequent signing of a similar agreement with the English-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) nations in August of last year.
The meeting in Santo Domingo of the later two trade groups, with the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, and the larger Caribbean Basin countries of Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia is seen as a major political and regional accomplishment for Dominican diplomacy. All together, the region has a US$474,000 Gross Product, trade of US$140,000 million and is a consumer market of 200 million people.

Autopsy of journalist carried out at cemetery
Dr. Sergio Sarita Valdez, the nation's chief forensic pathologist, head a team of physicians that carried out an autopsy to the body of journalist Isabel Vargas. Samples were taken from the body at the Cristo Redentor Cemetery for analysis at the Forensic Institute laboratory. The autopsy had been requested by the District Attorney's office to determine the true causes of the journalist's death and if there had been medical negligence. Originally, the husband of the deceased had said she died of a heart attack at the hotel where she was staying. Later it was established she had died at the Centro Médico Bellas Artes, three days after undergoing plastic surgery.
The physician performing the "lipoescultura" procedure, Dr. Edgar Contreras was under press scrutiny after the Puerto Rican judiciary requested him to stand trial in Puerto Rico for the death of Puerto Rican Dhelmalyz Ríos.
In the case of the Dominican journalist, who resided in Puerto Rico at the time of her death, Dr. Contreras extracted about a liter of fat from her stomach, legs, back and breast. Dr. Contreras was invited to be present at the autopsy of the Dominican journalist.
Dr. Sarita said the results of the autopsy would be released to the District Attorney who could then report findings to the press.
Dr. Contreras practice is one of the most active in the Dominican Republic. He was known to "sculpture" women, removing fat from certain areas to be placed in others. He was also very much in demand for his very competitive rates.

Puerto Plata port to be dredged
Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña announced the dredging of the Port of Puerto Plata, along the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. He said that the port would be rehabilitated so that large cruise ships can dock there. An investment of RD$116 million will be made. The port has not been dredged for the past 20 years. The Minister also announced that work will also resume on the construction of the Gran Parada-Cupey-San Marcos highway. The Minister said that the San Felipe Cathedral of Puerto Plata would be spruced up.

Unisys could take over voting card issuance
The president of the Junta Central Electoral, Dr. Manuel Morel Cerda said they are considering contracting the services of Unisys International, an affiliate of Datocentro, the Dominican informatics company that has the contract to establish the database and issue the new voting and identification cards. The process has experimented technical difficulties, and Dr. Morel says Unisys has proposed solutions. These will entail additional disbursements by the government, but Dr. Morel has explained that it would be more expensive to abort the project with Datocentro as the government has already advanced millions. According to a report in Hoy, Unisys International would take over the issuing of the voting and identification cards. Technical difficulties have resulted in the project being far behind schedule. Only 1,200,000 of 4,500,000 voting cards have been issued. The voting card is needed for the presidential elections that will be held 16 May 2000.

Aristy Castro's resignation is accepted
The Senate approved the resignation of Senator Amable Aristy Castro (PRSC-La Altagracia). Aristy Castro had submitted his resignation 26 February of this year. Aristy resigned after he was elected secretary general of the Dominican Municipal League in elections held in San Pedro de Macoris in January. Now, the PRSC must choose his successor.

Bill establishes fines for littering
The Chamber of Deputies passed a bill that would fine those caught throwing garbage in public areas or littering cities with 2-10 days in jail and fines of RD$500 to RD$1,000. The bill bans the throwing of garbage in streets, sidewalks, gutters, parks, highways, beaches, plazas, gullies, sea, and other public areas. Second time around, the fines will be doubled and the maximum jail term applied.

More than US$1 million found in pick up truck
The Customs Department found an estimated US$1 million dollars hidden in a 1999 Toyota pick up truck shipped to the West Haina Port. The authorities have yet to determine if the money is false. The authorities made the discovery after being tipped off. A police check of the addressee of the vehicle showed false names and addresses.

Virginity more important for Dominican women, than for men
The IV Hamilton & Staff-Hoy newspaper survey revealed that 68% of Dominicans believe a woman should be a virgin when marrying. Broken down by sex, 71% of every 100 women believe in virginity. The men are less conservative, with only 64% favoring virginity. They were responding to the question "the fact that a woman be virgin or not, is it a very important matter, somewhat important or not important." 44% responded that it was very important, 24% somewhat important and 32% not important. The percentages vary in the cities, with 65% favoring virginity, versus 74% in rural areas. 49% of citizens of upper income bracket favor virginity, and 43% say it is not important. Middle class voted 66% for virginity, and lower income classes voted 73% in favor of virginity.

Corporán wants out of politics
Former city mayor Rafael Corporán de los Santos resigned from his membership in the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano and all political activity. In a letter to Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, the party's leader, he explained that he wants to work full time in his TV production company. He is a very successful TV program producer. He said he is not resigning his friendship with the former statesman for whom he has great admiration.

Smuggling cocaine, may cost woman her life
Juana Encarnación, a 30 year old woman who tried to introduce 100 bags of cocaine in her stomach, continues in coma at the gastroenterology unit of the Plaza de la Salud. She was arrested when she arrived to the Las Americas International Airport unconscious and with irregular blood pressure. As of last night she had only expelled 42 bags of cocaine, weighing 476.5 grams. She arrived on a Copa flight from Panama. She is in critical condition.

Police chief gives ultimatum for driving without a license
More than 70% of the persons detained in recent hours do not have drivers license or insurance, or their documents are expired. The new chief of the Police, General Pedro Candelier said he is giving Dominicans 15 days to get their papers in order. Of 24 detained arrested yesterday, 17 did not have adequate papers for themselves or their vehicles. The General is also giving motorcycle drivers until the end of the month to use their helmets.

Tourism & Investment Conference
The III Caribbean Tourism & Investment Conference opens in Santo Domingo at the Hotel Jaragua Renaissance 18 April. The three-day event is organized by the Caribbean Hotel Association and the Caribbean Tourism Organization and coordinated by C/LAA. President Leonel Fernández will preside over the opening session. Some 400 delegates from the Caribbean will be attending.

Marcel Marceau in Santo Domingo
Marcel Marceau, the renown French mime and his show will be presenting "Le Chapeau Melon", or the extraordinary odyssey of Jonathan Bowler. Marceau will be performing along with top mimes of his school, La Nouvelle Compagnie de Mimodrame. The presentation is set for Saturday, 17 April at the main hall of the National Theater. The National Theater announced today that while tickets are still for sale at the theater today, Thursday, 15 April, sales will be suspended on 16 April on occasion of the Theater hosting the opening ceremony of the II Heads of Government and State of the Association of Caribbean States, with the attendance of some 25 chiefs of government from the Caribbean Basin. Ticket sales will be resumed on Saturday morning for the event and other national theater events. Tickets are RD$500 and RD$400.

Chichí Peralta at the Agua y Luz
Also not to be missed this weekend is the Saturday presentation of "Pa Otro Lao" from 8 pm at the Agua y Luz Theater of the Centro de los Heroes in Santo Domingo. One of the best merengue and contemporary Latin musicians, Chichí Peralta's show is a must see. Tickets are RD$150.

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