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Daily News - 26 April 1999

November Summit to be most important in DR history
The Summit of Heads of State and Government of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) that will take place in the DR in November, will be the most important international event ever held in the history of the DR, Max Puig, the Dominican in charge of the Lome IV program in the DR said. He estimated that 2,500 persons, including 71 chiefs of state and 15 representatives of the European Union will participate in the event, a new challenge to the DR as host country.
The DR won the right to host the event by unanimous vote during the First Ministerial Conference of Negotiations among the ACP Group and the European Union, held in Senegal, 6 February.
The main issue on the agenda is establishing a common ground for the position of the ACP countries in the conclusion of the post-Lome IV negotiations and future relations wit the European Union in view of new rules of trade set by the World Trade Organization. The DR meeting will be held shortly before the World Trade Organization's new round of negotiations, Round of the Millennium, that will take place in Seattle, Washington (USA) in December.
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre said that the Caribbean's position in regards to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas will depend on the post-Lome IV convention.
The Secretary General of the ACP, Ngandu Peter Magandc was in Santo Domingo yesterday for meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Relations and President Leonel Fernández on occasion of the hosting of the important event. He visited with Alfa Niaky Barry, director of Information, Public Relations and Protocol of the Secretary General ACP countries.
The ACP gathers 71 members and one observer, Cuba. Of the members, 20 are from Africa, 50 from the Caribbean and 8 from the Pacific. The Lome Convention was originally signed in 1975 between the former colonies of Europe and members of the European Union. The accord seeks to promote and accelerate economic, cultural and social development in the ACP countries via several methods of collaboration and the elimination of taxes and quantitative limitations for a number of products entering the EU countries. The DR has been a member of Lome since 1989.

Playa Dorada to be site of ACP Summit
Playa Dorada's hotel complex in the northern province of Puerto Plata is the most likely site of the upcoming ACP summit. Santo Domingo, the capital city, does not have the necessary amount of hotel rooms to host the event. The government and the private sector will cooperate on the construction of a convention center on a vacant lot property of the Central Bank in the Playa Dorada area. The center needs to be ready by November. Punta Cana was also considered for the event, but the business community did not show the interest and the event was captured by Playa Dorada.

Cuban defector travels to US
Hoy newspaper said that Captain Lazaro Betancourt, supposedly the number two man of the security of President Fidel Castro, was flown to the US last Thursday. Betancourt deserted on the previous Sunday and requested political asylum at the US Embassy in Santo Domingo. He traveled on a US Air Force airplane, supposedly to Washington DC. Press reports explain he was first questioned at the US Embassy to determine if he was a spy or a defector. Hoy reported this was Betancourt's second visit to the DR. He had come with Castro during the latter's first visit in August 1998. Castro visited last week to attend the II Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Association of Caribbean States. The US government, the Dominican government, and the Cuban government have refused to comment on the case.

Navy cancels squad for complicity with boat trips
Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Victor Francisco García Alecont cancelled two officers, as well as six of the staff at Baoba del Piñal, near Nagua, on the Northeast of the country. They were cancelled for complicity in the illegal boat trips and negligence in the fulfillment of their work. The decision was taken after an investigation into the case of a 120-person boat trip that the Navy men impeded from leaving port allegedly because the boat people did not pay the necessary bribes to the Navy staff. Diómedes Liriano de la Cruz died in the shooting, and two others were injured.

DR representative in Geneva presents credentials
Federico Alberto Cuello Camilo, the new Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations and other international organizations at Geneva, presented his credentials last week to Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Prior to his appointment to Geneva, Cuello Camilo served as a Vice-Minister since 1995. His duties included coordinating trade policy reform, competition policy development and telecommunication policy reform. From 1993 to 1995, he was an economic advisor on trade policy reform and science and technology policy. Concurrently, he served as a consultant, coordinator and researcher for a number of projects funded by the United Nations Development Programme, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the International Telecommunications Union and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Cuello Camilo has represented his country on numerous international missions, including to meetings of the World Trade Organization and UNCTAD. He has also published a number of books and articles.
Mr. Cuello Camilo obtained his Bachelor of Science in economics from the INTEC in 1987. He received his Master of Arts in economic theory and econometrics from the University of Illinois in 1990 and his Ph.D. in development economies and regional science from the same University in 1993. He speaks Spanish, English and French. He is married and has three children.

Herrera vs. Higuero controversy continues
Works continue on the construction of the new Higuero Airport in the northeast of Santo Domingo. The government alleges that Herrera's location in the middle of a commercial, residential and industrial area of the poses threats to the safety of the area. It also mentions that the airport needs to be expanded, and there is no room to do so in Herrera.
The move has lots of opposition. Operators of airlines based there say the government's reasons are absurd, as the location of Herrera is similar to that of Miami International, La Guardia International, Isla Verde in San Juan or La Carlota in Caracas.
Moreso, they mention the virtual zero accident rate of the airport and its flights. Pedro Bonilla, a pilot, in a letter to the Listín Diario points out the many accidents at adjacent Luperón Highway that isn't being closed. Furthermore, he says that the construction of the Higuero Airport will become another Barahona or Arroyo Barril, Dominican white elephant airports where millions have been wasted on airports that are not functional.
Operators of domestic charter and regular scheduled air carriers oppose the move, saying it would be deadly to their businesses. The new airport is located about a 50- drive from the center of Santo Domingo.
The Mayor of Santo Domingo, Johnny Ventura also opposes its construction. He said last week that Higuero's proximity to the Duquesa garbage dump, over which hundreds of birds fly. He said that although the landfills are under control, these still hold dangerous subterranean gases, which make this not a technically advisable site for the domestic airport.
Moreover, the Minister of Tourism Felix Jimenez also opposes Higuero as a site for the airport. Jimenez said that flying into the city over the garbage dump is not the first impression the country wants to give to visiting tourists that would fly in from other destinations.
Aviation businesses operating in Herrera were not consulted. They found out about the move from reports in the newspapers. Why the rush to move the airport? Sectors say behind the government's interest to move the airport now are real estate interests. The dismantling of the airport would permit high rise construction along the Luperon Avenue, in addition to the high value of the Herrera property itself.

Charles Mannat, next US ambassador in DR?
El Siglo newspaper, citing sources of the Washington Post, says that Charles Mannat, an influential Washington DC lawyer, could be the next US ambassador in the Dominican Republic. The newspaper said it is believed his appointment will be passed by the US Congress prior to the recess for the summer vacations. Mannat is described as a former president of the Democratic Party. Reportedly, he was proposed by First Lady Hillary Clinton, who visited the DR last year. He is at the present time being investigated by the FBI. The next step would be to request the no objection of the Dominican government. Given the prestige and the influence of Mannat in the political world, it is taken for granted that the Committee of Foreign Relations of the US Senate, presided by Senator Jesse Helms, will not object to his appointment. The DR has not had a US Embassy since Ambassador Donna Hrinak left for Bolivia in January 1998.

Tourism stats
The DR could have nearly 50,000 hotel rooms operational at the start of the millennium. In 1998, there were 43,000 hotel rooms in the DR. Luis Simó, deputy minister of Tourism predicts the privatization of the airports will attract new investments. He was speaking during the Bolsa Turística de la RD, the large travel exhibition fair held over the weekend in Santo Domingo.
Fair organizer, Luis Felipe Aquino highlighted the sustained growth of tourism over the past 15 years. Aquino cited statistics showing that in 1998, 2,309 million tourists visited, generating US$2,142 million in hard currency and resulting in jobs for 204,010 persons. The US, Germany, England, Canada, Italy and Spain are the principal source markets for DR-bound tourists.

Propane gas shortage affects public transport
Users of propane gas for cooking and transport suffered from a shortage of the fuel last week. The scarcity primarily affected homes and cars that depend on the purchase of gas in up to 30 lbs. tanks. Federico Quezada, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce explained that the shortage was due to the financial inadequacy of Mundo Gas that has a contract for 40% of the market, to import supplies on time. He criticized that Mundo Gas is only adequately serving 26% of the market, and has not fulfilled the government requirement of keeping 15-day stocks of propane gas reserves. Quezada said the problem would be resolved with the arrival of 2.5 million gallons of propane gas this week. 90% of "carros públicos", or multi-fare paying passenger cabs, use propane gas.

Caribbean bird watchers to meet in DR
The Caribbean Society of Ornithology will meet in the DR to hold their 12th Annual Meeting from 30 July to 4 August 1999. The group seeks to promote the conservation of birds and their habitats. The organization gathers bird watchers in 23 Caribbean countries. Local organizers are Simon Guerrero, representative of the CSO in the country; Ramón Ovidio Sánchez, of the Department of Wild Life of the Ministry of Agriculture; Katarzyna Grasela, of the r of Parks; Eduardo Vásquez of the National Zoo; Rafael Lorenzo, Grupo Tinglar, and Kate Wallace of the Birdwatchers Club. For more information, contact Simon Guerrero 562-3149 and Kate Wallace 238-5345.

Light Tackle tournament set for Punta Cana waters
The Santo Domingo Yacht Club announced the celebration of the 59th World Fishing Tournament of the International Light Tackle Tournament Association (ILTTA) to be held 31 May to 5 June in La Altagracia province. 120 fishermen will participate on board 40 yachts.
Evelio Medero, spokesman for the organizing committee, said already anglers from US, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, South Africa, Curacao and the DR have confirmed their participation. The US will be represented by five teams coming from Texas. 16 teams have registered for the DR, including three from the Santo Domingo Yacht Club.
The national record is 139 lbs. for men, and 130 lbs. for women.
The Cabeza de Toro Yacht Club will be the center of the tournament action. Participants will stay at Punta Cana and Bavaro area hotels. The area is primarily known for its white and blue marlins.

Guerra, Quezada, Camilo and Molina recognized abroad
The Listín Diario highlighted over the weekend in separate articles the successes of Dominican show business stars, Juan Luis Guerra, Milly Quezada, Michael Camilo and José Antonio Molina.
Dominicans Juan Luis Guerra and Milly Quezada won the Billboard magazine Latin Music Awards. The event was held last week in Miami at the Hotel Fontainbleau of Miami. Juan Luis Guerra won the prestigious CD of the year in the Tropical Music Group for his "Ni es lo mismo ni es igual". Milly Quezada's latest CD, "Vive," won in the Tropical Music Group female singer category.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Michael Camilo was honored by the Spanish artistic community as best arranger 1998 in the III Awards Music Awards of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE). The Listín Diario said the honor came for his work arranging the music for the "Lorquiana" CD sung by Ana Belén. He composed the music for the poems by Federico García Lorca. For more information on that award, see www.premiosdelamusica.com
José Antonio Molina is in his second year of working with Luciano Pavarotti on the preparation of the "Pavarotti and Friends" gala in Modena, Italy. The event will take place 1 June on the grounds of Novis Art. In an interview in the Listín Diario newspaper, he said that it is possible that Pavarotti some day may vocalize a merengue or a bachata. He said Pavarotti shares his criteria that there is no difference between popular and classic music. "There is only good and bad art," he said. Molina has produced "Yaya Overture," (interpreted by the Washington DC Symphony in Kennedy Center) and the Fantasia Merengue" giving a classic touch to the best of Caribbean music. He is working on continuing to take Dominican music to universal levels. "My best weapons are merengue, bolero, rumba and son cubano, it is what we Caribbeans know better than anyone else."

Book Fair continues
The International Book Fair continues in Santo Domingo through 2 May. The event, described as the most important cultural event of the year, is held on the grounds of the Santo Domingo Music Conservatory, at Alma Mater and Cesar Nicolas Penson streets. The fair is dedicated to Dominican national poet, Pedro Mir and to Mexico. This year 466 exhibitors, including 203 foreign publishing houses from 26 countries, are participating. Some 93 bookstores, 38 individual authors, 28 governmental organizations, 15 cultural foundations, 12 universities, local publishing houses, professional associations, newspapers, magazines, painters, educational videos, computer and religious groups have booths. Those attending agree that the fair is better organized this year.

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